In the words of Van Halen, “We might as well Jump” like the famous and world-renowned showjumpers Cian O’Connor and Denis Lynch, I too love to jump. I enjoy the adrenaline rush that you feel when you glide poetically over an oxer while also balancing the precision of a surgeon and the speed of a Formula 1 driver.

Yet as an equestrian with a disability, if I dreamt of competing for my country in the Paralympics in my chosen discipline of show jumping, I can’t. For the straightforward fact that showjumping isn’t a discipline within the Paralympics, which is famous for its inclusiveness and promoting PWD rights. So, why isn’t it a discipline in the Paralympics alongside dressage and driving both challenging disciplines in their own right?

As much as I love jumping, sadly, I am not of Paralympic standard. No, the point of this article is not to advocate for myself but for the younger generation of equestrians with disabilities, who may have the talent equal to Cian O’Connor and Denis Lynch or even exceed theirs. What about them? Indeed, do they have a right to proudly represent their country in international competitions like the Paralympics?

Is it because of insurance reasons, as jumping fences may increase the chances of a rider with a disability falling off? Is it because it’s deemed too dangerous for riders with disabilities? Is it a form of ableism on behalf of the Paralympics Organisers that assume riders with disabilities can’t jump?

In my humble opinion and in fairness to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), I think that is a mixture of these questions and not these questions.  

For an event to be an Olympic event and, by virtue, a Paralympic event, it must be recognised, of worldwide reach, and popular. As it’s not an FEI-recognised sport, many countries like Ireland and America do not have national para showjumping events that could produce competitors for the Paralympics. Therefore, the IPC can’t recognise it.  

So here is where the questions mentioned above should be addressed. Why doesn’t Ireland have a Para-Show jumping League like our closest neighbour, the UK, a neighbour with whom we share a rich and long equestrian culture? Where British Showjumping runs a National Para Showjumping League in conjunction with Riders for the Disabled Association. The main reason the UK has one and Ireland doesn’t is, in my opinion, not down to Ireland’s high insurance and risk-averse attitude. As a person who has worked in the disability sector. Ireland has been a world leader in disability law and policy for decades. In contrast, the UK concentrated on the everyday inclusiveness of PWD, which has included sport, and that is why they have a national league, and we don’t. Yet we must change this for future generations of equestrians with disabilities and enable them to Jump!



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