Edited Press Release
Saugerties, NY – August 5, 2022 – HITS is thrilled to be hosting the second leg of the inaugural Special Olympics New York (SONY) Summer Show Series at HITS-on-the-Hudson during the New York Horse and Pony Show. SONY is proud of its robust equestrian program, which has locations across Long Island, NYC, Hudson Valley and Capital Region. This week’s division is open to qualifying adult and junior riders with a documented physical, intellectual, or developmental disability, and riders are judged on their performance during each class.
“We are so blessed to be here,” expressed Lauren Reischer, SONY’s Associate Director of Development. “It’s really amazing that these horse shows welcome us in their prize list and on their showground. The SONY riders typically ride in more backyard-style shows, so to be at a USEF-rated show, even though it’s an exhibition class, is a huge opportunity and honor for not only all of our riders but for the Special Olympics program.”
Steve Williams is the Director of Equestrian Sport for SONY and launched the Summer Show Series as a way to provide an opportunity for SONY riders to participate in mainstream equestrian competition. This series offers the riders the chance to compete in an aspirational environment while providing an educational and social component.
“Today, they were watching the grand prix on the berm, and these athletes, who’ve been riding, training, and working hard, don’t usually get to be in an environment where they’re competing on the same showgrounds,” explained Williams. “To peruse a tack shop, to have lunch together, to enjoy the travel experience – it’s fun for these athletes. It’s the ultimate inclusive experience for them.”
Williams added, “HITS was a natural connection for SONY and the inaugural Summer Series. Tom [Struzzieri]’s efforts over decades have been to really connect the lovers of the sport.”
Struzzieri has a long history with the Special Olympics, noting, “When the Special Olympics first came to New York in the 1980’s I helped them develop the riding program. It is such an amazing experience for these riders to be with the horses. When Lauren and her team approached us about hosting their new program in Saugerties it was a natural fit for us. We are so excited to have them be a part of our shows!”