British Showjumping (BS) is to hold a series of para showjumping training days early this year to address a growing demand.

Interest has been rising steadily since the London Olympics and Paralympics. 9 more para riders joined BS last year, which has resulted in “giant developmental steps”, said Rebecca Turner, BS sport team administrator.

The para training days organised will be aimed at improving coaches’ confidence to teach para riders, increase the number of BS trainers available and identify a network of coaches with an interest in doing so. They will also offer para jumpers the opportunity to develop their riding skills and knowledge.

“We are still planning, but we want one in the north and one in the south during January or February,” said Ms Turner.

Para showjumper Toby Bevins (pictured below), 21, recorded the UK’s top result at a para showjumping event in La Baule, France, last summer.

Para showjumper Toby Bevins

Toby, who is paralysed down one side, told H&H: “There are lots more opportunities and support, but we need more people — particularly blind riders — to give us a bit more of a challenge.”

BS is working with the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) to help grass roots RDA riders to progress to BS competition.

Doug Smith, RDA showjumping committee member and former organiser of the RDA annual championships, said people could start from the “lowest levels upwards”.

Toby Bevins added: “Para riders have always wanted to jump.

“Numbers are still small, and the public still needs convincing that people with disabilities can and want to jump — but we’re working on awareness and acceptance, like para dressage did all those years ago.”

Any coaches or volunteers interested in becoming involved should contact Rebecca.Turner@britishshowjumping.co.uk

Para jumping’s achievements in 2013

  • 9 new para jumpers joined BS, which now has 25 active para jumping members
  • The National Para Club Championships were held for the first time at Bishop Burton College on 18 August, as part of British Showjumping’s Northern Club Championships
  • A record 14 riders competed in a para jumping demonstration at the Scope Festival on 28 August
  • 6 riders — sponsored by KBIS — competed at an international para jumping event at La Baule, including a win for Toby Bevins in the amateur 1.10m section. Britain sent 3 riders to the event last year.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (3 January 2014). Pictures courtesy of British Showjumping