Co-organised by the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) of Singapore and the Singapore Disability Sports Council, the equestrian competition of the 10th National Disability League (NDL) came to a successful close and saw the participation of 24 young para-athletes across a total of six events.
Of the 24, eight riders were competing for their very first time.
Horse-riding provides an avenue of interaction for persons with physical and cognitive disabilities and it serves as a form for physical and cognitive therapy.
A competitor takes part in the equestrian competition. Photo: Sport Singapore
“It’s a really unique therapy and it’s all about helping riders with disabilities, including social interaction and concentration problems,” said Cindy Quek, honorary secretary of the RDA.
“Horses are big and live animals and riders have genuine interaction with them and riders on a horse have a freedom of movement, which they may not have with their disabilities.
Horses are big and live animals and riders have genuine interaction with them and riders on a horse get to enjoy a freedom of movement. Photo: Sport Singapore
“The relationship with the horse makes it easier for these riders to concentrate and focus and this ties in to other areas of their lives.”
Citing positive remarks from participants and their parents, the 35-year-old added: “Some parents have come back and confirmed the improvement in their children’s behaviour and also the ability to listen to instructions.”
Six-year-old Royce Ng, a cerebral palsy patient, was one of those competing today and he has been riding since the tender age of three.
When asked of his thoughts of riding, he exclaimed: “I love horses!”
“He has gained more confidence through all these activities with the horses and we’ll definitely continue sending him through the programme,” said his mother, Soh Lay Hong.
“After all, we’re parents and we want the best for our children. We’ll get him anything that will benefit him.”
Gracing the event was former national para-athlete and Chef de Mission of the upcoming ASEAN Para Games, Raja Singh, and national para-equestrian Maximillian Tan.
Tan, who was an alumnus and beneficiary of the RDA programme., was all praises for the level of competition.
He said, “It feels like homecoming for me and to be able to watch all these young ones compete was really really good.”
Tan ended with a piece of advice for the younger athletes.
“Always have fun in what you do, be it training or competing. That’s the most important thing.”
Held from June 27 till October 10, this year’s edition of the NDL features 17 sports, giving para-athletes an additional platform to garner experience and showcase their talents.
“It has been a fantastic experience going around and watching some sports for the first time and I’m very impressed with the event,” said Singh.
“Just before I came here, I was actually wondering how the crowd would be like and I’m actually heartened by the turnout and the supporters for the athletes today.
“I hope that some of the better athletes will move on and compete at an international level and hopefully, we will have competitions like these at the Asian or regional level as well.”