Cardiff welcomes Special Olympics

  • More than 100 riders with learning disabilities will put their equestrian skills to the test at the Special Olympics in Cardiff from 29 July – 3 August .

    Teams from all corners of the UK will compete in dressage and horse care.

    Top level riders will also compete in pre-caprille, a combination ofdressage and jumping while other competitors will take part in a handy pony type competition with a variety of obstacles.

    The City ofCardiff Riding School, which adjoins the castle grounds in the city centre, will host the equestrian section of the Olympics, one of 16 sports which will bring a total of 2,500 athletes to Cardiff.

    The four equestrian competition days are being co-ordinated by PennyPembridge, manager of the riding school.

    “A competition field is alreadybeing fenced and temporary stabling will be drafted in to accommodate the horses,” said Penny.

    It was Mavis Ward of Wirral Riding Centre, Cheshire,who first brought the Special Olympicst to the UK 14 years ago. “We have 15 regionscompeting this year, the largest team is the Eastern with 14 riders,” she said.

    Competitions are run on an individual basis and winners are then invited through aselection process to go on to international level.

    “For many of the riders who live in homes or sheltered accommodation this is understandably the highlight of their lives,” said Mavis Ward. “For the organisers and volunteers it is equally gratifying to see riders who at one time could only sit on a horse, jumping and speeding through obstacles.”

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