Riders with a variety of disabilities participate in the grade for which they have been classified. There are five grades, Ia, Ib, II, III, IV, with grade Ia being the most impaired and grade IV the least impaired.
History of Para-Equestrian
Para-Equestrian became the fifth discipline within Equestrian Sports New Zealand in September 2009. Since then the number of Para riders and competitions available to them has steadily increased throughout New Zealand. Many area Dressage Groups around NZ include Para classes in their schedules. Island Championships and National Championships are held as well as a Para-Equestrian section in the prestigious Horse of the Year Show.
How to Take Part
In order to take part in Para-Equestrian Dressage, athletes need to first be classified according to their functional ability. After assessment they are issued with a profile and grade to ensure they are competing against those with similar disabilities. Once classified athletes will be issued with an ID card listing the Compensating Aids assigned to them. These aids are used by riders to compensate for the physical or sensory limitations resulting from their impairment. These may include the use of voice, additional whip, rein and saddle adaptations and rubber bands to hold their feet in the stirrups.
In New Zealand classification is carried out by National and International Classifier, Vicky Melville. Riders who wish to take part in International Competitions must be classified by two internationally accredited classifiers one of whom must be from a different nation to the athlete.