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Genevieve Rohner USA para-dressage rider
USA Grade IV Para Dressage rider, Genevieve Rohner, discovered her love for horses at the age of four and was classified as a Para Dressage Equestrian at age nine. She became the youngest in the United States and still is. Genevieve began competing in recognised shows at the age of ten and has gone on to represent her country and ride internationally. She was allowed to compete FEI international shows at fourteen years of age and was the youngest rider in the world to obtain an international Para classification. Genevieve hopes to represent her country at the Paralympics one day. Read on to learn more about the remarkable and hugely talented Genevieve, her ambitions and top tips for success

Tell us about you and your horses

Geneveive Rohner para dressage rider
Genevieve and Kaspar (image courtesy of Deborah Hickey)
I have been very lucky to ride Paralympic and Grand Prix horses in my first three international shows. My mom and I met Paralympian Kate Shoemaker when I was twelve, and she has helped us find horses, coached me, and offered me her Paralympic and World Championships horse to ride, Solitaer 40. She has been a huge help to my mom also. What’s special about this even more, is that Kate is my main U.S. competitor.   Patty Mayer also coached me and allowed me to rider her Grand Prix horse, Cato, and I was able to score in the 70s on him at my second international and was named to the USEF Developing Para Athletes list. It was very special to ride him and work with Patty, who has also helped us so much. My mom and I are very grateful to have all of these ladies believe in me and be there with us and for us.

In 2018, I competed in my first recognized shows when I was ten. I qualified for the CA Junior Championships, California Dressage Society Regional Championships and the U.S. Dressage Federation Region 7 Championships. I finished 5th and 6th overall, in fields of 14 riders. In all these Championships, my competitors were older than me by 3-5 years. I was the youngest competitor of every competition, the only Para Equestrian, and the only competitor without my own horse. I had trained on one horse in Utah and competed on a different horse in California.   When I was twelve, I earned two spots on the USEF Emerging Para Athletes list with two horses, won the first open national championships I was able to enter and was reserve overall for the five emerging athletes competing at the 2020 Para Dressage Championships. It was my first national show experience.
Genevieve with Kate Shoemaker and Michel Assouline (US Para Dressage Team Head Coach) after winning at Tryon CPEDI3
Genevieve with Kate Shoemaker and Michel Assouline (US Para Dressage Team Head Coach) after winning at Tryon CPEDI3
At fourteen, Solitaer 40 and I were named to the Team USA show team in 2022, and I was the youngest Team USA show team member. I am now a USEF 10-year athlete. I have competed at a few CPEDI3* shows and earned my place in the ranks of U.S. para dressage riders. I’m 16 now and can’t wait for the future!


I have a chestnut Oldenburg named Kaspar, which means ‘treasure’ in German. He is a sweet 13-year-old who loves to lick my hands. I am learning how to train him and will compete on him and am also looking forward to finding a higher-level competitive horse soon.  


How did horses come into your life?

My mom had me join my brother doing Hippotherapy when I was four. We both have cerebral Palsy and Autism, but his are very different from mine. I have Sensory Processing Disorder, and it’s less of a problem for me now than it was when I was little. We are triplets and we were born extremely premature at 28 weeks which caused our diagnoses. My brother Cole had a stroke. We were riding at Ride-On Therapeutic Horsemanship (an International Para-equestrian Centre of Excellence in Southern California). He didn’t love riding, but it helped him walk and helped his vision. I watched him ride but when I started riding myself, I fell in love with it and never wanted to stop.  


When and where do you ride?

Genevieve Rohner and her horse Solitaer 40
Genevieve and Solitaer 40 at Tryon CPEDI3 where they finished first – image courtesy of Sharon Packer
I ride in Utah and Florida.

What are you and your horses currently working on?

We are working on solidifying basics and improving overall ability. I love the training process.   In 2023, I got to train in California for a few months, and got to help exercise many horses at Ride On. It was a great experience, especially living away from home for a short time with my aunt and uncle. Now, I am learning as much as I can everywhere I can so I can be the best rider I can be. One of the things I have done in the past couple of years is U.S. Pony Club. I have a C1 rating, and I highly recommend Pony Club to everyone. You will learn so much and get really good at lots of little barn things that make a difference. I also have six years of USEF athletic lettering, which anyone can do. Most schools don’t have horse programs, but you can earn your letters through USEF, just by doing your daily riding, shows and barn work!

