Thousand Oaks, CA - This spring Para-Equestrians were treated to a dressage clinic with Olympian Debbie McDonald. The clinic took place during the Dressage Affaire at the Del Mar Horse Park in Del Mar, California on March 15-16, 2010. This informational clinic was a wonderful opportunity for riders that are preparing for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™. For McDonald this clinic proved to be a learning experience not only for the participants but for herself as well.
McDonald noted, "This clinic was a learning experience not only for them but for me. I have never had a rider that was paralyzed from the neck down. At first I was not sure exactly on how to work on each of the riders but I developed a strategy to work on controlling the body. These exercises included sitting up taller, increase stretching, and many other techniques to increase their strength. I worked with the para-equestrians just as I would school my own riders."
During the one-day clinic riders had a chance to demonstrate their riding abilities either on their own horses or horses they had borrowed. The clinic consisted of not only para-equestrians but able bodies riders as well. It acted as a skill building clinic along with a preparation clinic for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™.
McDonald smile, "This was the second time I had worked with para-equestrians. I found each one of them to be so refreshing and inspiring. I love their enthusiasm!"
Many of the para-equestrian programs are still in their infancy. Clinics like the one McDonald conducted for these riders are helping to increase the knowledge and popularity of this sport. McDonald commented, "I think it is wonderful to see the sharing between the para-equestrians and the able bodied riders. This sport is growing so much and is moving in the right direction. If this sport keeps growing as it has I would like to say that in 2012 they will be in good contention for a medal for the United States.
As with each of the equestrian disciplines it is the support that furthers the development of the sport. "We have to keep working to get that for them," explained McDonald.
The United States Para-Equestrian Association (USPEA) would like to thank everyone who was involved with preparing this clinic and of course Debbie McDonald who conducted the clinic. Lastly, McDonald and the USPEA would like to recognize the Shea Center in San Juan Capistrano, CA. Therapeutic riding centers like the Shea Center are a great place where Para-Equestrian riders begin their journeys as equestrians. About the United States Para-Equestrian Association:
The USPEA includes every equestrian discipline that is practiced by athletes with physical disabilities. Each rider or driver competes under the eighth discipline, The Para-Equestrian discipline, of the United States Equestrian Federation. This year, at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™, the Para-Equestrian discipline will make history. The USEF High Performance Para-Equestrian Dressage team will compete as an FEI sport for the first time at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ held in Lexington, KY.
About the United States Para-Equestrian Association:
The USPEA is a recognized affiliated of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF). The USPEA provides programs, clinics, and competition opportunities for athletes with physical disabilities. Riders compete under the USEF rules during their national competitions and FEI rules during international competition and many of the athletes compete at the highest level of their sport.
For more information about the USPEA or for donation opportunities, please contact Hope Hand, President of the USPEA, email Wheeler966@aol.com or by phone: (610)356-6481. To view online information about the USPEA please visit http://www.USPEA.org.
Photo Credit: Debbie McDonald© 2010 Lauren Fisher/PMG.