Phoenix Rising: Youngest U.S. Para-Equestrian Set to Become Youngest Globally on Late Para Dressage Rider’s Horse

Edited Press Release

New York, NY. (March 1, 2022) –Genevieve Rohner recently became age-eligible to compete internationally, though she has been riding 10 years. Supported by the Metropolitan Equestrian Team’s (MET) Equine Opportunity Program (EOP), Rohner will become the youngest classified para dressage equestrian globally on March 11, 2022, when she rides down centerline in her first international event at the Adequan® Global dressage Festival in Wellington, FL. 

Rohner, 14, a Grade IV competitor, (on a scale of I-V), was born a 28-week premature triplet and diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, Sensory Integration Disorder (Autism Spectrum), Amblyopia and misaligned right leg bones. She began riding for therapy at age four with one of her brothers who had a stroke at birth and was also diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and Autism.

When recent circumstances prevented Rohner from riding her own mount, MET, an affiliate of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), along with CJ Law (Mt. Holyoke College Equestrian Team Head Coach) stepped in. They connected Rohner with Barton Patrick, former trainer of Mika McKinney, and her then mount, Phoenix.  McKinney, a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and member of their equestrian team, was a Grade V para equestrian from Maine.  McKinney died in 2019 from Osteosarcoma. Her dream had been to compete at the highest level in para dressage.  Collectively, they arranged for Rohner to ride Phoenix this winter in Wellington, Florida.  On Phoenix, Rohner will fulfill the first step in her dream to compete for Team USA at the 2024 Paralympics in Paris, France, while bringing Phoenix full circle by completing with the mare what McKinney was unable to finish. 

In 2021, Rohner received a full day clinic with Olympic silver medalist Adrienne Lyle, the grand prize in a Dressage Today contest of over 850 entrants: 

In 2020, Rohner rode to first place in both of her Emerging Athlete events at the U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) hosted Adequan® 2020 Para Dressage Championships in Mill Spring, North Carolina, led by Chef d’équipe, Michel Assouline. 

Currently training with 2020 Paralympic Bronze medalist Kate Shoemaker in Florida, with whom Rohner will also compete in March, and Annie Sweet in Utah. 

Genevieve Rohner is sponsored and supported by:

Metropolitan Equestrian Team

A recognized USEF Community Outreach Organization, MET believes all young riders should have access to the life lessons that come with being part of a equestrian community. The Equine Opportunity Program (EOP) allows riders nationwide to be as creative as they desire through our educational and equestrian programs. Students ride in any discipline while working towards their goal no matter their riding level or location in the country. EOP riders have the drive and ambition to make their dreams a reality.

U.S. Equestrian Federation

The primary focus of para-equestrian sport is to provide educational and competitive opportunities for athletes with physical disabilities. Many disabled athletes compete, and even excel, in sports designed for the able-bodied, but para-equestrian in particular opens a world of competition to riders with even severe disabilities that might preclude them from other forms of sport, and does so while providing a structured, focused, and highly competitive environment.

In para-equestrian competition, each rider is classified according to his or her functional ability and competitors are grouped accordingly to ensure a level playing field. While it offers competitive opportunities for athletes of every level and aspiration, para-equestrian sport has evolved into an internationally-recognized event and para-dressage is held as part of the World Equestrian Games and at the Paralympics which take place every four years immediately following the Olympic Games and at the same venue. Outlets