Lieutenant Governor to Officially Open International Para-Dressage Competition

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ashburn, Ontario - The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, will officially open North America's largest FEI Para-Equestrian competition in Ashburn, Ontario on May 28.  Celebrated as a champion for accessibility, Lieutenant Governor Onley will open the three-day WindReach International Para-Dressage CPEDI3* competition in the presence of Equine Canada CEO Akaash Maharaj.
The competition is an official qualifier for the 2010 World Equestrian Games, and will draw leading competitors and top officials from around the world. Of the 37 entries, 11 are Canadian Para-Dressage athletes, many of whom have had tremendous success on the international circuit.

Upon his arrival at WindReach Farm, the Lieutenant Governor will proceed to the farm's 'Bridge of Nations', where there will be a brief photo opportunity for attending media.  Many of the sport's well-known representatives will be at the stables to greet His Honour, including Paralympic Gold and Silver medalist Lauren Barwick, her fellow Para-Equestrian teammates and various competition officials and organizers.

"Even before being installed as our Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable David Onley has been a champion of equestrianism's ability to enable every person to realize his or her full potential,” said Akaash Maharaj, Chief Executive Officer of Equine Canada.  “We are, therefore, delighted and honoured that he will open the WindReach International Para-Dressage competition, and welcome some of the world's most accomplished equestrian athletes to Canada."

The competition's official welcome will take place 11:05 a.m., with a speech given by Equine Canada CEO Akaash Maharaj followed by official greetings from the Lieutenant Governor.  The competition's first rider will enter the main show ring at 11:30 a.m.    

The event will be held at WindReach Farm, a 109-acre property located northeast of Toronto in Ashburn, Ontario.  The farm is the life-long dream of founder Sandy Mitchell, an equestrian enthusiast born with cerebral palsy, and is designed to cater specifically to individuals with disabilities.  

Para-Dressage is the only Para-Equestrian sport recognized at the Paralympic level.  Riders are classified according to their functional abilities, and are judged on their riding skill against other athletes of the same grade.  

The Lieutenant Governor has lived with polio and post-polio syndrome since he was a small child, and has fought tirelessly to champion accessibility. 
  • Who:   The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
  • What:  Official start of WindReach International Para-Dressage CPEDI3* Competition
  • Where: Crossing the 'Bridge of Nations' at WindReach Farm, Ashburn, Ontario
  • When:  Friday, May 28, 2010, 10:15 a.m.
About WindReach Farm
Located at 312 Townline Road in Ashburn, Ontario, Canada, WindReach Farm is a fully wheelchair accessible working farm and registered charity.  

For the past twenty years, WindReach Farm has welcomed more than 20,000 visitors with physical and/or intellectual disabilities annually and continues to work with nearly 350 community organizations that include group homes, hospitals, schools and rest homes.  Since 1992, WindReach Farm has offered three main programs: the Visitors program, the Work Experience program, and the Accommodation program.

In 2003, WindReach Farm’s founder, Mr. Mitchell, constructed a fully accessible stable and riding arena, with the objective of providing recreational riding opportunities for individuals with a disability, as well as the ability to host Para-Equestrian competitions.  

In 2004, WindReach Farm hosted the first Canadian Open Paralympic Qualifier for Para-Dressage with resounding success, providing many Canadian riders with the opportunity to qualify for the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece.

In 2005, a therapeutic riding program was introduced at WindReach Farm, enabling individuals with disabilities from the Durham region and surrounding areas to do something that many able-bodied children will never have the opportunity to experience - learn to ride, care for, and develop a bond with a horse. Visit  

About Para-Equestrian Canada
Para-Equestrian Canada is the Equine Canada committee responsible for developing programs for athletes with a physical disability, and implementing the Para-Dressage high performance program. Para-Equestrian is one of Canada’s most successful international disciplines, achieving an individual gold medal and an individual silver medal at the 2008 Paralympic Games, as well as two individual bronze medals at the 2004 Paralympic Games.

About Para-Equestrian Sport
Para-Equestrian sport provides riders with a physical disability the opportunity to compete against other riders with similar abilities. Riders are given a “Grade” based on their functional ability, and are judged on their riding skill against other athletes of the same Grade.  There are five grades of competitions in dressage, with Grade IA representing the more severely impaired riders, and Grade IV representing the least severely impaired riders. Many Para-Equestrian athletes also compete alongside able-bodied competitors in Equine Canada competitions. At the grass roots level, Para-Equestrian encompasses a number of different disciplines, while the international stream focuses only on Para-Dressage.  For more information, please visit

About Equine Canada

Equine Canada is Canada’s national governing body for equestrianism.  A member-driven, charitable institution, it is the executive branch of the Canadian Equestrian Team, and the national authority for equestrian competition; the national voice for recreational riders; and the national association for equine welfare, breeding, and industry.  Equine Canada is recognised by the Government of Canada, the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), and the Canadian Olympic Committee as the national organisation representing equestrian sport and equine interests. For more information about Equine Canada, please visit