The founder of a Chatsworth equestrian program for the disabled will serve as head coach at a special weeklong riding camp sponsored by the U.S. Olympic Committee and the U.S. Cerebral Palsy Athletic Assn.
The camp will be held at the Kellogg Arabian Center at Cal Poly Pomona starting June 25. Thirty-six physically disabled riders will train with internationally recognized judges and clinicians to improve their chances of winning major competitions at the national and international levels.
"Most disabled riders don't have access to the top-level coaching you need to compete internationally," said Gloria Hamblin, founder of Ride On, an equestrian program for the disabled in Chatsworth.
Hamblin said she hopes the camp will give riders a better chance to be on the U.S. equestrian team that will compete in the 1996 Paralympics to be held in September in Atlanta.
The camp, the first sponsored by the Olympic committee, will help riders hone their technique under the eye of discriminating equestrian experts, Hamblin said.
Those who will attend the camp come from throughout the country, including New York, Washington, Missouri and Texas. Riders from San Francisco and San Diego qualified for the camp, Hamblin said, although none of the approximately 20 disabled persons from her program made the cut.
Expenses will be covered under a $36,000 grant from the Olympic committee, said Judy Serie Nagy, the camp director.
Nagy noted that as a sport, competition-level equestrian for disabled riders has grown in the last 10 years.
"The medical establishment has discovered that riding a horse for therapy is even better, in some cases, than clinical therapy," Nagy said. "Imagine a person who's been in a wheelchair their entire life who suddenly gets up on top of a horse, and has control. There's benefit from the subtle stretch of muscles, in addition to the psychological and emotional" benefits, Nagy said.
The camp will culminate in a dressage show open to the public. For more information, call (818) 700-8412.