Parelli Natural Horsemanship Student and Canadian Para-Equestrian Lauren Barwick Judges Special Olympics

Lauren Barwick judged the Special Olympics Equestrian Games in Tampa, Florida, recently and said the event “put a smile on her face.” (Photo courtesy of Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center)

Tampa, FL (May 27, 2011) – Canadian Para-Equestrian Team member Lauren Barwick, a paraplegic who won Gold and Silver Medals in the Beijing Paralympics in 2008, recently spent the weekend in Tampa, Florida, serving as a judge for the Special Olympics Equestrian Games. Barwick, a Four Star Parelli Instructor and a Senior Protégé in the Mastery program at Linda and Pat Parelli’s Natural Horsemanship Program, said the weekend was not only inspiring for her but “put a big smile on my face.”

Barwick, who broke her back in an accident and is paralyzed from the waist down, said she was impressed with the talent and skills of the riders. “As a Parelli student and Instructor I was pleased with the level of horsemanship and the behavior of the horses,” Barwick said. “If only mainstream competitive horses could present themselves as well!  My favorite entry was a young man who was riding a mule. The mule was great and had such an awesome expression; I would have taken him home if I could have.”

Barwick stayed busy during the Special Olympics, judging four dressage classes on Friday, three showmanship and 23 equitation classes on Saturday. “The horses all were presented great and the riders all looked wonderful, from their shined boots, riding jackets, black helmets or cowboy hats,” she said. “I’m very grateful that there are programs and people who are committed to such a great cause.”

Barwick added that Linda and Pat Parelli have been there for her and made a remarkable difference in her life. “The Parellis have been sponsoring me since 2006 and they were a huge part of my win in Beijing. Their support and approach to horses has made the equestrian world available to me in a way I never imagined possible. The things I can do with my horses, and the partnerships I have developed, are truly wonderful.”

Barwick, who now has her sights set on the 2012 Paralympics in London, said she believes there needs to be a higher level of awareness and understanding of what the Special Olympics and Paralympics are all about. “So many people underestimate what these athletes and riders are capable of. I would encourage more people to get out there and find out exactly what it’s all about and how inspiring and empowering it can be to see how much someone can do with so little,” she said. “I wish everyone could experience what I felt when I was judging the Special Olympics.”

Barwick said she looks forward to continuing her dressage training under the guidance of the Parellis. “Natural horsemanship techniques really help the dressage rider work on relaxation, as well as increasing harmony and connection with their horse to create a more positive relationship. This can translate into a natural foundation for performance, and I have seen it with my own horses,” Barwick said.

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About Parelli
The Parelli Program, founded in 1981 by lifelong horseman and teacher Pat Parelli, combines in-depth equine psychology and common sense communication techniques into the ultimate recipe for horse and rider success. The Parelli method allows horse owners at all levels of experience to achieve success without force, partnership without dominance and harmony without coercion. Pat and wife Linda’s mission is to make the world a better place for horses and humans, working to inspire, empower and educate through natural horsemanship. Their award-winning educational TV series can be seen on cable and satellite in the USA and UK. To learn more about Parelli, visit

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