DANVILLE — “It’s remarkable seeing what the riders are able to accomplish in this competition,” said Deb Nelis, volunteer coordinator of Special Olympics Indiana.
The equestrian competition of Special Olympics Indiana was held at the Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds in Danville on Friday evening and into Saturday.
More than 70 riders participated in Friday’s events, and all had fans turn out to watch and cheer them on.
The competition has been going on for about ten years now, with quite a few of those years at the Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds complex.
Duchess Adjei, manager of marketing and public relations at the Indiana Special Olympics, said there were many more athletes competing this year than last.
“It’s exciting,” she said. “These are the first events to show the EKS games. It’s a beautiful location. It really is something to see the athletes enjoying it. It’s pretty unique, and the riders can do it very successfully.”
There is no charge for the athletes to compete.
The riders have to practice at least eight weeks prior to the competition, but many start before then at horse therapy programs throughout the state, or with their own horses.
The horse therapy programs help and teach the athletes with different forms of disabilities such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, or any other emotional, medical, or altered learning disability.
Each horse therapy program has coaches that have to keep a medical clearance for their riders. Special Olympics Indiana has protocols in how to get the riders safely to a hospital if something should happen.
Riders sign up for the equestrian competition through their county, or the horse therapy programs come to Special Olympics Indiana for the riders to sign them up to show their skills. Many are return riders.
Pam Eakin, director of the program, said classes are categorized by an A, B or C category, based on the rider’s skills.