Rixt van der Horst celebrates retaining her para dressage individual title at the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon with her new horse, Findsley ©FEI

Rixt van der Horst of The Netherlands successfully defended her individual Para dressage title at the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Tryon.

Italy’s Sara Morganti, riding Royal Delight, also earned gold in the Grade 1 event, following her silver medal four years ago in Normandy, and Team USA earned its first WEG medal as Rebecca Hart took bronze in Grade III in front of a delighted home audience.

Van der Horst’s defence of her title came on her new horse, Findsley, on which she scored 73.735 per cent, finishing comfortably ahead of Great Britain’s Rio 2016 triple gold medallist Natasha Baker, who rode Mount Saint John Diva Dannebrog to score 72.471 per cent.

America's Rebecca Hart finished with 71.618 per cent, riding El Corona Texel.

After collecting her medal, van der Horst said: "It is so amazing to be world champion again, I am really happy.

"During my test I didn’t realise it was that good, I wasn’t thinking about it so it’s just amazing. 

"In the beginning I was nervous but I relaxed during the test and it got better and better. 

"I was just enjoying my ride.”

Like Baker, van der Horst has only been riding her horse since the start of the year and, while competitive, was not sure she would defend her title. 

"I hoped for this," she added, "and to be at WEG, but to get a gold medal is a dream come true again."

For Hart, a bronze medal came after fourth-place finishes at the 2010 WEG in Lexington and at the 2012 Paralympics in London.

"I’m finally not the bridesmaid," she said.

"I’ve been crying for the last hour and to be able to do it on home turf with my family watching - and to be the US’s first WEG medallist ever - well, this won’t be coming off my neck for a long time!"

With all the individual test titles now decided, The Netherlands sits comfortably on top of the Para Dressage medal table with two golds, a bronze and a silver, having won a medal in every class in which it has competed. 

Britain lies second with one gold and one silver, with Denmark third with a gold and bronze.

Tomorrow is due to the start of two days of team competition with Britain yet to be defeated at European, world or Paralympic level.