The 2020 FEI Games ™ in Kentucky will make international equine history. For the first time event, para-equestrian events will be a part of the FEI Games™. All of the events have never been held together before.
“For the first time in the history of the FEI Games, not only will the games be held outside of Europe, but all eight disciplines will take place in one venue.” said Governor Ernie Fletcher, appearing at the 2006 Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event to make the announcement. “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.” The Kentucky Horse park also offers another first in the history of the FEI Games. With the size and facilities available, for the first time ever, alldisciplines will be held in one venue.
The disciplines will be for Dressage and Driving. Attending the press conference were Keith Newerla, and Lynn Seidemann, both Athletes Grade 1, Dressage. Newerla was the Grand Champion at both the 2003 and 2004 National Disability Alliance (NDSA) Championship. Seidemann is the current World Champion Grade 1, winning the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens following the Olympic Games, and was the only member of the 2004 Paralympic Dressage team that competed in the Paralympics before.
Speaking with Newerla, who is currently searching for a new horse, the challenges of the para-athlete goes well beyond their physical disabilities. In fact that is probably the lesser of the challenges facing the para athlete aspiring for such a high level. Financial support and sponsorship is critical to the success of their program. “For the para-athlete it is much more difficult to work in your sport to earn the funds necessary for competition.” Newerla told DressageDaily. “We all have jobs, which keeps us from training and competing full time.” said Newerla, who is currently a public relations intern at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia. “Able bodied athletes earn a living through training and teaching clinics.” Seidemann who also won the Gold medal at the 2003 World Championships and a Silver medal for their performance in the Musical Freestyle competition is a supply chain analyst for Microtune in Plano Texas.
“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 other FEI Games 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.”
With the inclusion of the Para-Equestrian Championships in the FEI Games Kentucky 2010, comes the opportunity for increased exposure and support throughout the equestrian world.