- Horse Training

Para dressage classification guidelines spark dialogue

  • The opportunity of a return to para riders’ being allowed to compete in a better grade than the one they have been allotted is being mentioned as a part of an ongoing assessment into classification.

    Sir Lee Pearson has lengthy advocated for riders to have the selection to “compete up”, and he raised the topic once more on the World Para Dressage Championships final month (report, 18 August).

    “The able-bodied world wouldn’t be capable of inform you you’ll be able to’t do one thing these days, however I don’t know why the FEI para dressage [committee] can inform you you could’t compete towards that much less disabled particular person,” stated the grade II rider and 14-time Paralympic gold medal-winner, who competes to grand prix in able-bodied competitors.

    “You’d be taken to courtroom in the actual world when you stated, ‘No you’ll be able to’t go to work with able-bodied folks, Lee.’”

    He acknowledged the security issues, but additionally identified that it’s “not really at all times the most secure factor to remain in stroll” with the horses concerned within the sport now, including that there are “sufficient causes” for the technical committee to take a look at it.

    In 2005, the yr earlier than para dressage joined the ranks of disciplines regulated by the FEI, Lee gained two silver medals on the European Championships in Hungary with Blue Circle Boy competing in grade III (now grade IV), regardless of being formally labeled as a grade Ib (now grade II rider). The principles have since modified, which suggests riders are not allowed to compete in a better grade than the one they’ve been allotted.

    Every Paralympic sport has its personal sport-specific classification system, which is underpinned by the Worldwide Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) worldwide normal for bodily impairments.

    In para dressage, riders are allotted considered one of 5 grades relying on their bodily potential. The system is ready out by the FEI and has been adopted by British Equestrian.

    In 2019, IPC president Andrew Parsons cited enhancing classification as a “prime precedence”.

    “We can not proceed what we’ve been doing for the previous 20 years because the motion has grown and moved on lots,” he stated on the organisation’s basic meeting that yr.

    This resulted within the assessment of the 2015 IPC athlete classification code in January 2021 – an “in depth three-year course of with open session at its core” – which is in the midst of the second of its three session phases. Ultimate paperwork are set to be revealed in 2024.

    Responding to the factors raised by Lee, an IPC spokesman instructed H&H the 2015 code outlines that “athletes ought to compete within the sport class they’re allotted until a global federation offers a provision for another”.

    “Competing up a category is a subject for dialogue as a part of the continued IPC classification code assessment,” he added. “As a part of the assessment, a variety of stakeholders together with athletes, worldwide federations and classification specialists are invited to share their views by means of numerous session workouts.”

    H&H additionally put Lee’s factors to the FEI.

    An FEI spokesman instructed H&H the intention of the grading system is to “be sure that the influence of impairment is minimised and sporting excellence and technical proficiency determines which athlete or workforce is finally victorious”.

    She added: “The FEI para dressage guidelines on ‘competing in several grades’, which was amended in 2018 to adjust to the IPC 2015 athlete classification code, requires athletes to compete of their allotted grade following classification, thereby supporting the competitors construction.

    “The FEI para equestrian classification guidelines and the FEI para dressage guidelines are reviewed yearly to make sure that para equestrian sport stays aligned with the beliefs and goals of the Paralympic motion, and that our sport continues to play an important half in the way forward for the Paralympic motion.”

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