Game On: Learn about the divisioning process that differentiates Special Olympics from other sport organizations.

SONC offers seven different events (also called “classes”). These classes showcase the ability of the athlete to control the horse and follow verbal instructions as well as learned patterns.

Events Offered

  • Dressage (English & Western; all levels – NEW)
  • Equitation (English & Western)
  • Western Riding (Level A only – NEW)
  • Working Trails (English & Western)
  • Showmanship at Halter/Bridle Classes (non-mounted performance class)
  • Pole Bending (English & Western; all levels – NEW)
  • Barrel Racing (English & Western; all levels – NEW)

2019 SONC Equestrian Tournament Patterns

Click here to find your coach certification status.

All initial and re-certifications for equestrian (including leaders/sidewalkers) must be done through a training school. Please contact Brad Glazer on our Equestrian Sport Development Team if you have questions about certification. Equestrian certification along with a few other certifications must be updated every three years; you can check the status of theses certifications here.

Always communicate with your local coordinator if you are interested in submitting registration for an event.

Equestrian Tournament/Invitational Registration Forms

Local program coordinators should submit entries along with the remainder of the Equestrian Tournament registration.  Click here for a full list of Equestrian Tournament registration forms. These forms will be available closer to the event date.

The annual SONC Equestrian Tournament will be held September 27-29, 2019 in Raleigh at the James B. Hunt Horse Complex.


Athletes and partners also have the opportunity and are encouraged to participate in various local invitationals. Check the equestrian sport calendar for upcoming invitationals being hosted by local programs.

Local programs are also encouraged to host and invite neighboring counties to participate in invitationals, scrimmages, or leagues.  Click here for some basic steps on how to get started.  If you are interested in hosting an invitational you can also contact the sports department at

About Equestrian: Equestrian is one of the most complicated, yet best-organized sports that Special Olympics North Carolina offers. Athletes compete in a stand-alone Equestrian Tournament. The balance, the stability and the right communication between the horse and the rider is a key element for success in Equestrian.  

Differences of Special Olympics Equestrian:  Special Olympics Equestrian encompasses several disciplines. Riders may choose either English or Western tack and enter the appropriate classes. Currently, Dressage is the only Special Olympics event that parallels FEI. Other events have been chosen to offer a wide range of activities that athletes can participate in successfully. Equitation is judged on the rider’s position and ability to influence the horse and is the basis for determining divisions.  

History: 1990 marked the establishment of the SONC Equestrian Development Team.  

By the Numbers:  

  • In 1993, only thirteen local programs offered Equestrian as a sport, but now there are fifty-eight programs serving over five hundred athletes. 
  • Equestrian athletes participate in twelve unique events that showcase control and speed.  
  • The Special Olympics North Carolina Equestrian Championship (now Tournament) has been held the James B. Hunt Horse Complex since the inception in 1989. 

Sport Development Teams (SDT) are responsible for assisting with local and state-level programs and competition, educating coaches and officials, and promoting active engagement among athletes throughout the year.  Click here for more information.

Perry Flynn – SDT Director

Hellen Bee 

Denise Bricker 

Brad Glazer

Laura Luster
Spring Lake

Certified Clinicians receive additional training in presentational skills to conduct training schools in their community.  In order to become a Certified Clinician one must have a Special Olympics North Carolina level 2 sport certification in this sport.

For more information on becoming an SDT member or a Certified Clinician, contact

Find out if this sport is offered in your community

Become an Athlete or Unified Partner

Special Olympics North Carolina offers sports training and competition in 19 Olympic-type sports to children and adults with intellectual disabilities.  Learn more on how to become an athlete.

Become a Unified partner and play on a team alongside athletes with intellectual disabilities.

Become a Coach

Combine knowledge and passion for a sport by becoming a Special Olympics North Carolina coach to lead athletes in preparing for local and state-level competition.

Become a Volunteer

Serve a crucial role at Special Olympics North Carolina by volunteering at our office or one of our many events throughout the year. Check out our home page for these volunteer opportunities.

Share Your Sport Knowledge

Officiate for Special Olympics North Carolina by donating your time as a sports official.  Contact for more information.

Sport Development Team members (SDT) are active volunteers who channel their passion and knowledge for a sport into effective leadership for local and state programs.  

Certified clinicians supplement the SDT by providing coaches training in their community.  Click here for trainers.

For more information on getting involved, contact