Para means ‘parallel’, so what we do is the same or similar to able-bodied riding. But we have aids we can use depending on our physical challenges. We are classified in 5 different levels, and 5 is the most able-bodied. I am a grade IV. This means more of my body is affected than just one portion, like an arm or a leg only.  

How did you start riding?

Genevieve and her very sweet chestnut Oldenburg, Kaspar. (image courtesy of Deborah Hickey)
Riding was super helpful for me and made me feel calm. I also have misaligned right leg bones, and riding has helped with the muscles in my legs and overall weakness. After I had been riding a few months, my coach asked if I wanted to compete in some events at their annual disability show. I did seven events and had the best time. I was very motivated after that and progressed quickly from Hippotherapy to Therapeutic riding and eventually to Para Dressage. My coach, Megan McQueeney, wanted me to compete able-bodied shows too, and had me ride as many horses as possible. This was so helpful for my physical challenges and of course, riding skills.  

What do you love about riding?

 I love everything! When you train a movement and get it right, it feels great. I love being around horses, and I’m not sure I can describe it in words. It’s just something I feel that began the day I sat on a horse. When I started competing, I fell in love with that and told my parents I wanted to go to the Olympics on a horse. My mom says she almost laughed because she couldn’t figure out how I knew what the Olympics are. 


What you would you like to be doing in the future and do you have any goals?

I have a lot of goals. I want to become a Paralympic Equestrian competitor with Team USA. I am also working on my USDF Bronze Medal and earned some scores for it last year. I got classified as a Para Dressage Equestrian at age nine, and I became the youngest in the United States and still am. At the time I wanted to compete locally until I could do FEI shows.  I was allowed to compete FEI international shows when I was fourteen and got my international Para classification. Then I became the youngest in the world. Now there are a few riders a little younger than me, but I am still the youngest Grade IV Para. Next year I plan to be back in CPEDI shows.

In addition to riding and goals, I was recently named the U.S. Para Equestrian Association representative to the USEF National Youth Advisory Board. This is a group of young riders who get together and we talk about ideas of how to make our sport better from the youth perspective. USPEA also nominated me for the National Youth Sportsman’s Award, and I was chosen as the reserve overall winner. The USPEA support means everything to me, as the founder, Hope Hand, was the person who introduced me to Para competition and believed in me

Have you ever had to deal with nerves in riding?

I don’t get nervous. I don’t know why. I get excited to be riding, especially when it’s an FEI show. My mom says I get anxious, but I think it’s more energy than worry. I always feel calm once I am on the horse and then everything is perfectly fine. It’s the best feeling.

Do you have any rituals before competing?

I don’t have any, I guess that is my good luck ritual.


Your Top Tip

 I think the best tip I can offer is to listen. I am the only minor of the 13 U.S. Para riders qualified for FEI shows. The other ladies know so much more than I do, and I’m grateful most of them have been so helpful in sharing their experiences and helping me. If I don’t know what to say or do, I will usually smile and listen. I have learned a lot that way.

What is the best piece of advice that you have ever been given?

  It’s from my dad: Be persistent and consistent. My dad gives good advice.



Down the Centre Line


Who would be your dream horse to ride?

  Probably everyone would say this, but Valegro.  

Who is your equestrian hero?

  Charlotte DuJardin  

If you could have five people to dinner, who would they be?                         

  Carl Hester, Ruby Hughes, Jessica Von Bredow-Werndl, Julio Mendoza, Ingrid Klimke  


Favourite colour horse?              


Favourite horse event?

  Dressage World Championships  


Favourite food?              

  Strawberries. I’ll eat almost anything with strawberries  


Favourite way to relax?                                                            

  Listening to music  


Favourite film?                                                                            

  Die Hard & Usual Suspects (I can’t choose)


Do you have any rituals before competing?

  I don’t have any, I guess that is my good luck ritual.

Want More?

If you enjoyed meeting Genevieve you might like to view more dressage rider “chatting with” interviews here .  You can keep up with Genevieve’s progress and check out her instagram page here             Mulberry Tree Dressage Interview Genevieve Rohner Grade IV Para Equestrian  

Sharon Howe

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Hi! I am Sharon Howe

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