Special Olympics: Finding horses for courses

Members of the Wanaka Riding for the Disabled team introduce themselves to Owaka horse Throwa at...
Members of the Wanaka Riding for the Disabled team introduce themselves to Owaka horse Throwa at Telford yesterday. Pictured (from left) are Chloe Wigg, Simon Scaife, Anna Freeman, coach Carol Armstrong and Morgan James. Volunteers are in the background. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Simon Scaife gave the Wanaka equestrian team a flying start when he won a bronze medal at Telford yesterday.

The Summer Games equestrian event is being held at Telford in South Otago and Scaife (32) won his bronze medal in the equitation event.

Scaife is one of four riders from the Timber Creek Equestrian Centre at Wanaka competing in the Summer Games.

The others are Chloe Wigg (16), Anna Freeman (20), and Morgan James (22). Disabled people get a buzz when they learn the skills and ride horses.

''They seem to have a natural understanding with the horse,'' Wanaka coach Carol Armstrong said.

''After a short period of time the rhythm of the horse's movement seems to relax the rider and they start to do things they usually can't do.

''There is something physically that goes on between the horse and the rider.

''Perhaps the movement on the horse compensates for the lack of movement they have in their own bodies. It is very therapeutic for them.''

There was a lot of preliminary work to be done before the competition began yesterday afternoon. A day and a-half was needed to match every rider with a horse.

Competition manager Roslein Wilkes said: ''We had the riders and horse profile and had to match the two. If the riders don't like it, they can try another horse.''

Wilkes was impressed by the standard of the riders.

''We have some beginners,'' she said.

''But the more experienced riders are very good and can compete in open competition.''

There are 32 horses and 42 riders in 10 equestrian teams competing in the Summer Games at Telford.

The teams are staying at Telford and the horses for the event are on loan from farmers and other people in the South Otago.


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