Special Olympics: State Competition

Spring at Heroes on Horseback was busy with training in preparation to compete at the State Special Olympics Equestrian Competition.

Two of our star riders, Rashawn Young and Abby Beall, traveled to Aiken, SC to represent Heroes on Horseback and Area 8 at the competition. The event began Friday morning with our riders and support team arriving early to settle in the horses and get the lay of the land. Getting everything organized at a horse show requires many helping hands, and everyone worked nonstop to get our makeshift tack/feed room set up so we would be ready when our horses arrived at the barn. Once Sam and Maverick were comfortable in their stalls, the team went to investigate the details concerning class divisioning that was scheduled in the afternoon.  

"At Special Olympics competitions, all athletes are given an equal chance to participate, perform and be recognized for doing their best by their teammates, family, and fans. This happens through a unique process called divisioning. Athletes are grouped by age, gender and ability – giving everyone a reasonable chance to win. You can see divisioning in action in all sports, including athletics, football (soccer), table tennis, skiing, or gymnastics." - Special Olympics, divisioning fact sheet

Later, our coaches Laura and Jessica completed a warm-up ride on our horses, while Shawn and Abby prepared for their divisioning classes.  Riders were able to walk around and become comfortable with the arenas where competition would take place. Because Shawn and Abby are independent riders, they were also allowed the unique experience of being able to prepare by riding in a practice arena, where they received some last minute tips from coaches Gloria and Star. With divisioning classes successfully completed, it was time to rest and get ready for Saturday's competition. 

Competition Day dawned with extremely warm and sunny weather, but Shawn and Abby were true professionals and looked their best in their competition attire.  They made everyone proud with their outstanding performances, and both earned first place ribbons for their efforts.  An afternoon thunderstorm cut short the Closing Ceremony celebration, but the rain couldn't dampen the spirits of our champion riders.