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Paralympic Games

The major championships in equestrian sport run in a four-year cycle. 

Year 1: European Championships
Year 2: World Championships
Year 3: European Championships
Year 4: Olympic and Paralympic Games

The Paralympic Games is overseen by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), with British athletes competing for the British Paralympic Association under the banner of ParalympicsGB. Para dressage, or para equestrian as it is known at the Games, is run with input from the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), the international governing body for equestrian sport.

The Paralympics Games will be held in Paris in the summer of 2024, click here for further information.

In para dressage, there are team and individual medals up for grabs, with gold, silver and bronze medals awarded to the combinations that make it onto the podium. 

Vet inspections are carried out before the start of competition and again towards the end of competition to ensure that all horses are fit to compete. 

Competition structure

Para dressage, known at the Paralympic Games as para equestrian, sees athletes classified into five grades (1–5) depending on their levels of mobility, strength and coordination. Grade 1 tests are ridden in walk, grade 2 and 3 include walk and trot, and grade 4 and 5 are comprised of walk, trot, canter and lateral work. A set of medals is awarded for each grade in the individual and freestyle tests, and there is a set of medals for the team competition.

To assist them during their tests, riders may use additional aids such as looped reins or callers, and nations can enlist 'friend' horses to stand just outside the arena to help the competing horse stay relaxed. In para dressage there are five judges marking each test, spread at different points around a 40m x 20m arena.

Nations put forward a team of three riders from across the grades – teams can't contain more than two riders in any one grade. 


First up is the competition for individual medals, known as the FEI Para Grand Prix A. Athletes in each grade perform a set routine of movements, which are marked out of 10. Additional marks are given for the general impression of the test, which includes harmony, skill of the athlete and their accuracy. Scores are given as a percentage, with the combination with the highest percentage in each grade receiving the gold medal.

The top eight combinations in each grade will qualify for the freestyle test.


Teams are made up three athletes, at least one of which must be in grades one, two or three. No more than two athletes within a team may be the same grade. Each combination rides the set test for their grade, which is scored as per the individual test – no scores are carried over from the previous test.

The scores of all three team members are combined to produce a team total, and the nation with the highest total takes gold.


Eight combinations from each grade compete for medals by riding their own choreographed floorplan, set to music of their choice. No scores are carried over from the individual test, which acts as the qualifier. Scores are awarded as per the two previous tests, but with additional marks for artistic merit, which includes rhythm, harmony, riding skills, choreography and interpretation of the music. The winner is the combination with the highest percentage score.