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Eye to “I”: Inner Vision Championships for Riders With A Disability Attracts International Riders

HUNTINGTON, NY—March 12, 2002—Riders from five nations have accepted invitations to the first Inner Vision Championships for Riders with a Disability. The Championships are being organized by the National Disability Sports Alliance and Pal-O-Mine Equestrian, Inc. and will be held at Willow Tree Farm at Caumsett State Historic Park in Huntington, NY, July 9-13 and will feature a special competition for blind and visually impaired riders.

Russia, Japan, Canada and Germany will join the U.S. with riders in the championship dressage competition, which has been approved and recognized by the International Paralympic Equestrian Committee. Other than the Paralympic Games, this competition will be the first international championship for riders with disabilities held in this country.

“We are thrilled to have had such quick response to our invitation to compete,” said Denise I. Avolio, Chairman of the Organizing Committee and NDSA Equestrian Sports Manager. “This shows that these riders are eager for opportunities to compete at these high levels.”

Blind riders compete in the same dressage arena as sighted riders, maneuvering their mounts through dressage tests that include movements equal to USA Equestrian fourth level tests for sighted riders. The only concession to their disability is that these riders may use “living letters” to help them in navigating their tests. As the riders guide their horses around the arena, trained volunteers call out “A,” “B,” or whatever their assigned letter so that the riders are able to visualize where they are in the arena.

However, unlike sighted riders who often train for years on familiar horses, these visually impaired riders will be allocated horses through a draw and will have less than a week to practice before going into competition.

“It is truly a challenge for these riders’ skills,” said Avolio. “Borrowed horses are often used because the sport is still young, and riders do not yet have the financial support to bring their own horses to international competitions. It would be prohibitively expensive for countries to send teams if they had to ship horses from abroad as well.”

Avolio says the Inner Vision Championships is a sign of the growing popularity of competitions for riders with a disability. More and more horse sport organizations are initiating competitions for riders with disabilities.

The National Disability Sports Alliance is the national governing body for equestrian sport for riders with disabilities. NDSA is responsible for the development and selection of riders for national championship and international competitions, including the Paralympic Games, and provides training, competition and advocacy for riders with physical disabilities.

Pal-O-Mine Equestrian, Inc. is a therapeutic riding program located in Huntington, NY that provides therapeutic, recreational and competitive horseback riding opportunities for people with physical, emotional and cognitive disabilities.

Both NDSA and Pal-O-Mine are 501(c)3 organizations. Donations and sponsorships are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Those interested in sponsorship opportunities or other ways of supporting the Championships should contact Denise Avolio at (914) 949-8166 or, or Lisa A. Gatti, Competition Manager, at (631) 427-6105 or

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