FEI Classification Research


In Paralympic sports, all athletes are classified into sports classes based on the impact of their impairment on sports performance. In 2007, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) published the IPC Classification Code, which amongst other things, mandated the development of evidence-based Classification systems across all para sports. Read more ...

Classification Research Phases
Year 1 Scoping Review - Performance Measures Published 24 April 2020
  Scoping Review - Impairment Measures Published 13 December 2022
Year 2 Qualitative Research Methods - Interviews with Para Dressage Stakeholders Published 3 November 2021
Year 3

Towards an Evidence-Based Classification System for Para Dressage: Associations between Impairment and Performance Measures 

Executive Summary

Published 31 August 2023


Published 11 September 2023


Latest Classification Research Updates

2 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.

5 October 2021

Classification Research Testing Recruitment

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 next stage of this research, which 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. Please forward this email to athletes by Tuesday 12 October to ensure that the timeframe for our recruitment process is met.


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.


Please do not hesitate to contact the FEI Para Dressage department or the Principal Investigator of the study, Dr Sarah Jane Hobbs (SJHobbs1@uclan.ac.uk) if you have any questions.



Participant Information Sheet

Consent Form

8 May 2020

Classification Research Project 

The FEI Para Equestrian Classification Research project began in 2018 and is led by a team of researchers from the University of Central Lancashire in collaboration with colleagues from Hartpury University and Prof Hilary Clayton (Sport Horse Science).
The FEI Para Dressage department is pleased to announce that the research team have published the “A scoping review of determinants of performance in Dressage”, the first outcomes from the first year of the FEI Para Equestrian Classification Research project.
Please find the article linked on the new FEI Classification Research page, on inside.FEI.org, which has been created to keep stakeholders informed of the progress of the FEI Para Equestrian Classification Research project. All background information, updates and publications from the research will be published on this new webpage as well as any other research projects in relation to the project. For any questions please contact the Para Dressage department

28 October 2019

Classification Research Project 

We would like to thank National Federations for their interest in the FEI Classification research project, and for offering to take part. The researchers have now completed the data collection phase for this study, and have reached the target number of participants. We will be conducting a testing phase next year at Hartpury University as part of the wider research project, which we will advertise through FEI and NF communications at a later day. We hope that any interested Athletes will consider taking part in the testing phase.

23 August 2019

Para Equestrian News - Reminder!

We would like to follow up on the previous Para Equestrian News concerning the Classification Research Project. Due to the low numbers of responses please can we ask that this email (including the attachments) are sent to your Para Equestrian departments and/or Athletes to raise awareness and interest in the research project currently taking place.

The researchers would like to recruit Para Dressage Athletes to take part in telephone interviews, as explained in the Information sheet attached.

Thank you in advance for your support in this project. For any questions please contact the FEI Para Dressage Department.

10 July 2019

FEI Para Equestrian Classification Research Project 

The FEI is funding a three-year study to inform recommendations for an evidence-based, sport-specific Para Dressage Classification. The next stage of this study involves conducting interviews with Para Dressage Athletes and stakeholders to ensure that their views and experiences serve as a basis for the evolution of the current Para Dressage Classification system. Several interviews have already been conducted with stakeholders (Classifiers, Judges, Coaches, etc.) and Para Dressage Athletes, and we are now looking to recruit between 5 to 10 English speaking Para Dressage Athletes to participate in the final interviews.


We are looking to recruit Para Dressage Athletes across several National Federations (NFs) and would be grateful for NFs to select and forward this email (including the attachments) to their English speaking Para Dressage Athletes within their Federation. More detailed information about the research project can be found in the attached Participant Information Form and we encourage all NFs to ensure their proposed Athletes are familiar with the purpose and requirements of the research project prior to expressing an interest. Note that we are limited to the number of Athletes that will be selected, so it is possible that not all expressions of interest will be pursued. The Participant Consent form is also attached for consideration.


Thank you for your support in this important endeavour!

27 April 2018


FEI Classification Research Reference Group 

The FEI Classification Research project has been launched with a research partnership, run by Dr Sarah Jane Hobbs, between the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) and Hartpury University Centre, both located in Great Britain. This project, which will have a duration of three years, will evaluate the FEI Classification system and will provide evidence-based research to the system, in compliance with the IPC Classification Code.
The FEI is seeking candidates, from the Para-Equestrian community, for the Classification Research Reference Group which will be an advisory group to the researchers. This is open to people who have an interest in the development of Para-Equestrian Athlete Classification. We are seeking members with technical knowledge or experience from within the sport of Para-Equestrian (Dressage and/or Driving) who are able to actively contribute to the research project in an advisory capacity. The invitation for candidates is open to Para-Equestrian Athletes, Classifiers, Coaches and Officials.
The Classification Research Reference Group will be a point of reference for the FEI Classification Research Project’s team from the University of Central Lancashire and Hartpury University Centre. It is anticipated that the group will have a global representation and therefore conference calls will occur at several times per year. There will also be the need for additional liaison via email as required with the possibility of smaller group meetings in person if necessary.
The group will play a key role in receiving and reviewing project updates and providing advice on the following aspects of the project:

  • technical aspects of the sport (Dressage and Driving) as it applies to Classification of Athletes

  • suggestions or actions that may need to be taken as the project advances

  • dissemination of information in easy to read language

  • interpretation of results achieved 

In addition, the Project Reference Group will:

  • assist the research team in ensuring that the research questions, methods and interpretations are appropriate, acceptable and achievable

  • advise the research team with regards to the production of information and consent materials and processes, as well as practicalities of recruitment.

As the Project has commenced, there is a need for the group to be convened within the coming months so we ask for nominations to be made to the FEI, using the attached candidature form, by 18 May. Please send any queries to Chloe Harty.

7 July 2016

FEI Classification Research Project

We are pleased to share the draft research strategy for the scientific review of the FEI Classification System for Para-Equestrian sport. The strategy has been developed by the FEI Classification Working Group in collaboration with the FEI Para-Equestrian Committee and has also been submitted to the International Paralympic Committee for a first review. We would now also like to involve our National Federations in the consultation process and would greatly appreciate receiving your feedback with regards to the following until 12 August 2016:

  • Proposed modifications to the draft research strategy
  • Potential interest of universities/professors/students in your country to contribute to the research project
  • Potential interest of specific athletes, trainers, classifiers, other officials or NF staff to contribute to this research project.

All feedback (to be sent to carina.mayer@fei.org) will be assembled in mid-August and shared with the FEI Classification Working Group and FEI Para-Equestrian Committee for further discussion.