From archery to rowing, guests at this weekend’s (25 October 2015) first regional Para Sport Event, hosted by Hoof, the British Equestrian Federation’s participation programme, enjoyed a flavour of the opportunities available within disability sport. Northamptonshire’s Moulton College opened their doors to a host of budding participants who got to see para-equestrian dressage in action at the live demonstrations, along with the chance to meet Paralympic gold medallist Sophie Wells MBE.
Experts were on hand throughout the day from six Paralympic sports; para-cycling, para-sailing, wheelchair basketball, archery, para-equestrian dressage and para-rowing, along with para-equestrian driving. Each parasport provided taster sessions and advice on the various avenues into disability sport.
Two para-equestrian dressage sessions saw members of Riding for the Disabled (RDA) and British Dressage demonstrate the skills and benefits of riding for people with disabilities. Vicky Nurcombe, a keen horse rider and successful showing competitor since the age of four, demonstrated how horse riding has benefited her as a form of physical therapy following a stroke which left her paralysed on the righthand side of her body. “My involvement in para-dressage has given me a new lease of life – I am a very ambitious person, love competing and I have very clear goals of what I want to achieve.
“There must be many others out there that would benefit. Anything that raises awareness of the sport and inspires people to have a go is extremely worthwhile”, commented Vicky.
Paralympian Sophie Wells treated lucky visitors to coaching advice on Hoof’s mechanical horse, as well as giving them the chance to get their hands on her Paralympic medals; “I think people see the disability and impairment rather than your ability – that’s been partly what I wanted to prove in competing in able-bodied sport. Just because you are maybe at more of a disadvantage, doesn’t mean you don’t have the ability to compete against other people.”
Sophie added; “Today is really important just to keep that legacy of London 2012 going.”
It is hoped that yesterday’s inaugural event will be the beginning of future events to come, providing more people with more opportunities to get involved in sport at all levels. For information on how you can get involved in horse riding and para-equestrian dressage visit: www.hoofride.co.uk