Photo courtesy of Sierra Ellis.
Zachary Mogavero won silver in equitation and gold in trail competitions at the Regional Special Olympics equestrian event.
Rainbow Ridge scores big at Special Olympics
Thirty-six riders from Wayne, Ontario, Monroe, Livingston and Wyoming Counties took part in the Genesee Regional Special Olympics equestrian event at Lehman Farms in Mendon Ponds Park. Twenty of those riders were from Rainbow Ridge Therapeutic Inc., Livingston County’s only therapeutic riding program.
Originally, 32 RRT program participants were interested in competing; however, scheduling conflict and cuts in Special Olympics funding mandated tough choices for athletes and coaches alike.
Riders compete in equitation and trail classes based on their abilities. This year’s trail class had a Knights of the Round Table theme. As in the past several years, the courses was created by the RRT crew of rider and volunteers with great imagination and colorful challenges.
Medals garnered by RRT riders (Eq = equitation; Tr = trail):
- Supported Child: Zachary Mogavero, Eq silver/Tr gold; Sky Amish, Eq bronze/Tr silver; JD Amish, Eq gold/Tr bronze.
- Independent Adolescent: Amanda Lombardo, Eq silver/Tr gold; Suzi Lombardo, Eq gold/Tr silver.
- Independent Adult: Michael Cuttitta, Eq bronze/Tr gold; L. Newton, Eq silver/Tr silver; Justin Newburn, Eq gold/Tr bronze.
- Supported Adult Div. A: Joe Jackson, Eq gold/Tr silver; P Todd, Tr bronze; T. Cafferty, Eq bronze/Tr gold; Scott Rymer, Eq silver.
- Supported Adult Div. B: C. Howden, Eq silver/Tr bronze; Justine DeLuca, Eq gold/Tr gold; T. Edwards, Eq bronze/Tr silver.
- Supported Adult Div. C: Gary Hayes, Eq gold/Tr silver; D. Johantgen, Eq silver/Tr gold.
RRT founder and program director Julie Burnett had what she reports was an enlightening weekend in Temple, N.H., at Touchstone Farm where she attended a workshop and obtained her certification as an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning from PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) International. The four-day workshop had an eclectic group of 20 participants: young and old, college professors, an artist, a retired U.S. Army major, a pastor, experienced horse people, and those whose experience lies more in the realm of working with learning, emotional, and physical disabilities.
“It was exactly what I needed,” Burnett said. “The leaders, Suzanne Haseman from Connecticut and Mandy Hogan from Windrush Farm in Massachusetts, were kind, gracious, and provided much encouraging feedback.”
With this additional certification she plans to expand RRT offerings to include a Horses for Heroes program for military veterans, along with other enhancements to the opportunities available for both riders and volunteers. Burnett was able to attend the workshop thanks to a grant from the Western Chapter of the New York State Horse Council. She also is deeply appreciative of all who oversaw the well-being of the horses in her absence.
“It was such a comfort knowing they would be well cared for so I didn’t have to worry while I was gone,” she said.
RRT activities include 4-H, competition (Special Olympic, Paralympics), equine facilitated experiential learning, equine facilitated psychotherapy, grooming and tacking, ground work, recreational riding, and therapeutic riding.
The program serves people with conditions or disabilities such as ADD or other hyperactivity disorder, at-risk youth, autism, cerebral palsy, developmental delay or disability, Down syndrome, emotional, behavioral, or mental health, hearing impairment, learning disability, mental retardation, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, speech impairment, visual impairment, and weight control disorders.
For more information contact Burnett at 245-8125 or email@example.com and visit the PATH website www.pathintl.org.
Here Come the Races!
Oct. 12: This year marks the 85th running of the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup steeplechase. The Hunt Cup is a 3-mile race over solid timber fences — the only place in New York where spectators can see steeplechase timber races with world-class horses. The $25,000 purse assures that several of the finest trainers, jockeys and horses in the sport will be on hand.
Another sanctioned steeplechase race with a $10,000 purse is offered for maiden steeplechase runners, as well as a number of amateur races ranging from kids on ponies to the Heavy Horse (draft horse) race. All races are run over a beautiful, natural turf course.
Activities run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine. Parking is free. For a complete schedule, look on the Genesee Valley Hunt Races Facebook page.