Top showjumpers offer lessons to help injured riders

Ian Millar at the Barcelona 1992 Games on Big Ben, whom he also rode at the 1988 and 1984 Olympics.
Ian Millar at the Barcelona 1992 Games on Big Ben, whom he also rode at the 1988 and 1984 Olympics. © IOC

Lessons from some of the world’s leading showjumping riders are on offer in an online auction to benefit the Kevin Babington Foundation.

The foundation is a licensed 501c3 charity, and donations will be used to help rehabilitate equestrians with spinal injuries.

Babington was left paralysed from the chest down after a devastating fall in 2019. He and Alexis Halbert have been the foundation’s first beneficiaries; donations have been instrumental in their rehabilitation from traumatic spinal cord injuries.

In what the foundation describes as a “once in a lifetime opportunity”, bids are open for lessons with Ian Millar, Beezie Madden, Paul O’Shea, Kent Farrington, McLain Ward, Shane Sweetnam, and others.  The lessons are on the rider’s own horse, and in Wellington, Florida.

Bidding for the private lessons ends at midnight on February 22, 2022.

A lesson with Kevin Babington is also on offer. He was back coaching five months after his accident, using a headset link earbuds worn by his students.

Kevin Babington at La Baule.
Kevin Babington. © FEI / Frederic Chehu,
Also on February 22, Victoria McCulloch is hosting a benefit for the foundation at Mida Farm, with a 1.45m grand prix, rides on a Clydesdale hitch, and a silent auction with many items including a guitar signed by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

Babington, who is a selector for the Irish showjumping team, is making progress in his recovery.

“My right arm continues to get stronger and I feel quite comfortable driving my wheelchair by myself now, using a hand control. In addition to having some movement in my toes, I’m starting to get a lot of new sensations in my legs and hips,” he said.

He is preparing to take part in a clinical trial involving stem cells at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Last year, a man paralyzed from the neck down in a surfing accident walked again after the treatment.

» Contact for more on the Mida Farm event.

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