National Disability Independence Day: Equestrian Version

Today is National Disability Independence Day.  It marks the day that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law by George H.W. Bush in 1990.

By definition of the ADA website, the Act is “a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.  The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.”

If there weren’t already plenty of fantastic things about equestrian sport, it’s also home to strong Paralympic competition across the globe, along with numerous other organizations with competition for individuals with disabilities.  In addition, horseback therapy is incredibly beneficial for individuals.  Here are a just a few awesome programs and organizations!

Photo by Emily Peak/AQHA.

American Quarter Horse Association

The American Quarter Horse Association has an entire division called Equestrians with Disabilities, with over 20 classes.  Classes include reining, trail, and hunter seat equitation.  That’s more classes offered than the last jumper show I attended!

Photo by Beaming, Inc.

Beaming, Inc.

Beaming, Inc., based in Wisconsin, offers therapeutic riding to promote physical and mental health for children, teens, and adults.  The organization offers an entire camp, as well as ongoing programming.  Examples of adult attendees include those with diagnoses of: amputations, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, stroke, anxiety, depression and PTSD.

Photo by Move United.

Move United

Move United is a national organization with over 60,000 athletes supported nationwide across multiple chapters and sports, from skateboarding to taekwondo to kayaking.  Of course, we can’t forget equestrian sports, either!  Lessons are offered, as well as specific military programs, and participants do not have to compete.

Photo by Liz Gregg/FEI.

Paralympics (Para-Dressage)

We can’t forget about the Paralympics, either – the pinnacle of competition.  It’s absolutely incredible with athletes can accomplish while showing — and they show with essentially the same dressage tests that we’re all riding ourselves!  Watch the video below to see the gold medal winners for Para-Dressage Grades II, IV, and V from the Tryon World Equestrian Games 2018 in action:

Let’s celebrate our sport today and its inclusiveness of disabilities, both visible and invisible.

Go Riding!