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International Dressage Competitor Calls For Support of NARHA’s Horses for Heroes

Denver, CO—FEI-level rider Luis Denizard, is asking his peers, friends, acquaintances and other dressage enthusiasts to come together during 2008 to support NARHA’s Horses for Heroes, a program that helps wounded veterans through equine assisted activities and therapies (EAAT). Many of the Horses for Heroes participants have lost limbs fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Riding horses helps improve their strength and, balance. Working with the horses also helps combat the depression that many of U.S. soldiers deal with after going through these traumatic experiences. NARHA, the developer of the Horses for Heroes is a program, was formed in 1969 as the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association.

When Denizard traveled to the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in July 2007 and competed in his first international competition as Puerto Rico's sole dressage representative, he found he had an amazing following of people ready to support him in any way they could. Students, former employers, and fellow trainers rallied together to help raise the money needed to cover the high costs of his travel. Now he is asking them to join him in supporting NARHA’s Horses for Heroes program.

Denizard says, "I believe in the NARHA Horses for Heroes program because of the good that horses have in them for healing the mind and soul. That they help the soldiers improve motor skill functions is icing on the cake. These soldiers have risked their lives for our country and our morals. Many have been severely injured and will have lifelong disabilities. Any and all ways we can give back to support them is very important."

"Horses have had such a profound impact on my life, and they saved me from many of the pitfalls of growing up in an inner-city environment," says Denizard. "I firmly believe in horses' ability to change people's lives in a positive way."

When Denizard learned about NARHA Horses for Heroes, he was drawn to the cause. As a rider for Puerto Rico and a U.S. citizen, he appreciates the sacrifices that others have made to provide opportunities for his growth and success. Remaining grateful, he has tried to be alert to opportunities to give back to others.

Denizard started riding Paige Finnegan's Karola 1 in January, with aspirations of going to Beijing to compete in the Olympic Games. He knew that it would be a difficult task to deliver an Olympic-caliber performance in such a short span of time. Denizard put in his best effort, but ultimately did not meet the requirements to achieve his certificate of capability with the mare, his equine partner for just seven months. His sponsors have stood by him, realizing that success doesn't just mean winning competitions.

Because of his strong belief in giving back, Denizard is making a plea to his fellow riders, trainers, and friends—asking them to donate their time and talents to Horses for Heroes. He is donating a week of training at his facility to be auctioned off at the Northeast Regional Adult Amateur Dressage Championships in October during the Silent Auction. In addition Courtney King Dye, a 2008 World Cup Finals competitor, is donating two lessons at her facility in New York or Florida.

Northeast Regional Adult Amateur Dressage Championships will take place October 18 & 19, 2008 at Mystic Valley Hunt Club. Denizard has commitments from a number of top trainers so far, and anticipates an outpouring of support from his colleagues.

About Luis Denizard

Denizard owns and operates Delante Equestrian Center in North Smithfield, Rhode Island. He trains horses and riders in dressage and combined training and regularly competes. In addition, Denizard is a regular clinician on the East Coast and Puerto Rico and is a USDF "L" judge. Complete competitive information can be found at http://www.delantedressage.com

About NARHA Horses for Heroes

NARHA Horses for Heroes provides Equine Assisted Activities and therapies (EAAT) for returning military personnel and veterans across the United States. For individuals with special needs, EAAT have proven beneficial to the improvement of muscle tone, balance, posture, coordination, and motor development as well as emotional well being. NARHA’s Horses for Heroes was started in April 2007 and continues to work directly with the Department of Veterans Affairs. To learn more about NARHA Horses for Heroes, you can visit their web site at http://www.narha.org/NARHAHorsesforHeroes.asp

About the NRADC

The Northeast Regional Adult Amateur Dressage Championships is a brand-new show specifically for the adult amateur dressage rider. This event will be held October 18 & 19, 2008 at the Mystic Valley Hunt Club in Gales Ferry, CT. The Silent Auction will be held in conjunction with the show. For more information on NRADC, visit http://www.mysticvalleyhuntclub.com/NRADC/nradc.htm

About NARHA:

NARHA was formed in 1969 as the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association to promote equine assisted activities and therapies for individuals with special needs. At over 700 member centers, a total of 42,000 children and adults find a sense of independence through involvement with horses. These member centers range from small, one-person programs to large operations with several certified instructors and licensed therapists. In addition to therapeutic equitation, a center may offer any number of equine assisted activities including hippotherapy, equine facilitated mental health, driving, interactive vaulting, trail riding, competition, ground work, or stable management. Through a wide variety of educational resources, the association helps individuals start and maintain successful equine assisted activities and therapies for individuals with special needs. There are more than 24,000 volunteers, 2000 instructors, 5,700 therapy horses and thousands of contributors from all over the world helping people at NARHA centers.


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