Para-Equestrian riders may compete in able-bodied competitions.
Organisers of Equine Canada sanctioned competitions must make every effort to accommodate riders with physical disabilities. It is the responsibility of competition organisers to ensure that there are no barriers to participation, to help support the growth and development of equestrian sport in Canada.
Holding Para Equestrian classes at a Dressage competition is incredibly easy and can be achieved with little effort from the organizing committee.
Para-Dressage and able-bodied dressage competitions are both governed by the rules outlined in Section E of the EC Rule book, with a few minor exceptions. The primary differences between Para-Equestrian and able bodied dressage are the classification of riders, different tests for para classes and a smaller (20x40) arena for some classes. These, along with a few other exceptions, are outlined in Section M of the Equine Canada rule book.
In order to compete at a Equine Canada Gold/Silver competitions Para-Equestrian event riders must have an EC national classification card. A Para-Equestrian Medical Form is acceptable for Bronze level competitions.
Riders are assessed by accredited ‘classifiers’ and are given a “Grade” based on their functional abilities in areas such as: muscle power, joint range, and coordination.
The classification card and medical form identifies their ‘grade’ as well as any compensating aids that the rider is permitted to use.
Para Equestrian Grades (FEI and EC)
Grade IA - walk only tests
Grade IB - walk and trot (1A & 1B may be combined when there are less than 4 entries per class)
Grade II - walk and trot
Grade III - walk, trot with lateral work and canter
Grade IV - walk, trot, and canter with lateral work
Size of Arena
Grades I – III compete in a 20m x 40m arena
Grade III- IV compete in a 20m x 60m arena (wherever possible)
Tip: Using the small arena at the end and/or beginning of the day will help keep things on schedule and limit the time needed for transitions.
Equine Canada sport licence (Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze) equal to level of competition
Athletes of all grades as well as horses may compete in a maximum of four tests per day
Competitors who use adaptive (compensating) aid (s) and are competing at the Equine Canada Bronze level must have either a Para-Equestrian Medical Form or a Para-Equestrian Canada (PEC) classification card that identifies the adaptive/compensating aid(s) that they are permitted to use in competition.
Competitors with a physical disability who use adaptive (compensating) aid(s) and are competing at the Equine Canada Silver or Gold level must have a PEC classification
Athletes must submit a copy of their PE Medical Form or PE Classification card with their entries and carry a copy with them while on competition grounds.
The organizer must notify the competition officials that there is a competitor(s) competing with adaptive aids. Stewards and Technical Delegates have the right to inspect and declare an aid unsafe for horse or athlete. The rider must be able to fall free from the horse.
Adaptive (Compensating) Aids
Adaptive (compensating) aids are used by riders to compensate for the physical or sensory limitation resulting from their impairment, thereby enabling them to ride a horse.
A full list of acceptable adaptive aids can be found here
It is the responsibility of each competitor and coach to ensure all compensating aids used in competition have been documented correctly on their Para-Equestrian Canada (PEC) classification card or Para-Equestrian Medical Form.
Are there any different specifications for the arena?
FEI PE tests must be ridden in the arena size indicated on the test paper. Athletes in Grades I-II compete in an arena twenty meters by forty meters (20mx40m). Athletes in Grade III-IV compete, wherever possible, in an arena twenty meters by sixty meters (20mx60m).
All tests for all Grades up to and including Grade 3 III are required to use the 20 x 40 arena.
Grade IV tests numbered in the 40’s and the Short Test must use the 20 x 40 arena.
All grade IV tests numbered 50 or higher plus the Team and Individual Championship tests must use the 20 x 60 arena.
The grade IV Freestyle test may use either arena.
What are the specifications for officials in Para-Equestrian?
Equine Canada competitions must use EC, USEF, or FEI Dressage or Para-Equestrian Dressage officials.
The minimum judge qualification requirement for Bronze Competitions is EC Basic. The minimum judge qualification requirement at all Silver and Gold competitions is EC Medium.
All Canadian Para-Equestrian approved officials must maintain their status with Para-Equestrian Canada as well as Dressage Canada if they wish to remain listed on the Para-Equestrian officials list.
The definition of “intermediate” is a rider who is classified but has not competed at Gold competitions in Para-Equestrian tests. All tests are to be ridden in the 20 x 40 arena.
Grade 1a FEI Gr. 1a #3
Grade 1b FEI Gr. 1b #13
Grade II FEI Gr. II #24
Grade III FEI Gr. III #34
Grade IV FEI Gr. IV #43
Intermediate riders may ride a freestyle at their classified grade
At Gold shows classified riders may ride any test at their assigned grade and/or may ride any EC test. They must follow the Section E Dressage requirements regarding their entries.
Para-equestrian competitions may use FEI tests when appropriate. There are four tests in each grade: Novice, Team, Individual Championship and Freestyle
Click here to view all FEI Para-Equestrian Dressage tests
Click here to view all Equine Canada Para-Equestrian Dressage tests.
Reining and driving are the two other disciplines that para-equestrian riders can participate in. More information about para-driving and para-reigning can be found in Section M.
If you would like additional information on offering Para Equestrian classes and/or classification please do not hesitate to contact Para-Equestrian Canada at 1-866-282-8395 Ext. 146 or e-mailing