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Owen Sound & District_SO_Shield Red

"The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community." - Special Olympics International


Special Olympics Equestrian At Hope Haven

In the Spring of 2020 Ontario's first Special Olympics (SO) Equestrian team was approved, Hope Haven Pegasus!

We are excited to be laying the groundwork for other equestrian centres across Ontario and even Canada to apply for their own teams, creating a national pool of competitors. Thank you to Special Olympics Ontario for supporting our endeavour and the Owen Sound and District community for welcoming our sport within their organization.

Competition Disciplines



Evaluation on how well the rider has learned:

1) parts of the horse

2) parts of their tack

3) performance on one practical test.

All 3 areas are marked and summed for a total score.

There are 3 levels of testing; Beginner, Intermediate ,and Advanced. Only those that score 100% receive their certificates and may move on to challenge the next level.

Athletes will be provided with 2 options for communicating results depending on their abilities:

Option A: the athlete touches a part of the horse/tack when asked by the judge.

Option B: the athlete names a part of the horse/tack indicated by the judge. (athletes who are non-verbal do not need to complete option B before moving onto next level)

Visit our Learning Resources page to print off labelled diagrams of tack and horse parts to continue your learning at home!


The athlete's ability to handle and show the horse from the ground, with safety as the main consideration. The athlete will be asked by the judge to complete some or all of these elements, making sure to be in the correct position with respect to their horse:

  • walk or trot on lead
  • halt
  • pivot or turn (quarter, half or full)
  • backing in a straight or curved line
  • squaring up or setting up for inspection

During inspection the athlete must position themselves according to where the judge is standing using the quarter method. The appearance of the horse and tack as well as the rider are judged (eg. gromming of horse, tack cleaning, athlete's attire is presentable). Maximum score is 100 points: appearance of horse and athlete = 20, showing the horse in the ring = 60, poise, alertness and merits = 20.

Freestyle Horsemanship

The athlete's ability to handle/lead the horse from the ground performing 6-8 required elements or obstacles in whatever pattern the athlete chooses. May have music and costume as an added artistic element. Examples of elements include:

  • pole line - 3 minimum
  • serpentines - 4 turn minimum
  • 10 metre circle on each rein
  • passing through a rope gait
  • backing
  • turn or pivot
  • trot
  • halt
  • bridge

Maximum score is 100 points: completion of elements = 60, creativity and fluidity of pattern = 20, presentation of athlete and horse team = 20.


The rider is judged on their position, balance, use of their natural aids, and their ability to control their horse through some or all of the following:

  • Different gaits that are within their skill level (walk, trot, canter)
  • Transitions between gaits
    • C level - free walk/working walk
    • B level - walk/trot/walk
    • A level - trot/canter/trot or walk/canter/trot
  • Halt (4-6 seconds)from walk, trot or canter
  • Small circle (10m) at walk or trot
  • Large circle (20m) at trot or canter
  • Figure 8 at walk or trot (circles between 6-15m)
  • Diagonal lines at walk or trot
  • Reverse direction with a 6m half circle at walk or trot
  • Serpentine at posting trot (with change of diagonals for A level)
  • Change leads at canter, simple or interrupted
  • Figure 8's at the canter, simple change of lead (circles between 15-20m)

Riders will be expected to ride in both directions around the ring performing these requirements when indicated by the judge. Each component or movement will be marked out of 10 and then added together for a total score.

Equitation Jumping

The rider is judged on accuracy of course, correct approach and position over fence.

This discipline is offered for independent division levels:

  • CI - walk course of 4-8 ground poles, max height 15cm
  • BI - trot course of 6-8 fences, max height 30cm
  • A - canter course of 6-8 fences, max height 60cm

Arena set-up 60x30m, fenced in, neutral colour fences that can be decorated. Course to include outside lines, diagonal with change of direction

This video is an example of a CI level rider completing her class.


The art of communication between the horse and rider who performs a series of predetermined movements and patterns. The letters that surround the dressage ring map out the patterns and movements to be ridden. All gaits within the athlete's competing level will be required within the test.

All Special Olympics dressage tests may be called/read. As the dressage test is being performed, the judge will mark each required movement on a scale of 0-5 as well as collective marks awarded after the test has been completed.

Freestyle Dressage classes may also be offered in competition.

This video is an example of a Level BI/BS dressage test.


Gymkhana classes are times events such as Barrel Racing, Pole Bending, Figure 8s or Team Relays. Time penalties are given for errors in course.

These videos are examples of a CI level rider completing a Barrel Racing course and then a Pole Bending course.

Working Trail

A set course of obstacles that the rider and horse must work their way over and through with precision. The course will also involve all gaits of the horse that the rider is proficient in. Examples of obstacles include:

  • logs or poles to walk over
  • serpentines around objects
  • mailbox to retrieve objects
  • gates to open
  • brush to duck under
  • bridge platform to ride over

Riders are judged on each obstacle/element out of a score of 10.


545747 Sideroad 4A, RR #2
Markdale, ON N0C 1H0

(t) 519-986-1247


Located on Sideroad 4a between
7th Line and 9th Line.

View Map

Benoit Dube - Executive Director

Kim Reain - Development Officer

Robyn Allen - Program Manager & Physiotherapist

Michelle Lemire - Volunteer Coordinator

Emma Houser - Program Administrator & Instructor (PATH Int. CTRI, EC Instructor of Beginners)

Danielle Rose - Equine Manager & Instructor (PATH Int. CTRI, EC Competition Coach)

Gillian MacNeill - Instructor (CanTRA CTRII, PATH Int. CTRI)

Shannon Speer - Recreational Therapist & Equine Assisted Personal Development Coach

Gretel Stanish - Instructor (Path Int. CTRI, EAPDC)