Para Dressage is the sport of Dressage, the highest expression of horse training, for Athletes with an impairment. Conducted under the same basic rules, but with Athletes classified according to the level of their impairment, the horse has to perform at a walk, trot and canter, and all tests are ridden from memory and follow a prescribed pattern of movements. The only exception is the Freestyle which is specifically choreographed for each horse and is performed to music.
Para Dressage is the only Equestrian discipline included in the Paralympic Games, where it has been a regular fixture since 1996. The Paralympic Games are the second largest sporting event in the world after the Olympic Games, and are contested immediately after the Olympic Games in the same city and at the same venue.
The popularity of Dressage and Para Dressage has increased rapidly in recent years, with new nations competing at the top level attracting large crowds around the world. Check out the FEI’s online Para Sport magazine – The Para Equestrian Digest – launched in February 2022 and created for Para Equestrian athletes and the people connected to the sport so they can share – in their own words – their personal experiences and disability stories. Every month, the Digest puts the spotlight on an athlete or project in Para Equestrian sport with the aim of improving disability awareness and inclusion.
Competition Venue and Testing
All rules and regulations with regards to competition venues and testing are governed by the same principles as all other FEI disciplines. The General Regulations, Statutes and Discipline rules available on the FEI website apply. The formula for events is the same as for standard Dressage events with Freestyle tests and also tests where athletes follow a set programme.
A dedicated page is available for FEI Classification details and the relevant documentation. Please click here.
Competitors must wear the appropriate equipment as stipulated in the Para Dressage Rules, and are only permitted the use of special equipment when this has been formally documented and approved. Please click here.
History of Para Equestrian within the FEI
Born from the desire to create opportunities for all people with impairments to compete and achieve their goals in equestrian sport, in 2006, Para Equestrian sport joined the ranks of the other 7 disciplines regulated by the FEI. International events for both Dressage and Driving, for individuals with an impairment, were established making the FEI one of the first International Federations to govern and regulate a sport for both able-bodied athletes and athletes with impairments.
In view of frequent questions concerning FEI Dressage and FEI Para Dressage Tack, Equipment and Dress, these Guidelines have been created to help stakeholders better understand the Rules. The Guidelines are published on the FEI Dressage Rules page and FEI Para Dressage Rules page. It is a document to be used by Athletes, Officials as well as other stakeholders, and will be updated as necessary with any clarifications needed. The Guidelines are based on a non-exhaustive list of questions asked about the use of Equipment and Dress at FEI Dressage and FEI Para Dressage competitions.
The Guidelines are to be read in conjunction with the FEI Dressage Rules and FEI Para Dressage Rules, current versions. In case of any discrepancies, the FEI Dressage/Para Dressage Rules will prevail.
Please share these Guidelines amongst the Dressage and Para Dressage Officials and Athletes. The most current version of the Guidelines will always be published on the relevant Rules pages linked above and the FEI Rules App.
For any questions please contact the FEI Dressage and Para Dressage department.
Para Dressage Qualification System for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games
The Para Dressage Qualification System for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, which was approved at FEI Hybrid General Assembly in Antwerp (BEL) on 17 November 2021, was published by the IPC on 10 June 2022. You will find the approved document in the Paris 2024 Paralympic Hub on Inside.FEI.org.
As explained at the FEI Hybrid General Assembly 2021 and the FEI Sports Forum 2022, the FEI Regulations for Equestrian Events at Paralympic Games will be fully reviewed in 2022, and put forward for approval at the FEI General Assembly 2022 in Cape Town (RSA) on 13 November 2022. The draft proposals will be circulated on 6 July 2022 (as part of the rules revision process).
For any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Para Dressage Department.
You will find below two NF News for your attention:
Classification for Athletes with Vision Impairment
The FEI, in cooperation with the OC of CPEDI Hartpury and the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA), is pleased to inform that Para Equestrian Athletes with Vision Impairments will have the opportunity to be internationally classified in Birmingham (GBR), on 4 July 2022 in connection with the CPEDI3* Hartpury (GBR).
No fee will be charged to athletes attending this particular Classification Evaluation.
National Federations are kindly requested to submit the VI Classification requests to the Para Dressage Department by Wednesday 15 June at the latest with the following documents:
All of the above forms can be found on the FEI Para Equestrian Classification webpage and must be completed in full, legibly and in English or with a signed translation in copy. All Athletes, including Athletes with a Review status, must supply all of the above documents, which must be current, i.e. completed in the last 12 months. Please also note if the Athlete will be competing at CPEDI Hartpury and be requiring transport to the Classification.
As the deadline is very tight, we please ask that you send any classification requests as soon as possible.
