"Contested at elite level around the globe..."

BT and Channel 4 present: Lee Pearson - The Colour Gold 105
BT and Channel 4 present: Lee Pearson - The Colour Gold

Dressage, which is currently the only Equestrian discipline included in the Paralympic Games, was originally developed for mounted battle training.

Although the discipline dates back around 2000 years, it was during a wider cultivation of the arts in the 15th century that it developed into a recreational activity.

It is now contested at elite level around the globe, including 27 nations at a Paralympic Games. Although Dressage is the Paralympic discipline, various styles of horse riding are thought to help improve mobility and coordination.

At the Paralympic Games, Equestrian competitions are open to visually impaired riders or those with a physical impairment – men and women all compete together. The competition consists of both a traditional Dressage event and Freestyle (or ‘kur’) test, where the riders perform to music. There is also a team event for groups comprising three or four riders from different grades.

The classification system puts riders into five grades from Ia to IV:

  • Grades Ia and Ib incorporate the most severely impaired riders with poor trunk balance or impairment of balance in all four limbs.
  • Grade II is for riders 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 severe arm impairment or moderate unilateral impairment. This also includes riders with a total loss of vision in both eyes.
  • Grade IV riders will have an impairment in one or two limbs, or some degree of visual impairment.

At an non-elite level Equestrian can be practiced by riders with almost any impairment, including a learning disability. 

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