Para Equestrian Driving - Mind Over Matter !



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The Carriage Driving Sports Group for drivers with disabilities is a registered charity (Charity Number : 1143265) and promotes the health of disabled people through the provision of training and driving opportunities in sports driving.

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National Classification


With the idea of creating opportunities for all people with disabilities to compete and achieve their goals in equestrian sport, athletes are classified according to the level of their disability/impairment so as to provide for meaningful competition.  The Classification System is designed to enable disabled drivers to compete on equal terms against each other and means that the competition within each Grade can therefore be judged on the skill of the individual turnout, regardless of their disability.  Athletes wishing to compete in Para Driving competions are required to be classified. 


 In Para Driving there are two Grades; from I, the most impaired; to II the least impaired. In order to be classified, drivers must be medically diagnosed as having a permanent, physical impairment that can be measured objectively by a Physiotherapist or medical doctor trained in the classification system.

If you require any further assistance concerning Classification please contact: Felicity Towers,

British Equestrian Federation, Equestrian Services Coordinator Email:    

Tel: 02476 698 871    

Address: Abbey Park, Stareton, Kenilworth, Warwickshire CV8 2RH

International FEI Classification - Required to compete in FEI Para-Equestrian Competition


Who can request FEI Classification?


A National Federation can lodge a request for an athlete with impairment to undergo a Classification Evaluation for the purpose of the competing in FEI Para Equestrian competition.


Eligibility Requirements


All Athletes with a disability who intend to be classified must produce a Certificate of Diagnosis stating their full medical diagnosis. Each Athlete must have an Eligible Impairment that leads to permanent and verifiable activity limitation which can be measured objectively.


Those Athletes with a minimal Impairment must meet the Para-Equestrian Minimal Impairment Criteria in order to compete in Para-Equestrian Events. Eligible impairments include:


Hypertonia, ataxia, athetosis; impaired passive range of movement; impaired muscle power; limb deficiency; leg length difference; short stature, vision impairment.  

For more details, please visit the FEI Classification page.

If you require any assistance or have any questions concerning obtaining FEI Classification please contact International FEI Contact:


What is a Profile ?

A profile identifies all areas of the body that do not function normally when assessed by the Classifier. It is this which then indicates what Grade a driver would be classed as, and also, what Compensation Aids a driver would be entitled to make use of.


What is the difference between a National grading and an International grading ?

If you hold a National grading (a National Classification and Compensation Aids Certificate), you will have been graded by one national classifier who has awarded you a profile. If you hold an International grading (FEI Classification card), you will have been graded by one international classifier (probably before the international competition that you are hoping to compete at) and you will be graded again at the International competition by the International Classifier who is in attendance at the event. You will then receive your FEI card following that. In order to obtain the card, you must be registered with the FEI as a driver.



Credit - Matt Olley

Competing as a Para competitor in mainstream competition

Para competitors have been competing in mainstream competition for many years. Para drivers often have significant mobility challenges which can compromise their ability to compete on an even playing field and in some instances this can compromise the driver’s feeling of safety and security in the box seat and can put additional responsibility on their team members, particularly the backstepper.


Many nations around the world, including Britain, Germany, Holland and USA, welcome para drivers into mainstream competition and accept the use of agreed compensation aids, just as is the case in mainstream dressage at regional, national and international level.


Para drivers are required to undertake an assessment with a registered national or international Classifier. The Classifier will give them a “profile” which then indicates their Grading according to their level of disability across all areas of the body.


Para drivers are categorised into one of two Grades: Grade 1 (which is the grade attributed to drivers with severe mobility challenges to upper and/or lower body) or Grade 2 (which is attributed to drivers with less severe mobility challenges, generally to the lower limb(s)).

The “Profile” will identify what Compensation Aids a driver is entitled to use and these are laid out by the FEI.


What are Compensation Aids ?

These are a list of approved aids which are attached to the Profile. Certain Compensation Aids are only assigned to certain Profiles – not all para drivers are automatically entitled to use all Compensation Aids.


The Compensation Aids are aids which have been considered and approved in conjunction with the Head International Classifier, the FEI Working Party for Para Drivers and then accepted as approved by FEI Council or by the National body governing your sport.



If I want to compete at Club level do I need to get classified ?

No. However, you will need to check that any club is comfortable with any special considerations you wish them to make. This is for you to discuss with each club on an ad hoc basis.


Note that if you do have a National Classification and Compensation Aids Certificate, it may well be much easier for a club to understand how they go about judging you within a mainstream class.


If I want to compete in mainstream National competition do I need to obtain FEI Classification?

No, you only need an FEI Classification if you wish to compete in an FEI International competition. International Classification can be obtained after National Classification.


RDA and British Dressage have launched a National Classification Policy for Para-equestrian which is designed to give clearer guidance and offer a more structured system in line with that used by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI). Coming into effect from January 1st 2015, a National Classification Panel has been created which will review all initial applications and offers them classification in regional days, where two classifiers will carry out assessments, or give details of a National classifier local to them to arrange and assessment. The change has come about in response to growing demand for classifications, and to ensure a more comprehensive process for assessing riders whose disability might be more complex or progressive.
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