US para rider Mary Jordan, pictured on Sebastian. © Lindsay Y McCall / United States Para-Equestrian Association
The international competition is being held in conjunction with the Saddle World Dressage Festival.
A CPEDI3* competition is the most demanding level of FEI para-equestrian dressage. Three challenging tests compose a competition that spans several days, with riders completing an individual test, a team test, and a freestyle during the event.
The US Para-Equestrian Team, which won Team Gold at the 2011 CPEDI3* in Mexico City, consists of Donna Ponessa (Grade Ia) from New Windsor, New York, Rebecca Hart (Grade II) of Unionville, Pennsylvania, Erin Alberda (Grade III) of Woodinville, Washington, and Mary Jordan (Grade IV) from Wells, Maine.
The US riders have been given horses to use during the CPEDI3*. "The Australian horse owners have been truly kind and generous in this process of allowing us to use their very talented horses," said team member Mary Jordan. "Our team looks forward to competing in Australia."
A Kiwi team will also compete against teams from Australia and Japan in a bid to qualify a team position for the Paralympics. Riding for New Zealand is Ilona Lawrence (Blenheim) on Taihoa Kingsmoor, Frances Dick (Nelson) on Habafield Jett, Rachel Stock (Auckland) on Rimini Park Emmerich and Jenny Affleck (Otago) on Boss II. Competing as individuals at the event will be Jo Jackson (Rotorua) on Nonchalant, Anthea Gunner (Christchurch) on Huntingdale Incognito and Anne Watts (Auckland) on BJK Cashmir.
New Zealand has four riders aiming to achieve their FEI Certificate of Capability for London which allows them to then be considered for selection for next year's Paralympics. So far Jackson, Stock and Dick have the certificate in hand having successfully met the Equestrian Sports New Zealand and Paralympics New Zealand selection criteria.
The team of international judges officiating consists of Kjell Myhre (NOR), Dr Ulf Wilken (SWE), Jan Geary (AUS), Sue Cunningham (AUS), and Wendy Barker (AUS).
At this stage there are no riders on New Zealand's Para-Dressage High Performance Squad, but the selectors will be watching carefully at Werribee with a potential squad looking to be named after the event.
Five of the riders have taken their own horses to Werribee. Rachel Stock will be teaming up with her new Australian owned and based horse while Frances Dick will be competing on a borrowed horse.
The Saddleworld Dressage Festival gets under way on Thursday, December 8 and runs through to December 11. The festival also features the FEI Dressage Pacific League Dressage Final.