February 2015 - Calling All Horses & Helpers!
Written by Sara Jones
Wednesday, 04 February 2015 07:57
PDF Print E-mail

Equestrian sport is part of the Special Olympics World Games coming to Los Angeles in July.

by Sara Jones

Isabel Pino at Ride On’s recent Trailfest.

Catie Richardson riding Lusco on the trail course at the CALNET Horseshow. Photo: Matt Gibb

Seven thousand athletes with intellectual disabilities will be coming to Los Angeles this summer to compete in dozens of sports, including equestrian. Ride On Therapeutic Horsemanship has been selected to manage the eight days of training and competition to be held at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center beginning July 24.

The equestrian portion of the World Games will see over 130 athletes from 27 countries speaking 16 languages. They will compete in four disciplines: equitation, trail, dressage and a team relay.

Mounting all these athletes flying in from across the world will require a very challenging feat: finding 80 sound, safe, experienced horses that we can safely match to the athletes. Borrowed-horse competitions are rare and notoriously difficult to organize. We need to identify appropriate horses and, equally important, owners willing to entrust their equine partners to us for a weeklong competition.

This is why we are inviting horse owners to come along for the ride and volunteer to groom at the show - it will be an amazing experience! If you are unable to volunteer we promise we will treat your horse like one of our own. In fact, we’re bringing 20 of Ride On’s horses so the job is now to find about 60 more horses from the Southern California equestrian community..

Natalie Charannot at a Schooling Dressage Show at White Birch.

The World Games Organizing Committee selected Ride On in part because we’ve been running horseshows at the LAEC for the disabled for 18 years, partly because we put 200 individuals with disabilities on horseback each week, and partly because its founders have experience with the unique challenges of this type of international competition.

Ride On Program Director Gloria Hamblin is a three-time coach of U.S. Dressage teams competing at the Paralympic and World Championship levels. Ride On Executive Director Bryan McQueeney was the top manager at the 1996 Paralympic Dressage Championship Competition in Atlanta. The Atlanta Paralympics mounted 54 disabled athletes on borrowed horses from a dozen countries over a two-week period.

We also will need a team of show-experienced volunteers to run the show. Individuals who commit at least five days will be official World Games volunteers, come away with amazing memories and get a bunch of World Games swag.

The Special Olympics World Games will be the largest humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015 and the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games. In addition to 7,000 athletes, the Games will welcome 3,000 coaches representing 177 countries, along with 30,000 volunteers and an anticipated 500,000 spectators. Equestrian is one of 25 Olympic style sports included in the World Games.

Author Sara Jones is Ride On’s Development Director and Deputy Competition Manager, Equestrian Special Olympics World Games. For more information about the Games, visit www.LA2015.org; to inquire about lending your horse, contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; and about volunteering, contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .