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’
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
Rhythmic spin in which the horse turns with its inside hind leg serving as the axis, inspired by ballet
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Grade Ia – Wheelchair users with severe impairments affecting all limbs and the trunk.
Grade Ib – Wheelchair users with either a severe impairment of the trunk and minimal impairment of the upper limbs or moderate impairment of the trunk, upper and lower limbs.
Grade II – Athletes with less severe physical impairments than grades Ia and Ib, who may use a wheelchair in daily life.
Grade III – Athletes whose physical impairments do not impede them from walking and visually impaired athletes.
Grade IV – Athletes with the least severe level of physical or visual impairment.
Athletes & Teams
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