Para Equestrian Classification Research Project
The FEI are funding a three-year study, which aims to develop a comprehensive understanding of the effect of different impairment types on performance in Dressage. This information will inform recommendations for an evidence-based, sport-specific Classification system for Para Equestrian Dressage.
We invite all National Federations to forward this email to all Para Dressage and able-bodied Dressage Athletes who might be interested in participating in the final phase of testing for this research which will take place alongside CPEDI Hartpury (GBR) with testing taking place on 5 and 6 July 2022. Please forward this email to FEI registered Para Dressage Athletes who may be interested to take part.
Attached you will find a Participant Information Sheet, which includes further details about the study. If athletes are interested in participating in this study, they should please take the time to read this Participant Information Sheet to decide whether they would like to take part. If they do, the Information Sheet provides details about how to contact the researchers to arrange their inclusion in the study. More information can also be found on the FEI Classification Research Page.
The project involves a biomechanics study to quantify performance measures from riders during ridden tests on a riding simulator. The study also involves the quantification of impairment, using tests from the current FEI Classification system, as well as additional clinical measures of impairment. This information will be used to investigate and define measures of impairment, measures of performance and the strength of association between impairment and activity limitation, which will be used to inform the development of the current Para Dressage Classification system.
Online consultations on the FEI Regulations for Equestrian Events at the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024 were conducted on 21 and 22 March.
Participants had the opportunity to discuss the Jumping, Dressage and Para Dressage Regulations in individual sessions as part of the wide-ranging Paris 2024 consultation process. The discussion on the Eventing Regulations will take place on 28 March.
The consultations are an opportunity for stakeholders to review and comment on the feedback that was received on the pre-competition and competition Regulations for each discipline.
This feedback was collected through an online questionnaire circulated to stakeholders on 7 December 2021, and the information was reviewed by Consultative Groups set up for each Olympic and Paralympic discipline.
The questionnaire was sent to athletes, officials and other Tokyo 2020 stakeholders, in addition to representatives of the International Jumping Riders Club (IJRC), the International Jumping Officials Club (IJOC), the Jumping Owner’s Club (JOC), the International Dressage Riders Club (IDRC), the International Dressage Trainers Club (IDTC), the International Dressage Officials Club (IDOC), the International Eventing Officials Club (IEOC), FEI Regional Group Chairs, and the relevant FEI Technical Committees.
The information from the consultation sessions will now be consolidated and discussed by the relevant FEI Technical Committees before being put forward to the FEI Sports Forum for discussion on 25 April. The documents for discussion at the FEI Sports Forum, which will include the proposals of the Technical Committees, will be published in advance on the FEI Sports Forum Hub.
Key dates in the consultation process are as follows:
7 December 2021
Online questionnaire circulated to 302 Athletes; 51 National Federations; 35 Officials; 7 MOUs Stakeholders and 3 Discipline Managers. All of these stakeholders participated directly at Tokyo 2020 Olympic or Paralympic Games. The deadline for returning the questionnaire was 15 February 2022.
21 March 2022
Online Session - Paris 2024 Olympic Dressage Regulations
Online Session - Paris 2024 Paralympic Regulations
22 March 2022
Online Session - Paris 2024 Olympic Jumping Regulations
Online Session - Paris 2024 Olympic Eventing Regulations
FEI Sports Forum – Sessions dedicated to all the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Regulations.
Revised Regulations to be sent to National Federations for further feedback.
Proposed Olympic and Paralympic Regulations for Paris 2024 will be published, four weeks prior to the FEI General Assembly.
NFs and other stakeholders will have one last opportunity to comment on the Regulations during the Rules Session, which will take place the day before the General Assembly.
The regulations will be put to a vote at the FEI General Assembly and the documents will be submitted to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in 2023 for approval.
Dr Sarah Jane Hobbs and her team from the University of Central Lancashire and Hartpury University are continuing their recruitment of Athletes for the testing phase of the Classification Research project. The next session of testing will take place 23 – 27 March, and we invite all Athletes who are interested in taking part to contact Dr Sarah Jane Hobbs. Should there be Athletes interested in taking part, but who are unavailable on those dates, please contact the Para Dressage Department as there may be the possibility to run further sessions.
All information regarding the Classification Research project, including information about taking part in the testing phase, can be found on the FEI Classification Research web page, and Dr Sarah Jane Hobbs’ presentation from the Para Equestrian Forum on the project is published on the FEI Para Equestrian Forum Hub.
We would like to ask National Federations to please share this news with all Para Dressage and Dressage Athletes.
For any questions, please contact the Para Dressage Department.
Over 130 participants, including Officials, Athletes, Trainers and National Federation representatives, took part in the 2022 edition of the Para Equestrian Forum, which was held online due to the pandemic.
