Laurie Scott


Founder, Great Strides Equestrian Foundation

Laurie Scott, an equestrian with 44 years of experience at the highest levels of riding and instruction, leads Great Strides, a 501(c)(3) charity that provide a safe, nurturing environment where teens can embark on transformative journeys alongside magnificent horses. Laurie collaborates with professional polo player and instructor Mario Dino of the Saratoga Polo School and the Boys and Girls Club of the Capital Area to deliver the Great Strides program.

Nominator L.A. Sokolowski praised Laurie, writing, “When I tell you that Laurie Lynn Scott can manage a string of horses and amateur riders with one arm tied behind her back, I do not exaggerate. She volunteered her 2022 summer as coach, horse provider, and den mother for the inaugural Special Olympics-NY riding team (SONY), guiding a squad of four uniquely challenged amateur horsemen and women through classes at the Saratoga WIB Classic, HITS-Saugerties, and Hampton Classic. Her support and coaching helped SONY establish an equestrian team, and like the great instructor she is, she unsnapped the metaphoric leadline and let them find their stride—all with one arm in a cast.”

With both arms healthy, Laurie has been unstoppable, launching the Great Strides Equestrian Foundation in 2023. This initiative created the first-ever young person’s polo team in Saratoga Springs, NY, in partnership with the Boys & Girls Club. Every team member comes from the city, and many had never seen a horse before, let alone imagined playing polo. Yet within three months of working with Laurie and the hands-on guidance from Saratoga Polo School and Mario Dino, these kids were playing in matches—and playing well. Throughout the winter, they took flat lessons, transforming from self-conscious beginners into confident young adults. Within six months, the Great Strides polo team’s photo was featured in the Paulick Report. Laurie’s program excels in youth development, diversity, and equity according to Sokolowski.

Laurie lives by the quote, “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” — Margaret Mead.

The horse that had the most significant impact on Laurie’s life wasn’t her Pony Finals Grand Green or Junior Hunter Finals winner, but a pony named Empire’s Paris, which she bought for her daughters. Paris was not just fancy but incredibly kind and dependable. Laurie said, “I knew that when I sent her into the ring, she would always jump the jumps and bring the kids back safely. They could take her out on the trails and she would never spook or act up. Dependability and kindness are everything to me, and she is still that same pony today.”

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