British para dressage waltzes into new era

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  • Published: Mon, 19 Apr 2021 15:22 GMT

British Dressage is proud to launch a new series of freestyle to music tests written specifically for our bronze and silver para rider community. This remarkable step forward is key for developing athletes as they provide the foundations for international competition as well as giving riders a new aim. The tests have been developed by the BD Para Technical Committee as a bridge to the technically demanding FEI freestyle tests, which up to now, have been the only freestyle on offer.

‘I’m delighted that the determination the committee and our HQ team have enabled us to create, scrutinize, develop and release these tests, all during covid”, said Para Director Julie Frizzell.  “For some time, we’ve had an ambition to have a national freestyle test, pitched at the appropriate technical difficulty level, but now our competing community has surpassed 220 athletes, there is no better time for us to launch this superb initiative”.    

Julie credits John Robinson for his support and passion to kick start the project, “Collaborating with colleagues on the Para Dressage Committee, I was delighted to work with the support of British Dressage developing Freestyle to Music Tests for Silver and Bronze levels.  It is so richly deserved for riders at these levels, to have the opportunity to progress and the new Freestyle Tests will make this possible,” commented John.

Committee member and multi-medallist Sophie Wells also contributed by riding through all the tests at home, with her home-based clients, to make sure they ‘worked’.  Para Selector, Joyce Wood, also gave a unique perspective and was heavily involved throughout.

You can now download these tests for free from the BD website free of charge:

Access and download tests

The tests themselves are pitched at a level that combines the technical elements of the bronze and silver tests, and whilst designed to allow for some innovation in displaying ability to perform more technical movements, they also list prohibited movements to protect our bronze and silver rider groups.   Importantly, to encourage athletes to prepare for the gold test, the timings, arena size, and guidelines, mirror the FEI tests as closely as possible.  There is a BD ‘National Para Freestyle’ for each of the para grades, I to IV, but riders can opt which section they ride in, bronze or silver (subject to eligibility of course). 

Grade IV rider Joanne Dagley-Cleworth welcomed the news; “Its exciting for Paras, especially the lower grades who may now have their first chance ever to do a FSM. Its another step forward on BD's journey making sure it really is an inclusive sport enabling Bronze and Silver Para riders to have the same competition opportunity as their able-bodied counterparts. I hope riders are keen to make a floor plan and have a go. “ 

Excitingly the first opportunity to ride the National Para Freestyle test will be at the rescheduled Equissage Para Winter Championships, Myerscough 23-25 May.  Eligible riders should enter (on Horse Monkey for Myerscough) the FSM test on 24 May, and select the Gold section (the only option at this stage – the IT is being developed currently).  The Myerscough team will then allocate riders to their appropriate section, but we would ask need riders to confirm this with the office, prior to the start of their class.  There will be rosettes and special prizes for all three sections at each level.