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Athletes from local therapy center participate in Special Olympics horse show

Several athletes from Parkwood Farms Therapy Center in Snellville recently won gold, silver and bronze medals during the Special Olympics of Georgia’s 2013 Horse Show.

They were among 280 athletes and coaches, as well as 75 volunteers, who came together at Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center in Gainsville on Oct. 11 through 13 for the competition.

“I have our athletes participate in the state games because it is a community based event with a social aspect that we do not get here at the facility or a lot of times in their daily lives,” said Marilyn Peterson, coach and CEO at Parkwood Farms. “Each rider blossoms in their own way. They get to show the skills that they have worked hard on and learned throughout the year. It allows them to participate in something that is theirs.”

Participants competed in dressage, showmanship, equitation and trail riding. In total, the team brought home five gold medals, five silver medals, seven bronze medals and six fourth-place ribbons.

Peterson said each athlete excels in a different area and enjoys different events.

“Some love the competition, the dance on Saturday night or just staying in the hotel and riding the elevator,” she said. “The best thing in my opinion is that everyone is a winner. The athletes feel they are part of a team and they are just like everyone else. It is just plain fun. Medals and ribbons are nice, but it is all about the fun.”

Parkwood Farms Therapy Center is a facility “dedicated to enriching the lives of physically, emotionally and mentally challenged children and adults” through therapeutic horse riding.

For more information about Parkwood Farms and its programs, visit parkwoodfarms.org.