Houghton College alumnus Wesley Dunham ’87 and his mare, Western Rose, have qualified for the 2012 Para-Equestrian Olympics in London as coach and mount for Donna Ponessa.
Dunham is the proprietor of Millbrook Show Horse, a full-care horse facility specializing in show jumping and dressage in Millbrook, N.Y. Dunham manages the full dressage facilities and spends each day teaching riders and horses to perform at their utmost potential. His training is geared toward the individual rider’s goals and the discipline the rider is interested in pursuing.
Dunham’s equestrian pursuits began at a very young age when his parents bought him a pony for his birthday. He sustained this passion into his Houghton College years, where he majored in physical education and became heavily involved in Houghton’s farm and equestrian club. “Allowing my horse to be part of the college experience for me was amazing and one that I will never forget,” said Dunham.
Ponessa, the Paralympian whom Dunham currently coaches, is rated as a Grade 1B disability, and is internationally certified as a Grade 1A Para-Equestrian by the Fédération Equestre Internationale. Ponessa’s relentless drive has allowed her to triumph through various complications of multiple sclerosis. Since becoming a contender for the 2012 Paralympics, Ponessa began training with Dunham.
“It is an honor to be representing our country in the Paralympics with a student I coach and a horse I own,” Dunham said. “I feel very blessed for this opportunity and responsibility.”