Source: Equestrian Canada

Canada’s Lauren Barwick closed out the Para-dressage competition with a sixth place finish in the Grade II Freestyle on September 16 at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, BRA. 

Barwick’s Freestyle performance proved her experience, strength, and determination. Upon entering the stadium, her partner Onyx, a 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding sired by Wolkentanz and owned by Equestrian Canada, found the atmosphere of the busy stadium and the cooler, windy weather a bit overwhelming. However, Barwick calmly carried on and opted to move forward into competition.

“It wasn’t a tough decision to keep going, that’s why I’m a rider,” explained Barwick, a four-time Paralympian with gold and bronze medals from Beijing 2008. “Rio has been a big change for Onyx. He’s never experienced anything like this (atmosphere). So considering, I think he’s been trying really hard.” 

lauren barwick, para-dressage freestyle rio 2016

Canada’s Lauren Barwick closed out her fourth Paralympic Games with a sixth place finish in the Grade II Freestyle aboard Onyx. Photo: © EC/Jessie Christie

After stepping into the ring, Barwick and Onyx settled into their custom Freestyle pattern, choreographed to music that included instrumental samples from the Gladiator soundtrack, to earn a score of 70.450% from the judges. 

“I had to play it really conservative,” said Barwick, 39, who is originally from Langley, BC but currently lives and trains in Reddick, FL. “I knew if I’d asked him to be exuberant and expressive, the kind of expression that I didn’t want might come out. I had to play it super safe so I could get in there and get the test done. Onyx is smart, but he’s had to learn something brand new. Finding the magic equation has been the big thing, and we’re still sorting that out. But he’s tried very hard.”  

lauren barwick, para-dressage freestyle rio 2016

Photo courtesy of Equestrian Canada.

The gold medal in the Grade II Freestyle Test was awarded to Natasha Baker of Great Britain, who scored 77.850% with Cabral. Rixt van der Horst of The Netherlands took silver with 76.250% on Caraat, and bronze went to Steffen Zeibig of Germany and Feel Good 4 with 74.350%. 

The Canadian Para-Dressage Team, comprised of Barwick, along with teammates Robyn Andrews of St. John’s, NL; Ashley Gowanlock of Surrey, BC; and Roberta Sheffield from Lincolnshire, GBR, finished 13th overall in Rio. 

For more information on para-dressage at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, including full results, please visit www.rio2016.com/en/paralympics/equestrian.

Further information on the Canadian Equestrian Team can be found at www.equestrian.ca.

Main Photo: Canada’s Lauren Barwick closed out her fourth Paralympic Games with a sixth place finish in the Grade II Freestyle aboard Onyx. © EC/Jessie Christie

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