Horseability at the Hampton Classic 2009 Part 2





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Published on Aug 25, 2009

Horseability Riders Sweep Championships at Long Island Horse Show Series for Riders With Disability
Bridgehampton, NY—August 24, 2009—Students from Horseability, a therapeutic riding center on Long Island, claimed the championships in all three divisions in the 4th Annual Long Island Horse Show Series for Riders With Disabilities Finals at the Hampton Classic Horse Show. Coryn Villanti captured the Equitation With Aides division, Todd Pritscher took Independent Equitation, and Tara Smilowitz won Advanced Independent. The 34th Hampton Classic Horse Show, one of the nations premier show jumping competitions, continues through Sunday, August 30. The Classic hosts hunter/jumper competition for riders ranging from the youngest competitors in Leadline and Short Stirrup classes all the way up to Olympic veterans in the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix. Entered in the show are all four members of the United States 2004 Gold Medal Olympic team—Beezie Madden, McLain Ward, Peter Wylde and Chris Kappler.

In welcoming comments, Sally Ike, Managing Director of Show Jumping for the United States Equestrian Federation, presented ribbons to all riders who qualified for this years Long Island Horse Show Series for Riders With Disabilities Finals. She told the competitors: I congratulate you all. You earned the right to be here.

Ike later commented: The time I have spent with disabled athletes makes me feel like I am the disabled person, not them. They let nothing stand in their way. Todays competition is an extraordinary thing and so inspirational. These riders are all champions.

Villanti (riding Diamond), Pritscher (Blue) and Smilowitz (Daisy) proved they were champions, as did the rest of the field. Villanti, a special education teacher from Medford, was bursting with excitement. We had some HorseAbility pride going on today, she said. Ive been riding and showing four years, and Ive never placed like this. Im so excited for all of us!

Pritscher, who is from Yaphank, has been riding eight years. He said his favorite thing to do is canter Blue, a horse he described as smooth to ride and easy to handle. What does he think of competing at the Hampton Classic, which he has done for four years? I like being on a horse. Its fun here!

Reserve champions included Selena Sibai on Dream Weaver (Advanced Independent Equitation) and Lauren Reischer on Debutante (Independent Equitation). There was a tie for reserve in the With Aides division between Kevin Attenburg of Melville on Dream Weaver and Victoria Natale of Bayville on Juliette.

Bridgehampton National Bank sponsored the championships and Kevin OConnor, President and CEO, presented the awards.As he observed the classes, he said, We support this event because Bridgehampton National Bank has a history of community involvement. For me personally, to be able to see the reactions on the winners faces makes it a wonderful day.

The championships were the culmination of HorseAbilitys eight-show series that took place at various horse shows on Long Island from last fall through this summer. Twenty-five riders competed in the series in hopes of qualifying for the Finals, but only the top competitors in each division qualified to ride at the Hampton Classic Finals. Riders competed in classes including walk, walk/trot, walk/trot/figure 8, and walk/trot/canter. Rankings are awarded based on points according to U.S. Equestrian Federation rules for equitation classes.

Tina Rocco of Melville, Managing Director of the Long Island Horse Show Series for Riders With Disabilities, has volunteered at HorseAbility since she was 10 years old, at one time functioning as director of its lesson program. Observing the championships at the Hampton Classic, she noted how remarkable it is that the riders in the disability classes get to compete next to the top riders in the world in an adjacent arena. The Hampton Classic is the most exciting show of the season, and I love that the riders in our series get to experience the same excitement.

HorseAbility is a Long Island-based program offering therapeutic riding lessons and other programs for riders of all ages and disabilities. It was founded in 1993 by Kathleen (Katie) Kilcommons McGowan when she lent her horse to a friend and physical therapist who used therapeutic riding as a method of treatment for a child with cerebral palsy. When McGowan saw the childs physical and emotional connection with the animal and subsequent acceleration in his treatment, she knew she had found her calling. Combining her education, love of children and longstanding relationship with horses, she founded HorseAbility. More information on HorseAbility can be found at: www.horseability.org or by calling (631) 367-1646.

(c) WVVH-TV 2009 all rights reserved


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