By Duncan Mackay

Laureen K JohnsonJanuary 14 - Laureen K. Johnson has been appointed by the United States Para-Equestrian Association (USPEA) as its new high performance director, it has been announced.

The Chicago-born Johnson has been with the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), who the USPEA are affiliated to, since 1999, where she assisted every high performance discipline except able-bodied dressage.

Johnson's new role will also include her being the director of vaulting and assistant to the high performance director of driving.

But her main target will be helping America's riders preparing for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The US failed to win a medal at London 2012.

"I love the artistry and elegance of dressage and driving," said Johnson, who has been involved in the sport since she was 16 and received her first horse, Sweet William, as a gift from her parents.

"The disabled athletes never cease to amaze me with their dedication and 'can do' attitudes.

"They are an extremely positive group of athletes.

"The biggest challenge is fundraising and securing high-quality, competitive horses. 

"The budget for Para-equestrian and vaulting is limited, so it is imperative that the athletes receive more funding, which will help increase their international presence."

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