Para jumping will be among the demonstrations at this year’s Kentucky Three-Day Event in Lexington, in what will be the first public demonstration of the sport in North America.
Event organiser Equestrian Events Inc. (EEI) is organising para jumping and para dressage demonstrations with blind jumping rider Wren Blae Zimmerman and four-time Paralympic dressage rider Rebecca Hart.
Each demonstration will feature two or three riders and will be held on the Friday and Saturday of the event in both the Walnut Arena and Rolex Stadium. Both will also be featured as part of Sunday’s Opening Ceremonies.
Para dressage is the only equestrian sport in the Paralympic Games, but Zimmerman is working to change that.
Zimmerman competes in USEF-recognised competitions, and she is aiming to get Jumping added to the Paralympic program. She has campaigned for the past seven years for the sport of Para Show Jumping to become an officially recognized discipline in the US and Canada.
She said she appreciated the opportunity to introduce Para Jumping to the United States at such a prestigious and well-attended event. Annually, it attracts more than 80,000 spectators.
“I hope to contribute to the growth and accessibility of horse sport by empowering change within the equestrian community,” Zimmerman said.
“The short-term goal is for Para Jumping to become an officially recognized discipline which will ultimately help establish greatly needed resources, pathways, and competition opportunities for riders with disabilities to participate in the jumping disciplines.
“This is a huge milestone in our sport, as it is contributing to the growth and accessibility of horse sport by making it more accessible to people with disabilities. Getting to this point has been years in the making, but demonstration classes are one of the final steps the governing bodies want to see before deciding to move forward with regulating the discipline, and thus play a pivotal role in the overall process,” Zimmerman said.
“Ultimately, this will help establish greatly needed resources, pathways, and competition opportunities for riders with disabilities to participate in the jumping disciplines.”
The Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Mars Equestrian is one of only seven annual five-star three-day events in the world. It is scheduled for April 28 to May 1, 2022 at the Kentucky Horse Park. The event also hosts the $225,000 Kentucky three-star showjumping Invitational Grand Prix presented by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute.
EEI board president Mike Cooper said the event was excited to host demonstrations in both para disciplines. “What Rebecca Hart and Wren Blae Zimmerman do as riders is incredibly impressive and an inspiration to anyone faced with physical or other challenges.”
Hart, as a Paralympic veteran, will also appear as part of “Champions Live!” a discussion panel held annually at LRK3DE that features US equestrian champions from each Olympic/Paralympic discipline.