April 28, 2006 — The 2010 FEI Games in Kentucky will make international equine history. For the first time ever, para-equestrian events will be part of the FEI Games.
“This is a new chapter for the FEI Games. Not only will the games be held off the European continent, but all eight disciplines will take place in one venue,” said Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher. “Our commitment to the games and to the magnificent facilities at the Kentucky Horse Park will help the para-equestrian portion of the event achieve this historic milestone.”
The mission of para-equestrian sport, as defined by the International Paralympic Equestrian Committee (IPEC), is to foster the growth and excellence of international equestrian sport for athletes with a disability, by developing equestrian sport for people with disabilities and competition opportunities for riders and drivers with disabilities.
“Governor Fletcher made it very clear that he wanted the 2010 Games in Kentucky to be the best ever and to achieve things that have never happened before in this competition,” said Rob Hinkle, Chief Administrative Officer for the World Games 2010 Foundation, the group planning the 2010 FEI Games in Kentucky. “Just as these para-equestrian athletes focus on what they can achieve, Kentucky is also focusing on how to successfully incorporate the para-equestrian events into the 2010 FEI Games in Kentucky.”
Kentucky is a recognized leader in the international equine world. The commonwealth is home to the Kentucky Derby, the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, the United States Equestrian Federation and a national training center for U.S. para-equestrian athletes. The United States Driving for the Disabled, Inc., is headquartered in Kentucky.
“Our athletes with disabilities have unfortunately not received the attention and respect they deserve,” said Debbie Banfield, President of the United States Driving for the Disabled, Inc. “By holding the para-equestrian events in conjunction with the other FEI Game disciplines, it gives those special equestrians the equal opportunity to share the same excitement of the entire FEI competition along with all other equestrian athletes.”
Para-equestrians compete worldwide in a variety of equine disciplines, however, at the FEI Games, dressage and driving are the selected disciplines. In 1987, the first dressage World Championship was held in Sweden and in the Paralympic Games in 1996. Para-equestrian driving is a World Championship Sport. In 1991, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) appointed IPEC to run competitions and develop equestrian sport all over the world. In 2005, 38 nations from five continents competed. IPEC has now joined the FEI as para-equestrian (FEI PE), their 8th discipline.
According to the IPEC, “Riders are graded on their impairment and judged on their equestrian ability or skill. Athletes with more severe disabilities (Grade Ia) ride tests in walk only; the least disabled (Grade IV) ride tests of medium (M) standard. When necessary, riders can use compensating aids approved by FEI PE, such as a special saddle, adapted reins, elastic bands or two whips.”