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"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


**All SO programming on hold until at least July 31st, 2020 due to COVID-19**


Special Olympics Equestrian At Hope Haven

Starting in the Spring of 2020 our first Special Olympics (SO) Equestrian team, Hope Haven Pegasus, will be starting their training and competition season. 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.

Who can participate on the team?

All individuals ages 6 years and up with intellectual disabilities are welcome to join Hope Haven Pegasus. There are opportunities for both mounted riders and unmounted horsemanship participants to both train and compete (180 lbs is our weight limit for mounted).

Eligibility Criteria for SO:

  • Typically an IQ score of approximately 70 or below
  • Deficits in general mental abilities which limit and restrict participation and performance in one or more aspects of daily life such as communication, social participation, functioning at school or work, or personal independence, and;
  • Onset during the developmental period (before the age of 18 years).

Want to participate as an assistant coach/volunteer? Contact our Volunteer Coordinator for more information (

What is the season format?

Our full SO season runs from April through October with an option to participate in the spring only season from April through June. If you missed the start date, don't worry you can join at any time thoughout the season! And yes, if you need to miss some training dates due to vacations that's just fine. Here's what's involved in the SO Equestrian season:

Weekly Lesson - Once per week individuals will be scheduled into a private or group lesson depending on ability, skill and competition goals.

Full Team Training - One Saturday per month there will be a 2 hour group session involving horsemanship skills such as health, nutrition, communication, barn etiquette, fitness and other fun group activities. Here are the scheduled dates:

  • April 4th
  • May 2nd
  • June 6th
  • July 18th
  • August 15th
  • September 19th
  • October 17th

Spring Competition Day - Sunday June 21st

Fall Competition Day - Sunday October 25th

Why should I join Special Olympics Equestrian?

Special Olympics is a very special community that fosters inclusivity and health promotion for all abilities. It's an organization that is governed from an international level therefore any sport being offered under their umbrella has to follow very high standards and expectations for their coaches, training programs, facilities and competitions. They also provide health screenings such as dental, vision, feet, and hearing which are areas that research has proven to be overlooked for individuals with intellectual disabilities and can lead to secondary health problems.

Being part of a team encourages socialization, commitment, independence, and grows self confidence. Our Saturday full team sessions will be a chance to expand your knowledge of horse care, general fitness for riding as well as creating life-long friendships. In your weekly lessons and seasonal competitions, you will be able to learn a variety of equestrian disciplines and then be able to show them off to your families, friends and other teammates!

What is the cost?

To provide program accessibility for those with intellectual disabilities who wish to participate, the Special Olympics weekly lesson fee is $45.00 which is the same as our regular Adaptive Riding lesson. There is no cost to our Saturday sessions or competitions as Hope Haven will be seeking donors to offset the extra costs in order to make this an accessible program.

(Note: The actual cost of each lesson is $150 for coaching and training services. Hope Haven regularly seeks donors to offset the remaining $105).

If you require assistance with funding, click here to view some possible community sponsorship options on our Applications & Forms page.

How do I register?

Step 1 - Click here to register to become an athlete with Special Olympics Ontario.

Step 2 - We will also need for you to complete our Hope Haven Application form which will go directly into your file at Hope Haven.  Click here to bring you to our applications page and scroll down to find "Online Participant Application".

For more information, please call 519-986-1247 and ask for Robyn, or email