Para Dressage

Para-Equestrian Dressage is the only Equestrian discipline that is included in the Paralympic Games, where it has been a regular fixture since 1996. With the idea of creating opportunities for all people with disabilities to compete and achieve their goals in equestrian sport, athletes are classified according to the level of their disability/impairment so as to provide for meaningful competition.

In 2006, the Para-Equestrian sport joined the ranks of the other seven disciplines regulated by the FEI, with national and international competitions for Dressage and Driving for individuals with a disability. This led to the FEI becoming the first, and still the only, International Federation to govern and regulate a sport for both the able bodied and disabled athletes.

Para equestrian is open to men and women with a physical or visually impaired disability. Its classification system puts riders into four grades;

  • Grade I incorporates severely disabled riders with poor trunk balance and/or impairment of balance in all four limbs or no trunk balance and good upper limb function.
  • Grade II incorporates riders, mainly wheelchair users or those with severe locomotive impairment involving the trunk, with reasonable balance and abdominal control or severe unilateral impairment.
  • Grade III riders are mainly able to walk without support, with moderate unilateral impairment in four limbs or severe arm impairment. This group also includes athletes with a total loss of vision in both eyes.
  • Grade IV comprises riders with impairment in one or two limbs or some degree of visual impairment.

Para-Equestrian Dressage has been steadily developing for the past twenty five years and riders with a wide variety of disabilities participate in the sport. Riders are classified by certified physiotherapists according to the level of their disability or impairment to ensure competition is fair. Classification is a process in which the rider’s physical ability is assessed resulting in a Grade between I and IV being allocated. Once the rider has been classified they can then compete in Para-Equestrian (PE) competitions against riders of the same grade.