Rancho Murieta, California – Lara Oles of Heber City, Utah and her mare, Bella, earned qualifying scores while showing at the Golden State Dressage Classic in Rancho Murieta, California last weekend. The pair took two firsts and a second with scores of 69% in the Grade III Team Test, 67% in the Grade III Individual Test and 69% in the Freestyle. They are now eligible to compete for a slot on the 2016 United States Paralympic Equestrian Team.
The Paralympic Selection Trials will be held in early 2016 at a yet to be determined site. Para-Dressage riders from all over the United States will be vying for four slots on the Paralympic Team. “This was our first International show, and I am very happy with our results. Over the next year as Bella and I develop our partnership and skills, I think we will be even more competitive. I am excited for our future!”
Oles was in a freak skiing accident in 2006 that damaged her spinal cord, leaving her right arm permanently paralyzed and stroke-like symptoms in her right leg. Oles and Bella train with Annie Sweet at Sage Creek Equestrian in Heber City, Utah. Oles is well known in the Utah horse community as a determined competitor and as the state’s first internationally classified Para Dressage rider.
Dressage is an equestrian discipline where a horse accurately performs a series of precise patterns while receiving subtle cues from the rider. Para Dressage adapts dressage for physically disabled riders and has been a Paralympic event since 1996.
Oles thanks all her supporters and sponsors who have helped her along the way and says, “All competitive sport is expensive at the high performance level, but when a horse is your team mate the costs are out of reach for middle-income workers like my husband and I. Without their help, we will not be able to afford to compete at the Paralympic Selection Trials.”