Equestrian Canada (EC) hosted a successful Para-Equestrian Classifiers Seminar at WindReach Farm in Ashburn, ON from April 22-23, 2017.
The purpose of the seminar was to provide information and education around the vital role of Para-Equestrian National Classifiers. The Seminar was led by course conductor and EC Para-Equestrian Committee member, Sue Foell, an EC National and International Level 1 FEI Classifier.
“I was very impressed to see a large turnout at our Classifiers Seminar,” said Foell, who provided training for six classifier candidates and educated many auditors during the seminar. “We had several doctors and physiotherapists in attendance who are interested in become EC Para-Equestrian Classifiers. This will ensure accessibility to, and sustainability of, classification in Canada, and continued support for our para-equestrian athletes.”
EC National Classifiers play an integral role in an athlete’s journey from grassroots to the international level. By providing athletes with an initial classification assessment, Classifiers are essential to supporting athletes and coaches, and identifying the compensating (adaptive) aids that are best suited to a specific athlete. Obtaining status as a Para-Equestrian Classifier provides the opportunity to give back to the community, enhance the life of a person with a physical impairment, and grow professionally and personally. Plus, Classifiers have the opportunity to progress to the level of International Classifiers, who are invited to competitions all around the world, including the Paralympic Games and FEI World Equestrian Games.
“Classification is the next step for our para-equestrian athletes as they progress into national and international competitions,” explained Foell. “It is very important to have accredited Classifiers in Canada to support our athletes on their competitive journey.”
EC National Classifier and Para-Equestrian Classifiers Advisory Group Chair, Marion Slatter-Blitstein of Langley, BC, added, “We need more classifiers; We currently only have two in British Columbia, one in Toronto and one in Nova Scotia. We also need classifiers in the prairies to cover all areas, as it very expensive for classifiers to travel to all of the different locations that require classifiers. The more people we can get to become classifiers, the more we can cover this big country.”
The seminar provided candidates and attendees with extensive training on the classification system, the role of the classifier, the classification process, and much more. In addition, candidates had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with classification. Three para-equestrian athletes – Jason Surnoski of Whitby, ON, Sarah McConaghy of Bowmanville, ON, Melanie Rodgers of Etobicoke, ON and Amanda Power of Ajax, ON generously attended the Seminar, allowing candidates to conduct practice classifications.
“As a physiotherapist, coach and rider, I’ve always been looking for a way to combine my interest for sports physio and horses,” said Mireille Bilodeau of Gatineau, QC, a candidate who participated in the Classifier Seminar. “I love working with athletes, both in the clinic and in the saddle. I’ve been interested in getting involved with para-equestrian for years, and the seminar was a perfect introduction. I plan on completing the certification process within the next few months to become a classifier, and I’m eager to start working with para-equestrian athletes.”
EC would like to thank course conductor, Sue Foell, and her fellow EC Para-Equestrian Committee members, Kendra Flynn-Stronach and Marion Slatter-Blitstein for their hard work to make the EC Para-Equestrian Classifiers Seminar possible. EC also thanks para-equestrian athletes, Jason Surnoski, Sarah McConaghy, Melanie Rodgers and Amanda Power for their time and participation, as well as WindReach Farm for hosting the Seminar at their beautiful facility.