World Class Paralympic Dressage is looking for horses for squad riders to aim at 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.
The Paralympians are the most successful British equestrian team — winning five gold medals in Athens plus three bronzes — but World Class fears that this will not continue at Beijing and London if riders do not have sufficient horsepower.
Some squad members do not have permanent rides and horses ridden by former gold medallists may be too old to go to the next Games.
Team trainer Michel Assouline said: “This opens the door for owners to have their horse at the Olympics. They will also have the pleasure of seeing their horse help a rider with a disability.”
Performance manager Will Connell added: “Their horses would be working with leading professionals and have access to the trainers and vets with the greatest expertise. We hope owners would get involved and come to shows, where they would feel part of the team.”
Horses must be suitable for this level of competition with Paralympic riders. The horses need to be trained to at least elementary or medium level. At grade four, the test is roughly at medium level but more advanced movements are performed in the freestyle.
Assouline explained: “How well the horses are trained is paramount. We really can’t take a horse that is difficult. They must not be lazy to the leg or strong in the mouth.”
The scheme is looking for horses for elite squad riders but it hopes to find horses to place with riders on the World Class Start and Potential programmes as well. The horses will be loaned to riders, with horse and rider assessed for suitability by the team trainer.
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