Sport Riding for Disabled in the Algarve

Articles and photos shared by Bev Gibbons, Pinetrees Riding Centre

It has been a busy scholastic year of preparation for 51 of the many disabled young people in the Algarve who ride horses and ponies for their recreation, therapy and sport. These youngsters come from a variety of schools or institutions and usually ride weekly at various riding schools in the Algarve: QPA Bensafrim, Pinetrees Almancil, Vilamoura Equestrian School, and Loulé Riding Club.

Preparation has been made by the trainers and schools towards participation in two regional events in May as the culmination of the year´s training. Selection was made for either the Special Olympics, for the more competent, or Jogos de Quelfes – a lighter event for school teams. These riders benefit from having goals to work towards and knowing there are medals to be won!

These riders in the Algarve are supported in their training by the Riding for Disabled Barlavento, Algarve Riding Therapy (AEDA), Estoi Rotary and Loulé Riding Club who finance the training sessions for riders from Existir, Neci, Silves Sul, AAPACDM, APPC and the Special Needs Class at Almancil school.

Both events were made possible with logistical help from Loulé Council and from sponsors Rood Construction, Mapro Real Estate, and Projection Dreams Home Cinema, and with catering for an al fresco lunch by Algarve Fine Foods and the ladies from Sta. Bárbara Smile.

However, to add to all this, it is only possible with the willingness of the horses from the various riding schools and many voluntary helpers who contributed to the two events which were held at Pinetrees Almancil. Special Olympics Portugal representative from Lisbon Pedro Serra commented on how impressed he was with the number of volunteers in the community who came together to make such events possible.

The mentally challenged riders –and some also have a physical disablement – showed  their prowess and abilities doing something that maybe you the reader are not able to do and had a fun and memorable time at the Jogos de Quelfes or Special Olympics.