Loxahatchee, FL (April 30, 2012) – When Bruce Ekstrom of Tuigpaarden Farm received the call from Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center asking him to judge the Special Olympics, the accomplished horseman wasted no time in reorganizing his schedule and changing his flights so that he could adjudicate the event. The decorated trainer has racked up wins across the country and can normally be found at one of his two training centers either in Shelbyville, Kentucky or Ocala, Florida, but Ekstrom admits there is no place he’d rather be than supporting therapeutic riding centers like Vinceremos. The opportunity to act as a judge for the Special Olympics was not something he was willing to let pass by.
The Special Olympics took place in the Vinceremos covered arena on Sunday, April 1st, and included riders ranging in all age groups and backgrounds. “I had a phenomenal time as the judge for the Special Olympics,” said Ekstrom. “These programs are so important to our community and to the people who participate in them. The value of equestrian therapy in settings such as Vinceremos is immeasurable, and I am always ready to lend support and promote these events, be it any chance I get! The facility is beautiful, the staff is amazing with their knowledge, and then add to this the kind, wonderful horses. I believe it to be a very positive situation for all involved.”
Vinceremos caters to the needs of individuals with varying emotional and physical disabilities, including at risk teens. Founded in 1981, their goal is to instruct and nurture each rider to his or her highest potential, which may include riding independently and participating in various regional riding competitions throughout the year, including the Special Olympics. More than 20 riders from Vinceremos are going to Tampa in May to compete in the State Games, the largest contingent to attend. Vinceremos recently constructed a 45,500 square foot covered arena to protect riders, volunteers and staff from the brilliant south Florida sun. The covered arena was the final result of generous donations and support from the equestrian community, which has been crucial to Vinceremos’s success.
“People like Ekstrom who donate their time and funds to support events like the Special Olympics are invaluable to facilities like Vinceremos. We rely on the generosity of our community, and people who are willing to go out of their way to support these events are akin to superheroes,” said Ruth Menor, Executive Director of Vinceremos. “In fact, we gave Mr. Ekstrom a superhero medal to show our gratitude that he was willing to donate his time to be a judge for our event.”
In addition to acting as a superhero, Ekstrom competes with his horses across the country. As a long-time supporter of harness ponies and horses, Ekstrom believes driving is one of the best-kept secrets in the equine world. Ekstrom believes another great secret is the Hackney Horse. “That isn’t something I want to keep a secret, though,” he said. “I want more people to know about the Hackney Horse, a recognized endangered species, as it is a magnificent, majestic athletic breed.”
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Bruce K. Ekstrom