Sam all set for dream trip to Los Angeles

First published in Sport

A YOUNG Herefordshire rider looks set for a trip of a lifetime after being selected for the Special Olympics.

Fifteen-year-old Sam Oliver is the first county horseman ever to have been picked for the competition.

And, in a county double, his coach Janet Alderton has been invited to assist Special Olympics GB head coach Sarah Moreland at the event in Los Angeles in August 2015 and in the pre-games build-up.

But now Sam and Janet are looking for some vital assistance from the county equestrian community.

"When Sam was invited to apply for an invitation to take part in the games, it was after success with his horse Murphy," said Janet.

"But riders at the games do not take their own horses.

"While they are in America, riders compete on borrowed horses which they only have a few days to get used to.

"And so, with this in mind, we would be grateful to hear from anyone who has a quiet horse for Sam to ride, under my guidance.

"It's important that he gets the chance to ride as many different horses as possible.

"We would be very grateful as the more experience he can gain over the coming year the better he will be prepared."

Sam is diagnosed with receptive and expressive language disorder and is a pupil in the Kilder area at Bishop of Hereford's Bluecoat School.

When he was in Year 8 at the school, he started riding at Herefordshire Riding for the Disabled once a fortnight.

"Sam found it hard to find activities which really interested him so when his turn of riding with the school came to an end, his parents arranged for him to ride with HRDA once a week after school," said Janet.

"Coordination can be difficult for Sam but riding has helped him massively and the expert staff have helped him overcome many of these issues."

He now rides with the RDA group Ride2achieve based at Millside Stables in Credenhill with head coach Janet.

"We are so thrilled for Sam," said proud mum Jenny Oliver. "We had thought we might hear in January about selection and we were all so delighted when we finally heard."

The GB team for Los Angeles consists of just four riders from across the British Isles and they will join other athletes from a wide range of sports at the games.

Before that, however, Sam has some work to do to raise the funds necessary to be able to compete.

"Each athlete has to raise £2,500 towards the cost of the trip," said Janet. "And, in addition, Sam will need a further £3,000 to cover the additional training costs over the next year, and training takes place over a number of weekends at various venues across the country.

Anyone wishing to assist with sponsoring Sam can visit his page at www.everyclick.com/samoliver and anyone with a suitable horse for him to ride to gain experience can call Janet on 07817 831108.

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