Show jumping for riders with a physical disability is moving a step closer to becoming recognised by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) with the formation of a set of rules and a new British association.
The British Para Show Jumping Association (BPSJA) was set up in February and aims to encourage people into the sport, with promotion, training and shows.
The BPSJA has 30 members so far, with disabilities graded from one (blindness and partial sight) to the most severe at grade four, which includes amputees.
BPSJA chairman Andrew Lawes said: “We cannot cater for riders with conceptual handicaps [learning difficulties] because of FEI rules, but there are many riders in this country who are competing despite their disabilities, including my wife.
“Our first blind and visually-impaired members will take part in our competition in August.
“Our aim is to get para show jumping accepted in the Paralympics, but realistically that won’t happen for some time.”
The BPSJA has been working with the British Show Jumping Association (BSJA) and the FEI to create gradings and rules and Jonquil Solt, chairman of the FEI Paralympic equestrian committee,hopes para show jumping will be included in FEI approved disciplines next year.
The first UK para show jumping competition took place in Sussex last August (news, 10 May 2007), and the BSJA and BPSJA are organising a number of classes this summer, including at the BSJA Area 42 Show at Wiltshire College in Chippenham on 28 June and an international competition at the Showground, Chepstow from 15-17 August.
Para show jumper Louise Hacker said: “Para dressage is now accepted across the world, and we want the same for para show jumping. There are a lot of us taking part in BSJA competitions and we want to open it up to more riders.”
This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (19 June, ’08)