Paralympic Equestrian

The Paralympic Equestrian events will test the ability of horse and rider to display both athletic prowess and supreme elegance.
The first World Championships took place in Sweden in 1987.

Key facts

Venue: Greenwich Park
Dates: Thursday 30 August – Tuesday 4 September 2012
Medal events: 11
Athletes: 78


Athletes with a disability have long taken part in Equestrian activities, originally as a means of rehabilitation and recreation. Para-Equestrian Dressage developed in the 1970s, with the first events held in Great Britain and Scandinavia. The multi-disability sport has since spread around the world, and athletes from more than 40 countries now compete on a regular basis.

The basics


At the Paralympic Games, athletes compete in two Dressage tests: a Championship Test, made up of set movements, and a Freestyle Test, for which athletes choose their own movements and music. There is also a team event, for three to four athletes per team. Through the tests, horse and rider must be in harmony, and the overall picture must be of lightness and rhythm.

The athletes are classified across five grades, which determine the complexity of the movements that the riders perform with their horses. These grades ensure that the tests can be judged on the skill of the rider, regardless of their disability. Riders may use permitted assistive devices such as dressage crops, connecting rein bars and the like; visually impaired riders are permitted to use ‘callers’ to help them navigate around the arena.

Paralympic Equestrian, past and present

Equestrian events first appeared on the Paralympic programme at the Los Angeles 1984 Games, and have featured at every Games since Atlanta 1996.

For London 2012, the Equestrian competition will be held in the beautiful surroundings of Greenwich Park. Dating back to 1433, it is the oldest Royal Park in London, part of the Maritime Greenwich area that has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Jargon buster 

– Canter: A steady controlled gait for which three of the horse’s legs are off the ground at once.
– Full-pass: When a horse moves sideways, bent in the direction of movement.
– Half-pass:
 When a horse moves forwards and sideways at the same time, bent in the direction of movement.
– Self-carriage:
 When a horse moves in balance without support from the reins.

Get involved

If you are new to the sport and want to find out more, the British Equestrian Federation website is a good place to start. Learn more about how to get involved on the Parasport website and at the Riding for Disabled Association website. You’ll also find plenty of information on the website of the International Equestrian Federation.

The Paralympic Equestrian Team Test, Beijing 2008

~ by superbowlnyc on June 13, 2011.

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