A bluffer’s guide to the para dressage World Championships in Herning – and the new format for 2022

  • The Para Dressage World Championships take place in Herning, Denmark, from 10-14 August, with the world’s best para dressage riders set to do battle.

    Athletes are classified across five grades, according to the impact their disability has on their ability to ride. Grade I is for those who are most severely impaired and grade V is for those who are least severely impaired. 

    While the basic format of the competition follows that of previous World Championships, this year will feature a key difference, namely in the tests that riders will perform at each stage.

    There are 83 para dressage combinations set to start in Herning, and all athletes will ride in the individual competition over the first two days, with medals awarded in each grade. Grades I, II and IV will compete on Wednesday, 10 August, and grades III and V on Thursday, 11 August. However, this year, it will be the “team” test that is ridden for the individual medals, with combinations in each grade performing their respective version. This test also serves as the first qualifier for the individual final – the freestyle. 

    The team competition for the team medals will run over the following two days, with grades I, II and IV in action on Friday, 12 August, and grades III and V on Saturday, 13 August. Horses and riders will perform the more difficult “individual” test, and the team medals will be decided based solely on this test, with the lowest score in each team dropped. This test also serves as the second qualifier for the individual final.

    Each combination’s results from the team and individual tests will be combined to determine the top eight athletes from each grade, who will then go forward to compete in the freestyle, with all grades on Sunday, 14 August. Riders must have achieved at least 60% as an average of the two tests to be eligible to compete in the freestyle. Individual medals will be awarded for the freestyle in each grade. 

    Para Dressage World Championships: facts and figures

    The first FEI World Para Dressage Championships took place in 2007 at Hartpury, in Britain. In 2010, para dressage was incorporated into the World Equestrian Games (WEG) format, and this remained until 2018, when the last WEG took place, in Tryon, USA.

    Britain has by far the strongest track record when it comes to para dressage World Championship medals, having won team gold on three out of four occasions to date. The British team was beaten to gold by the Netherlands at WEG in 2018, the first time Britain had not won gold at any para dressage major championship. This means that the Netherlands are the reigning world champions going into Herning.

    Aside from Britain and the Netherlands, the only other nations to have won para dressage World Championship team medals are Germany (two silver and two bronze), Denmark (one bronze) and Norway (one bronze).

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