Although a Para-Equestrian may participate in any discipline, the two disciplines currently recognized by the U.S. are Para-Dressage and Para-Driving. Para-Jumping has become more recognized around the world as popularity grows. During the Paralympics which occurs alongside the summer Olympics, the only discipline that competes is Para-Dressage. Riders are encourage to try all disciplines.
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 7 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.
How Para-Equestrian Grades relate to United States Dressage Federation levels:
• FEI PE Grade Ia is equivalent to Introductory Level.
• FEI PE Grade Ib is equivalent to Training Level
• FEI PE Grade II is equivalent to First Level.
• FEI PE Grade III is equivalent to Second Level.
• FEI PE Grade IV is equivalent to Third Level.
Competition Venue and Testing
All rules and regulations with regards to competition venues and testing are governed by the same principles as other disciplines. The General Regulations, Statutes and Discipline rules that are available on this site apply. The formula for the shows is the same as for standard Dressage shows with Freestyle tests and also tests where the athletes follow a set program.
The competitor’s mobility, strength and coordination are assessed in order to establish their Classification Profile. People with similar functional ability Profiles are grouped into competition Grades. The Grades range from for the most severely impaired, to Grade IV for the least impaired. The competition within each Grade can therefore be judged on the skill of the individual competitor on their horse, regardless of the competitor’s disability.
Below are few documents that explain Classifications and the application process:
-Compensation aids document
-Application procedure to use Compensatory aids in FEI Dressage Competitions (CDIs)
Competitors must wear the appropriate equipment as stipulated in the classification manual, and are only permitted the use of special equipment when this has been formally documented and approved.
The major event for Paralympic Dressage is the Paralympic Games. The Games are the second largest sporting event in the world after the Olympic Games. The Paralympics are contested immediately after the Olympics in the same city and venue.