Five riders will compete for Great Britain at the Games; three or four riders make up a team (four riders will compete for ParalympicsGB), with the final rider(s) riding as an individual.
Men and women compete against each other equally within their specific grades, with riders competing on their own horses.
At the Paralympic Games, all athletes compete in three dressage tests: a team test, an individual championship test and a freestyle test (where athletes choose their own routine and set it to their own choice of music).
The results of the team and individual championship tests are added together to arrive at the overall team score, with the best three scores (from a team of four) counting. Individual medals are also awarded on the merit of both the individual championship test and the freestyle test. All riders, whether competing in a team or not, may ride in the team test.
Athletes are classified according to their functional ability when mounted across five grades (Ia, Ib, II, III and IV). The grading determines the complexity of the movements riders perform with their horses during their tests, ensuring that the tests are judged on the skill of the rider, regardless of their impairment. Riders may use permitted assistive devices (called compensating aids) such as dressage whips, connecting rein bars, looped reins, and the like. Visually impaired riders are permitted to use ‘callers’ to help them navigate around the arena.
Grade Ia riders are usually wheelchair users with impairment of all four limbs. They may be able to walk, but this is usually with an unsteady gait due to difficulties with balance and trunk stability.
Grade Ib riders are similar to Grade Ia in that they are mainly wheelchair users with poor trunk balance and impairment of function in all four limbs, or no trunk balance and good upper limb function or moderate trunk balance with severe impairment of all four limbs.
**Grade II **riders are often wheelchair users. Riders in this grade can have severe impairment involving the trunk but have good or mild upper limb function, or can have severe arm impairment and slight leg impairment, or can have severe degree of impairment down one side.
**Grade III **riders are usually able to walk without support but may require a wheelchair for longer distances. Riders can have moderate unilateral impairment, moderate impairment of all four limbs, or severe arm impairment. Blind riders (B1 total loss of eye sight) compete in this category but must wear blacked-out glasses or a blindfold.
Grade IV riders have an impairment in one of two limbs or some visual impairment (partial loss of eye sight) at B2 level.
Riders with just a hearing impairment or who have a visual impairment at B3 or B4 level are not eligible to compete at a Paralympic Games in para-equestrian dressage. Riders with recovering or deteriorating conditions such as MS are eligible but must have been reclassified within six months of a World Championships or Paralympic Games to ensure their classification is correct.
Specialised equipment including prostheses is only allowed where it has been specifically approved and is written on the master list.
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