Para-Equestrian events will be part of the 2010 FEI Games in Kentucky, it has been announced. For the first time in the history of the FEI Games, all eight disciplines will take place in one venue, outside Europe. “Our commitment to the games and the magnificent facilities at the Kentucky Horse Park will allow the para-equestrian portion of the games to be held simultaneously with other disciplines for the first time ever,” Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher was able to confirm.

According to the International Paralympic Equestrian Committee (IPEC), the aim of para-equestrian sport is to foster the growth and excellence of international equestrian sport for athletes with a disability by providing competition opportunities for riders and drivers with disabilities to enable them to achieve their personal best performance in their chosen discipline.

“Our athletes with disabilities have unfortunately not received the attention and respect they deserve,” said Debbie Banfield, President of the United States Driving for the Disabled, Inc. “By holding the para-equestrian events in conjunction with the other FEI Game disciplines it gives those special equestrians the equal opportunity to share the same excitement of the entire FEI competition along with all other equestrian athletes.”

Dressage and driving are the selected para-equestrian disciplines at the FEI Games. In 1991, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) appointed IPEC to run competitions and develop equestrian sport all over the world. In 2005, 38 nations from five continents competed. IPEC has now joined the FEI as para-equestrian (FEI PE), their 8th discipline.

Para-equestrian athletes are graded according to their impairment in order to compete on an equal level. “The most athletes with disabilities (Grade Ia) ride tests in walk only; the least disabled (Grade IV) ride tests of medium (M) standard,” a spokesperson for IPC explained. “When necessary, riders can use compensating aids approved by FEI PE, such as a special saddle, adapted reins, elastic bands, two whips etc.”

For more information on para-equestrian, click on www.ipec-athletes.de.

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