With members of the Aiken Volunteer Mounted Unit leading the way, riders marched into a show ring at Bruce’s Field on Saturday for the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics South Carolina State Equestrian Show.

After the parade of athletes, Dawson Fulghum sang “The Star Spangled Banner” and Justin Rousseau of the Aiken Department of Public Safety lit the torch.

There also were recitations of the oaths for athletes, coaches and judges.

The competition will begin at 9 a.m. Sunday. There are English Equitation, English Trail, Western Equitation and Western Trail classes.

The riders from Area 15, which is made up of Aiken, Edgefield and Saluda counties, are Fulghum, Breyden Anderson, Luis Ayona, Nathan Creech, Carrie Epps, Taylor Horne, Hampton Shuler and Megan Weeks.

They have been training at Great Oak Aiken Therapeutic Riding Center.

In all, there are riders from six of the 16 Special Olympics areas in South Carolina participating.

The Aiken Horse Park Foundation’s Bruce’s Field is at 931 Powderhouse Road S.E.

​Dede Biles is the Aiken County government, business and horse industry reporter for the Aiken Standard. Follow her on Twitter @DBethBiles.