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Inner Vision Championships Bring Challenging Dressage Competition to United States

Huntington, NY—June 3, 2002—Top equestrians from 10 countries will arrive in New York this summer for an international dressage championship that will feature riders with physical disabilities competing on borrowed horses after mere hours of training together.

The Inner Vision Championships for Riders with a Disability will include an unprecedented international competition for blind or visually impaired riders. Challenging enough, these gifted riders will have only three days to train with horses assigned to them by a "draw" on July 9. Training sessions for the competitors will be held July 9-11, followed by a warm-up competition on July 12 and Championship Finals on July 13.

"We are thrilled that we are able to host this caliber of international competition for riders with physical disabilities," said Denise I. Avolio, chairman of the organizing committee. "Without doubt, we will be impressed with the level of riding by these gifted equestrians. I expect we will also be in awe and inspired by their abilities."

The Inner Vision Championships, approved and recognized by the International Paralympic Equestrian Committee (IPEC), will bring together riders from Canada, France, Ireland, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Japan, Portugal, Russia and the United States to compete in team and individual events. A highlight will be the compulsory freestyle competition featuring individual tests designed by each rider and set to music, much like freestyle figure-skating competitions.

Individual championship competition will begin at 8:00 a.m., Saturday, July 13, followed by musical freestyle competition at 1:00 p.m. The five-day event takes place at Willow Tree Farm at Caumsett State Historic Park in Huntington, NY. The public is invited and admission is free.

Although the tests they ride are written specifically for riders with disabilities, the blind or visually impaired riders will maneuver their mounts through dressage tests that include movements equal to USA Equestrian fourth level tests for sighted riders.

The only concession to the riders’ visual disabilities is the use of "living letters," trained volunteers who call out their assigned letter so that the riders are able to visualize where they are in the dressage arena. However, unlike sighted riders who train for years on familiar horses, these visually impaired competitors will ride horses borrowed from local or regional horse owners and allocated through a draw.

"As if they’re not challenged enough by their vision problems, these riders have less than a week to practice and become familiar with their horses," Avolio said. "Borrowed horses are often used because the sport is still young, and riders don’t yet have the financial support needed to bring their own horses to international competitions. It would be prohibitively expensive for countries to send teams if they had to ship horses abroad as well."

For the Inner Vision Championships, nations were invited to enter a maximum of four riders. Consistent with IPEC rules, competitive levels range from novice to Grade IV. Medals will be awarded following the warm-up, individual championship, freestyle to music and team competition within each grade. A High Score Award will be given to the equestrian from any grade who scores the highest percentage score on his or her individual championship test.

The following tests and competitions are offered:

· Grade I Warm-Up - Test 8
Individual Championship – Test 9
Freestyle to Music
· Grade II Warm-Up - Test 25
Individual Championship – Test 26
Freestyle to Music
· Grade III Warm-Up - Test 35
Individual Championship – Test 36
Freestyle to Music
· Grade IV Warm-Up – Test 51
Individual Championship – Test 53
Freestyle to Music

Individual championships will be awarded in each division by calculating the combined percentage scores of the Individual Championship and Freestyle to Music tests. A High Score Award will be given to the blind or visually impaired equestrian from any grade who scores the highest percentage score on his or her individual championship test. Awards presentation will follow the competition.

The Inner Vision Championships are a sign of the increasing popularity of competitions for riders with a disability. “More horse sport organizations are initiating competitions for riders with disabilities,” Avolio said.

The first-of-its-kind competition, the Inner Vision Championships is co-hosted by the National Disability Sports Alliance (NDSA) and Pal-O-Mine Equestrian, Inc. Both are 501(c)3 not-for-profit organizations.

NDSA is recognized as 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.

For more information on the Championships, contact Denise Avolio at (914) 949-8166 or or Lisa A. Gatti, competition manager, at (631) 427-6105 or

The website address for the Inner Vision Championships is


Long Island Expressway Exit 49 North, or Northern State Parkway Exit 40 North, to Route 110.
Proceed on Route 110 North, through the town of Huntington to Northern Blvd. (Route 25A).
Make a left turn onto Route 25A.
At the third traffic light make a right turn on to West Neck Road.
Follow for approximately 5 miles, over causeway. (Note: speed limit is enforced very strictly in this area!)
Turn left at entrance to Caumsett State Park.
Proceed to Security Booth and follow signs to stables

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