What is Paralympics Equestrian Sport? :
Athletes compete in dressage competitions that are divided into grades according to the rider's physical abilities. Tests range from walk
only, to walk, trot
, and lateral work. Riders compete as individuals and teams. There are 3 or 4 competitors on each team that includes at least one Grade I or II rider (riders who are wheelchair bound, lacking trunk balance but use of arms, or severe impairment of all limbs). These riders will compete in a walk only test. Championship and Freestyle events are contested.
History of Paralympic Riding:
Para-equestrian sports have been growing for the last 25 years. Riding first appeared in 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games.
Para-equestrian riding and driving became the 8th FEI
sanctioned discipline in 2006. Paralympic Equestrian
sports were goverened from
1991 until 2005 by the International Paralympic Equestrian Committee (IPEC). Only riding is contested at the Paralympic Games. Until the 2008 Beijing Olympics riders rode horses supplied by the host country. 2008 is the first year riders may bring their own mounts. Some teams will be sharing horses.
How are Riders Scored?:
Competitors ride a prescribed course of movements in the championship dressage
tests. All riders within a grade will ride the same test. In the freestyle
tests, riders may design their own plan that includes required elements. The freestyle tests are ridden to music. The scoring is based on the obedience and accuracy of the horse's performance as an indication of the rider's skill.
What Equipement is Allowed?:
Riders perform in a standard 20m X 40m or 20m X 60m dressage ring
depending on their grade. Any modifications to equipment or additional equipment required by an Paralympic rider must be documented by the FEI. Visually impaired riders may use audible signals around the arena perimeters if they are unable to see the dressage letters.
How are Medals Awarded?:
Eleven sets of medals will be awarded. Individuals within a grade compete against each other and medals are awarded to those with the highest scores in the championship and freestyle tests. Team medals are awarded to the team with the highest combined scores of the best three rides.