Special Olympics Equestrian is a not-for-profit organization that provides equestrian training and equestrian competition to children and adults with disabilities. Special Olympics Equestrian includes several riding disciplines.
Riders may choose either English or Western Tack, and enter the appropriate classes. Events offered are English Equitation on the Flat, Working Trails, Dressage, Prix Caprilli, Western Riding, Showmanship, Gymkhana Events, Drill Teams, and Team Relay.
All programs are free for the registered equestrian athletes. This includes insurance, facilities, equipment, uniforms, housing and meals for events, awards, education and more. Programs offered include local, county, sectional and state levels.
The organization operates on an annual budget primarily funded through individual, corporate, civic and foundation dollars that make up more than 98% of the annual operating budget.
In order to be eligible to participate in Special Olympics Equestrian, athletes must be at least eight years old and identified by an agency or professional as having one of the following conditions: Intellectual disability; a cognitive delay or a closely related developmental disability. Children ages 2 ½ to 7 are eligible to participate in the Young Athletes Program.
Athletes must commit to training and seasonal play to qualify for sectional and statewide competition opportunities. The practice or league, or club should be incorporated into an 8-10 week sports season that includes riding skills, training, fitness, rules, sportsmanship, and competition strategy.
Training should be a riding facility that provides a safe and obstruction free venue for activity. Parents and the athletes need to commit to the entire seasonal experience.
Special Olympics provide training for coaches and parents. This training includes a plan for the equestrian training season, Equestrian Coaching Guide, teaching equestrian skills, rules, protocol and etiquette.
Special Olympics Equestrian operates under a non-judgmental environment, a community of families who focus on the values of acceptance, awareness, and respect. The athletes enjoy friends, a sense of pride and accomplishment through participation. You can get involved by getting in touch with the closest Special Olympics Office.