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A new world

Equestrian

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Men and women compete on equal terms in equestrian, which became part of the Paralympic Games at Atlanta 1996. Dressage is the only discipline contested, with 10 individual events and one team competition.
Spectator's Guide - Equestrian
  • Equestrian

About

About

Aim of the game

The rider must prompt the horse to perform compulsory movements – such as steps, trots and canters – and freestyle routines choreographed to music

Why should you watch this?

You will be amazed and touched by the understanding between horse and rider as they strive for perfect harmony in the famous ‘horse ballet’

International Federation

FEI

Paralympic debut

Atlanta 1996

Rules
  • On the bit

    On the bit

    Movement used to stop the horse by putting pressure on the bit (the part in his mouth, attached to the reins), making the horse responsive to the rider’s commands

  • Pirouette

    Pirouette

    Rhythmic spin in which the horse turns with its inside hind leg serving as the axis, inspired by ballet

  • Transition

    Transition

    Movement in which the horse alternates its legs with each trot or walk

Impress your friends

  • Dressage originated in ancient Greece when competing horses were required to move in a natural and disciplined manner

    Dressage originated in ancient Greece when competing horses were required to move in a natural and disciplined manner

  • The first competitions for people with an impairment were held around 1970 in England and Scandinavia, but the sport made its Paralympic debut in 1996

    The first competitions for people with an impairment were held around 1970 in England and Scandinavia, but the sport made its Paralympic debut in 1996

  • Denmark’s Lis Hartel was the first athlete with an impairment to win an Olympic medal in equestrian: the silver in dressage at Helsinki 1952

    Denmark’s Lis Hartel was the first athlete with an impairment to win an Olympic medal in equestrian: the silver in dressage at Helsinki 1952

  • Belgium’s Michele George overcame the home favourites on her Paralympic Games debut at London 2012 to win the IV class individual and freestyle golds

    Belgium’s Michele George overcame the home favourites on her Paralympic Games debut at London 2012 to win the IV class individual and freestyle golds

  • Great Britain is the leading nation in the sport, winning all the team events since Atlanta 1996. At London 2012, the Brits won five golds, four silvers and one bronze

    Great Britain is the leading nation in the sport, winning all the team events since Atlanta 1996. At London 2012, the Brits won five golds, four silvers and one bronze

  • British duo Sophie Christiansen and Natasha Baker both won individual and team golds in their respective classes (Ia and II) at London 2012

    British duo Sophie Christiansen and Natasha Baker both won individual and team golds in their respective classes (Ia and II) at London 2012

  • Equestrianism is used as a rehabilitative tool for a wide variety of impairments

    Equestrianism is used as a rehabilitative tool for a wide variety of impairments

  • Olympic horses work out on treadmills and receive massage, physiotherapy and acupuncture treatments

    Olympic horses work out on treadmills and receive massage, physiotherapy and acupuncture treatments

  • Top horses fly around the world on specially designed aeroplanes and have passports containing detailed physical descriptions and lists of vaccines taken

    Top horses fly around the world on specially designed aeroplanes and have passports containing detailed physical descriptions and lists of vaccines taken

Events

Equestrian in the Paralympic Games consists only of dressage events – individual, team and freestyle.

Competitors must perform a series of mandatory movements – such as steps, trots and canters – based on the rider’s degree of impairment. Teams have 3 or 4 members.

The freestyle is an event with free movements performed to music, this is where the name ‘horse ballet’ comes from.

Adaptations

For reasons of accessibility and safety, the arena is smaller than the Olympic equivalent and compacted sand is used to facilitate movement.

During competition, the rider may not make a sound, but blind athletes may be guided by sound signals.

Judges

Spread throughout the arena, the judges evaluate the precision of the movements with scores of zero to one. The rider and horse combination with the highest score wins.

The judges observe the smallest details, such as the position of the horse’s head, and faults are indicated by a bell.

Stats

Top Medalists

Men
GBR
Lee Pearson
10 1 1 12
NED
Joop Stokkel
1 3 2 6
DEN
Hans Lykkestrig
3 1 0 4
Women
GBR
Sophie Christiansen
5 1 1 7
GER
Hannelore Brenner
4 3 0 7
GBR
Deborah Criddle
4 2 0 6