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Love Horses? Consider Adaptive Carriage Driving - Cure Medical
CURE NATION: Did you know carriage driving has been adapted for wheelchair users? Find out how you can get involved below!

United States Driving for the Disabled, Inc. (USDFD), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, seeks to improve the lives of physically challenged individuals throughout the United States and Canada by providing the experience of driving horses in a safe and challenging environment.

Their mission is to provide the extraordinary benefit of therapeutic driving to as many people as possible through sharing knowledge, experience, and serving as a resource for innovations in adaptive equipment for drivers, trainers, and programs offering carriage driving.

You may have heard of, or maybe even played, wheelchair basketball, quad rugby or power soccer. You’ve probably seen wheelchair racing or images of a WCMX participant doing flips in their chair at a skate park. But, what about driving a horse-drawn carriage from a wheelchair?! Now, that’s cool!

photo courtesy of the Triumph Foundation

Carriage driving for people with physical disabilities began in England in the early 1970s, and came to the US in the 1980s.

The following excerpt reveals USDFD founder, Sybil Dukehart’s, motivation for starting the organization:

“One of the [My Lady’s Manor Driving] Club’s members, Ned Dukehart, suffered an illness that left him having to use a wheelchair to move more than a few steps. This does not prevent Ned, buoyant character that he is, from doing his bit in the garden as usual, but moving around the farm is another matter. To solve this problem, his wife, Sybil Dukehart, had a wheelchair carriage of the latest design built in England and it arrived at Shoulderbone Farm a few days ago.” –  Source: The Carriage Journal: Vol 22 No 2, Fall 1984

The article goes on to describe that the accessible carriage had, “traditional leaf springs, a low center of gravity, ease of access for the chair via a ramp at the rear and a for a companion at the front, as well as secure, easily worked fasteners for the chair.”

Dukehart went on to serve as the first president of USDFD and has left a strong legacy for existing and potential carriage driving enthusiasts.

photo courtesy of United States Driving for the Disabled, Inc.

USDFD AIMS to provide the extraordinary benefit of therapeutic driving to as many people as possible. Through sharing knowledge, innovation and experience, they provide help and inspiration to programs offering carriage driving for people with disabilities throughout the United States.

The national headquarters of USDFD are located at the beautifully appointed Gayla Driving Center in the heart of the Bluegrass State of Kentucky. This organization provides guidance and support for individual drivers and instructors, as well as assistance in developing new programs offering driving opportunities.

Adaptive Carriage Driving is a Growing Sport

Over the last thirty years, carriage driving for people in wheelchairs has gained a lot of traction. Today, USDFD hosts clinics nationwide, and shares helpful information on competitions and equipment. The organization’s current president, Diane Kastama, is a champion driver herself and enjoys attending clinics and sharing the sport with all kinds of people.

Diana Kastama, photo courtesy of United States Driving for the Disabled, Inc.

The USDFD website says, “Six time FEI Para-Driving Medalist at the international level and USEF ParaEquestrian and Technical Committee Member, Diane has been paralyzed since 1991 and is an expert on adaptive equipment and carriages. Diane actively competes with both singles and pairs. She was awarded the 2006 Chronicle of the Horse Driver of the year and was recently awarded the 2014 Becky Grand Hart Trophy at the USEF’s Pegasus awards. Diane continues to mentor new drivers whether they are disabled or not.”

“Diane strongly believes that carriage driving is a sport that brings everyone together, and continues to work tirelessly towards equality in the sport and opportunities for the disabled.”

USDFD and Triumph Foundation Host Carriage Driving Event

Recently, USDFD collaborated with Triumph Foundation for their annual carriage driving demonstration.

The Triumph Foundation runs peer support programs throughout Southern California and serves as the local chapter of United Spinal Association.

Diane was in attendance to share her experience and expertise – and fun was had by all! You can check out all of their photos in their Facebook album.

photo courtesy of the Triumph Foundation

In addition to hosting clinics, USDFD also supports, selects and trains the elite drivers of Team USA that compete in the World Championships for Drivers with Disabilities. “Our design innovations strive to bring the joy, art and skill of horsemanship within reach of those challenged by disability.”

The FEI World Championships for Singles and Para-driving will take place in Kronenberg, Germany, from August 28th to September 2nd, 2018. The championships will be held simultaneously for the first time in the history of this equestrian sport. The top international drivers in both categories will compete for the coveted title of World Champion.

Via USDFD: para drivers wishing to be considered for selection can request more information by emailing Marcie Quist or Laureen Johnson. there is an auction currently running to raise funds to help send TEAM USA to the Championships.
Get Involved with Adaptive Carriage Driving

To get more information about the USDFD or para-equestrian driving clinics, visit their website.

Join the Triumph Foundation for their 2018 Wheelchair Sports Festival

Encouraged by what you’ve seen here? There’s still more to explore in the world of adaptive sports!

Join Cure Medical at the 2018 Wheelchair Sports Festival hosted by Triumph Foundation to learn more. We’ll be there too!

Triumph’s 7th Annual Wheelchair Sports Festival will take place on April 28 & 29, 2018 in Santa Clarita, CA. 

Register for FREE:

Triumph Foundation hosts this FREE event to introduce wheelchair sports to people that are newly injured, Veterans, children, and others with disabilities; as well as provide learning opportunities to the general public and showcase people living with physical impairment in a way that members of the community do not often see.

Come out to play:
• Quad Rugby
• Basketball
• Hockey
• Racquetball
• Handcycling
• Baseball
• Pickle Ball
• Curling
• Boccia Ball
• SCUBA Diving
• Rowing & Throwing
• Dodge Ball
• Powerchair Rodeo
• Art, Music & Dance
• Youth Camp

They will have an extra 30+ sports wheelchairs for people to use, plus coaches and instructors to teach you how to play the games. Just register and show up! Did we mention that it’s FREE!?

Registration begins at 8:00am
Event Starts at 9:00am (both days)
Ends at 5pm Saturday; 3pm Sunday.

The Wheelchair Sports Festival is part of the Paralympic Gateway to Gold initiative that is a talent identification program introducing Paralympic-eligible athletes to sports, acting as a pipeline to competition, and is often the first step toward the podium representing U.S. Paralympic Team.

Fun for your whole family! Push the Limits of Your Ability!
Questions? Email

Cure Medical is a proud financial supporter of Triumph Foundation and the 2018 Wheelchair Sports Festival.  Thank you for Choosing a Cure!

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