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National Disability Sports Alliance Conducts Successful Forum on Judging Dressage Riders With Physical Disabilities

Kingston, RI—April 3, 2003—Following up on the success of its initial judges forum last November, the National Disability Sports Alliance (NDSA), in association with USA Equestrian (USAE), held a forum on judging dressage riders with physical disabilities at Quiet Oaks Farm in Winter Garden, FL, March 17-19, 2003.

The forum, recognized by the International Paralympic Equestrian Committee (IPEC), was designed to provide judges with an overview of all aspects of judging dressage for riders with disabilities. It included discussions of criteria for becoming an IPEC international judge, IPEC rules and dressage tests, USAE programs, and descriptions of recognized disabilities. There were also demonstrations and actual opportunities for judging riders with disabilities.

IPEC Chairwoman Jonquil Solt and IPEC Master Judge Alison Mastin led the forum and there was a total of seven judges who participated. Three of these participants qualified to be named I.P.E.C. candidate judges, three were named I.P.E.C. provisional judges and one was designated a National Judge.

“Once again, we got tremendous response to the judges forum,” said Denise Avolio, NDSA Equestrian Program Manager who, along with Andrea Ice of USAE, coordinated the forum. “Our goal here is to provide new opportunities for riders with physical disabilities to compete. One way to do this is to open doors at established shows by expanding the pool of judges qualified to judge these riders.”

In IPEC classes, riders with disabilities are judged with able-bodied rules, but allowances are given for compensating aids. For example, in an IPEC class, special reins that can be held in one hand would not be penalized.

The NDSA hosted a similar judges’ forum in November 2002 at the United States Equestrian Team (USET) Olympic Training Center in Gladstone, NJ. That forum was a tremendous success, leading to the call for more forums and another one now is being planned for next year on the west coast.

The IPEC is the international governing body for equestrian sports for riders with disabilities. It is responsible for international rules, sanctioning of international competitions, and for Paralympic Games and World Championships. For more information about the IPEC, please visit their website at or contact Jonquil Solt by email at

The National Disability Sports Alliance is the national governing body for equestrian sport for equestrian athletes with disabilities. The non-profit organization is responsible for the development and selection of riders for national championships and international competitions, including World Championships and the Paralympic Games, and provides training, competition and advocacy for riders of all levels with physical disabilities. For more information about NDSA and opportunities to support the programs, please visit our website at or contact Denise Avolio at (914) 949-8166 or




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