CalNET Show Lets Disabled Riders Display Their SkillsBy Kelly Sanchez March 1, 2011
In a world that tends to define them by what they cannot do, children, youth and adults with disabilities are often hard-pressed to find activities that allow them to demonstrate their abilities and have fun as well. Therapeutic horseback riding is one such outlet. Long established as a beneficial aid to those with physical, cognitive and emotional challenges, therapeutic riding incorporates physical therapy techniques with traditional horsemanship skills to improve everything from postural control and attention span to self-esteem.
On May 14 and 15 therapeutic riding centers throughout California will gather at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center for the annual CalNET championship horse show for riders with disabilities, one of the largest such shows in the U.S. Founded in 1985 and run by volunteers, the nonprofit CalNET association serves to promote the development of disabled equestrians on the West Coast while giving more than 100 therapeutic riding centers around the state a communication network, offering continuing education to professionals and providing safe competition opportunities for riders with disabilities.
Show manager Bryan McQueeney, who’s also the executive director of Ride On Therapeutic Horsemanship, says that approximately 100 riders with disabilities from 12 different riding centers participated in last year’s show. “We’ve been at the L.A. Equestrian Center since 1997, when Ride On took over organizing the show,” he notes. “It’s an all-volunteer effort, and the goal of the show is to give disabled riders a world-class competition
experience at a world-class facility.” CalNET ensures that the show is free to disabled participants, while riding centers are charged only a nominal fee for stalls. “We need to raise about $20,000 a year to cover the costs,” McQueeney adds.
On May 13, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., there’ll be a para-equestrian clinic co-hosted by CalNET, the U.S. Para-Equestrian Association (USPEA) and the USEF and featuring USPEA co-founders Lynn Seidemann and Hope Hand and U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage Team assistant coach Sharon Schneidman, among others. There’ll also be educational sessions on vaulting and saddle fitting. On May 15 CalNET will host a dressage schooling show in the Equidome that is open to all competitors—with and without disabilities. Classes are only $25 apiece, and the judge is USDF bronze-, silver- and gold-medalist and “L” judge Lehua Custer.
For more information, contact Bryan McQueeney, at firstname.lastname@example.org; www.calnetshow.org.
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