Competition at the Highest Levels



Paralympic equestrian became a medal sport at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The rider and the horse are both considered athletes, working together to display a range of control and precision movement that makes equestrian one of the most elegant events at the Games.

Paralympic riders compete in dressage, where they are judged on horsemanship and command skills in walking, trotting, and cantering.

Individual athletes compete in two events: a set of pre-determined moves that test skill, obedience, flexibility, and balance; and a freestyle round, set to music, to showcase style and creativity.

There is also a competition for teams of three to four athletes.

Equestrian is open to athletes with amputations and visual impairment, and to athletes who use wheelchairs or have cerebral palsy or brain injuries.

Top Contenders:
• Great Britain dominated Paralympic equestrian at the Games in Beijing and has the “home ring” advantage in London. Germany is also a strong contender.
• Team USA last medalled in 2004 when Lynn Seidemann won silver in Mixed-Dressage (freestyle). The last American to win gold was Vicki Sweigart, who took two top medals in 1996.

Paralympics 2012 Competition: Aug. 30 – Sept. 4

Athlete Classifications

All disability groups can ride in equestrian events, divided into four groups, called “grades” in the sport:

Class Disability

Grade 1 (1a and 1b)

1a. Athletes with impairment of all 4 limbs plus severely impaired trunk function and balance.
1b. Athletes with poor/moderate trunk balance with impairment in all 4 limbs. Also, athletes with no trunk balance with good upper limb function.

Grade 2

Athletes with severe impairment in the trunk but relatively good upper limb function. Also, athletes with severe arm impairment and slight leg impairment, or those with severe impairment on one side.

Grade 3

Athletes with moderate impairment on one side, moderate impairment in all 4 limbs, or severe arm impairment. Also totally blind athletes and those with intellectual impairment.

Grade 4

Impairment in one or two limbs or some visual impairment.

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