paralympics
Para Equestrian

Sylvia Veratti of Italy riding Zadok during the Equestrian Dressage event at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Brazil. (Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images)

What's it all about?

If you’ve spent Saturday afternoon listening to your fav tunes and daydreaming about doing a sweet dance routine with your pet dog or llama, then we have the only sport that features an animal and you need to check it out. It’s para equestrian! Here’s the lowdown.

How it's played

Things to watch for

an athlete and their horse trot by a gazebo full of judges
The judges look on as Rachel Stock of New Zealand competes in the dressage event at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. (Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Dressage
  • A type of riding or “discipline” that you will see in competition at the para equestrian events. 
  • Horse and rider move gracefully around the arena to show off a set routine of movements set to music.
a rider on their brown horse that is doing some fancy footwork
Lauren Barwick of Canada with horse Maile competes in the Paralympic Equestrian Freestyle Test at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games. (MN Chan/Getty Images)
Freestle
  • The freestyle event really lets a rider and their horse shine. 
  • The riders with the best scores from the team and individual events get to pick their own routine and set it to their own choice of music.
a rider holds short whip in their right hand as they sit astride their horse
Barbara Grassmeyer's (US) whip is attached to her wrist at the Paralympian Equestrian Team Test, Hong Kong, China, 2008. (MN Chan/Getty Images)
Whips
  • Athletes with lower body paralysis are allowed to use one or two whips to control their horse. 
  • The whips help to let the horse know what movements the rider wants the horse to make.