Getting started in Para Dressage

Getting started in para equestrian has never been easier! Whether you're looking for classification, competitions or regional training there is a lot for you to get involved in.


To compete in national competitions the rider must have an Eligible Impairment which must be permanent, verifiable and measurable. All para equestrian riders are required to go through the PE Classification application two-step process; where you'll be required to submit the relevant forms and medical information and if you are eligible you will then have to be physically classified through an Athlete Evaluation (physical assessment). Conducted through British Equestrian (BEF), the classification is completed by a qualified Classifier who assesses power, coordination and range of movement of the athlete. 

As result of the assessment, the rider will be awarded with a profile that will place them into one of the five Grades (I, II, III, IV or V), as follows:

Grade I Athletes in Grade I have severe impairments affecting all limbs and trunk. The Athlete usually requires the use of a wheelchair. They may be able to walk with an unsteady gait. Trunk and balance are severely impaired.
Grade II       Athletes in Grade II have either a severe impairment of the trunk and minimal impairment of the upper limbs or moderate impairment of the trunk, upper and lower limbs. Most athletes in this Grade use a wheelchair in daily life.
Grade III Athletes in Grade III have severe impairments in both lower limbs with minimal or no impairment of the trunk or moderate impairment of the upper and lower limbs and trunk. Some athletes in this Grade may use a wheelchair in daily life.
Grade IV Athletes in Grade IV have a severe impairment or deficiency of both upper limbs or a moderate impairment of all four limbs or short stature. Athletes in Grade IV are able to walk and generally do not require a wheelchair in daily life. Grade IV also includes athletes having a visual impairment equivalent to B1 with very low visual acuity and/ or no light perception.
Grade V Athletes in Grade V have a mild impairment of movement or muscle strength or a deficiency of one limb or mild deficiency of two limbs. Grade V also includes athletes with visual impairment equivalent to B2 with a higher visual acuity than visually impaired athletes competing in Grade IV and/or a visual field of less than 5 degrees radius.

Visually impaired riders

Riders with visual impairment are Classified by British Blind Sport (BBS). Visually impaired riders interested in being classified need to contact British Blind Sport and get it converted by British Equestrian (BEF) for the Para Equestrian Grade. Please note, you will need to receive a Grade B1 or B2 by BBS and have a confirmed diagnosis to get your grade converted to a PE Grade. 

Intellectual disability

Intellectual disability doesn’t currently fall into the current FEI classification guidelines.

More information on classification

Find out more on the British Equestrian website:


Want to see how classification works in Para Dressage? The BEF have put together this video to explain more:

Youth development and performance pathway

If you are interested in finding out more about the youth development and performance pathways on offer as a para dressage rider, then visit the Youth Development and Performance Pathway Handbook produced by British Equestrian below. Here you will find all of the information you need to know on the journey into the sport, the journey onto the performance pathway and the journey onto the podium:


Para Dressage membership

To enable you to access all of the support and competitions that we offer you need to become a British Dressage member. You and your horse need to be a minimum of a Club member to get started and competing in the Bronze Rider group tests. If you then wish to attend a Para Championship and/ or move up to the Silver/ Gold Rider Group tests, you and your horse would then need to upgrade to a Full (competing) membership.

Find out more about all of our membership types and member benefits below.


Competing in Para Dressage

Para dressage classes mirror the non disabled structure and are split into three sections – Bronze, Silver and Gold. There are also Para Intro Shows, created to help riders bridge the gap between RDA dressage competitions and affiliated British Dressage competitions. Visit our competitions section to find out how you can start competing with us:


Regional training

Want to meet other riders in your local area? You can get involved in one of our six regions and take part in camps, training and regional competitions. To find out what region you are in and what is available in your area take a look below, speak to your Development Officer (DO) or Regional Para Representative.