Beginners’ guide to Paralympic dressage at Rio 2016

  • What’s the format?

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

    Britain will field a squad of five riders from across the grades in Rio, with four making up the team and one competing as an individual.

    All combinations, whether they are competing for a team or as an individual, will perform three tests: a team test, held on the first two days of competition, from 11-13 September; an individual championship test, from 13-15 September, and a freestyle test to music, which will take place on 16 September.

    How does the scoring work?

    The results of the team and individual tests are combined to calculate the team standings, with the best three scores counting, while the individual and freestyle tests determine the individual medals.

    How many medals are there?

    There are 11 sets of medals up for grabs in Rio. Medals are awarded for each individual class across the five grades, and for each freestyle class, as well as for the overall team competition. The final four of the six days of para-dressage competition will include medal ceremonies.

    Who are the main contenders?

    Britain has reigned supreme over the sport for two decades and is the defending Paralympic champion, having won team gold at London 2012. The squad also clocked up 10 individual medals in London, and with five British riders — Sophie Christiansen, Lee Pearson, Anne Dunham, Sophie Wells and Natasha Baker — currently in the top 15 world rankings, Team GBR’s chances look as strong as ever.

    Britain topped the podium once more at the 2015 European championships in Deauville, but snapping at their heels was the Netherlands, who displayed their strength in depth by claiming eight individual medals too. They look to be a force to be reckoned with in Rio, as do Italy, Belgium and Germany.

    Stay up to date with H&H

    A full report from the Paralympics will feature in the 22 September issue of Horse & Hound, as well as a Paralympic preview in the 8 September issue. Stay up to speed with news, scores, video and all things Paralympic on H&H’s dedicated Rio 2016 microsite, as well as at www.horseandhound.co.uk.

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