The Equestrian Competition of the Special Olympics World Games was established in 1987. Athletes from all over the world – more than 120 this year – compete in Dressage, English Equitation, Working Trails and Two-person Relay Team. According to the Special Olympics website, “Special Olympics Equestrian encompasses several disciplines. Riders may choose either English or Western tack, and enter the appropriate classes. At the present time, Dressage is the only Special Olympics event that parallels FEI. Other events have been chosen to offer a wide range of activities that athletes can participate in successfully. Equitation is judged on the rider’s position and ability to influence the horse, and is the basis for determining divisions.”
On Monday, the individuals competing arrived at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank where they were paired with horses, which were donated for the event, myFOXla.com reports. While many of the competitors have intellectual disabilities making connections with other people challenging, they are able to connect to horses, making the pairings imperative not only for the comfort of the horses, but for the comfort of the competitors.
One competitor, Robert Seignious, told myFOXla.com that riding makes him happy. “I love to compete and win medals,” he said.
Another competitor, Samuel Oliver, said that a friendship develops between rider and horse.
Samuel Oliver, 17, prepares for the Special Olympics World Games Equestrian Competition. Screenshot via myFOXla.com
It seems that the Equestrian Competition of the Special Olympics World Games is more than just a competition. Perhaps it (and the horses) gives the riders a welcomed confidence boost. Who wouldn’t want that?
The Special Olympics World Games Equestrian Competition is taking place today, July 28, 2015, through Saturday, August 1, 2015. Events on July 28 – July 31 are from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Events on August 1 are from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. The Equestrian Competition is held at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. For more details, visit the Special Olympics 2015 World Games website.