Para dressage is the sport of dressage for riders with a physical impairment. The word para in this context comes from the term “parallel”, referring to the Paralympics being “parallel” to the Olympics.
Para dressage 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 the least impaired.
Para dressage in Britain
Great Britain has one of the best developed pathways for equestrian disability sport in the world, with British Dressage offering plenty of opportunities for riders wishing to get involved at any level from grassroots to international.
British Dressage also has close links with the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), via which several top British Paralympic athletes begun their careers in dressage.
Para dressage on the world stage
Para dressage has been part of the Paralympic Games since 1996. Until 2018, Britain totally dominated the international stage, winning the team competition at every major champipnship. In 2018, Britain took the silver medal behind the Netherlands at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, USA, and the result was repeated in 2019 at the European Championships in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Britain remains the only nation to have ever claimed Paralympic dressage team gold. At the last Paralympics in Rio 2016, Britain was represented by Sophie Wells, Sophie Christiansen, Natasha Baker, Lee Pearson and Anne Dunham.