The Forum was held over three days with sessions which looked at the Development of Para Dressage, the structure of the sport and Classification.
While the Forum discussions were conducted with a view to developing the sport structure in 2022 and the Paralympics Games in Paris 2024, the meeting was also an opportunity to reflect on past accomplishments.
We would like to thank all participants for joining the Forum and for providing such interactive discussions which will serve a solid basis for the upcoming full Rules Revision process and developments to take place in 2022.
All the relevant information, documents and presentations relating to the Forum can be found in the Para Equestrian Forum Hub. For any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Para Dressage Department.
We would like to remind you that the registration deadline for the FEI Para Equestrian Forum 2022 is 10 January 2022.
The Para Equestrian Forum will take place online and is open to all members of the Para Equestrian community, including Officials, Athletes, Trainers and National Federation representatives. Interested participants should be registered by their National Federation directly in the FEI Online Education Calendar. For issues with the registration please contact the FEI Para Dressage department.
The Agenda will consist of:
Session 1 Development of the Discipline - 18 January (12:00 – 15:00 CET)
FEI Update on Rules Revision, Education and Para Dressage Tests
Development of Para Dressage - Interactive session on developing a Para Dressage Challenge
Session 2 Development of the discipline - 19 January (12:00 – 15:00 CET)
Interactive session on proposed changes to the Para Dressage sport structure (CPEDI1* - 3*, CPEDIOs, Championships), looking into Officials requirements, tests to be ridden, qualification between levels etc.
Session 3 Classification - 28 January (10:00 – 13:00)
Keeping Classification going during the Pandemic - lessons learned
Procedural reminders and update
The Para Equestrian Technical Committee is pleased to announce that registration for the Para Equestrian Forum 2022 is now open. The Forum is open to all members of the Para Equestrian Community and will take place online, over three interactive sessions in January and February 2022.
Interested participants should contact their National Federation in order to be registered directly in the FEI Online Education Calendar, under the discipline Para Dressage. The deadline for registration is 10 January 2022.
Two interactive sessions will take place on 18 and 19 January 2022 and the third session on Classification will be organised at a date to be confirmed in February 2022.
The session on 18 January will focus on the upcoming full Rules revision, looking specifically at changes to competition structure (CPEDI1* – 3*, CPEDIOs, Championships and Series). It will go into detail of the levels of Events, tests to be ridden, qualification criteria and Officials requirements at Events.
The session on 19 January will focus on development of the sport, and the possibility to create an FEI Para Dressage World Challenge.
The third session (date TBC) will cover Classification research, Classification during the Pandemic, Classification governance and Classification procedures and reminders.
For more information please see the Para Equestrian Forum hub, and any questions can be directed to the Para Dressage Department.
The FEI has created a stakeholders survey to ensure the maintenance and continued improvement, of an already existing high standard, at FEI Events. This survey will help the FEI better understand the expectations of its key stakeholders, and the information collected will help guide the future approach of the FEI to ensuring that these are met.
The survey launches today and will be open until Monday 14 February 2022. We encourage everyone to take part in this survey, which should take no more than 10 minutes, and thank you in advance for your time.
Vision Impairment Classification
In preparation for a Vision Impairment (VI) Classification opportunity in 2022, please let us know of any athletes who are either New or have a Review status and will require a VI Classification in 2022. The location and date of this classification event is not yet confirmed and will be dependent on the numbers and locations of the athletes requiring classification. Please send information about the number of athletes requiring VI Classification to the Para Dressage Department by Monday 20 December 2021.
Para Equestrian Classification Recruitment
We would like to remind National Federations that the Classification research is continuing their recruitment of athletes for the Testing Phase of the Research Project. Following recent travel restrictions, the future testing dates are as yet uncertain, but we would ask that athletes who are interested please get in contact with the Research team to be aware of later possibilities. Please note that the compensation for athletes who take part has been modified, athletes who are interested in taking part must contact the Research team for further information.
We thank the National Federations and athletes who have already shown interest and/or participated in the project, and please ask for further support in inviting athletes to take part in this very important project. The next testing dates are 1 - 5 December, and further dates will be added in 2022 once we know if and when travel restrictions are to be lifted. More information is available on the FEI Classification Research webpage, and we encourage athletes to contact the Research team if they are interested in the project.
Para Equestrian Classification Publications
We are pleased to announce that the team of researchers, led by Dr Sarah Jane Hobbs, have published the paper “Qualitative Research Methods – Interviews with Para Dressage Stakeholders” in the Journal of Sports Sciences. This has been linked on the FEI Classification Research webpage and the full paper is available as open access.
Please forward this NF News to the person in charge of Para Equestrian within your Federation.
Questions on all topics above can be addressed to the Para Dressage department