A guide to the London Paralympic Games equestrian events

Para-dressage kicks off tomorrow in Greenwich Park. (Recommence chants of “USA! USA! USA!”) Here’s what you need to know.

WHAT: Riding first appeared in 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games, and has been a part of each Paralympic Games since. The equestrian competition consists of dressage only, with championship test and freestyle tests performed. There is also a team competition, with three to four riders per team.

Eleven sets of medals are awarded.

Each athlete is assigned to one of five “grades” depending on their disability type. This enables the athletes to compete against those with similar disabilities.

  • Grade Ia and Ib (Athletes with the severest disabilities such as spinal cord injuries, les autres and cerebral palsy)
  • Grade II (Athletes with severe disabilities but who retain reasonable balance and abdominal control)
  • Grade III (Athletes, including those who are visually impaired, with good balance, leg movement and co-ordination)
  • Grade IV (Ambulant athletes with either impaired vision, leg or arm function)

To help level the playing field, certain devices are allowed for some disability classes. Additionally, blind and visually impaired competitors can have a “call” to help them navigate their test.

WHERE: The Paralympic Equestrian Games take place at Greenwich Park.

WHEN: Here’s the schedule, from www.london2012.com.

WHO’S COMPETING: Team USA includes…

Dale Dedrick

Rebecca Hart

Donna Ponessa

Jonathan Wentz

The U.S.’s Chef d’Equipe is Missy Ransehousen.

The Chronicle of the Horse has a great profile of the team riders here.


Good luck to Team USA and all of the para-dressage riders competing in London. You’re all heroes in our book.

Keep up with all the latest Paralympics equestrian news and scores here.

Go Riding.

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