Sports Summary

Used for many years for rehabilitation and recreation, equestrian was included in the Paralympic Games for the first time in Atlanta in 1996. It is a multi-disability sport, open to athletes with a physical impairment or a visual impairment.

Events are grouped according to their functional profiles. Individual riders compete in two Dressage events; a Championship Test of set movements and a Freestyle Test to music. The Team Test is an event for teams of three to four riders per team. Competitors are judged on their horsemanship skills as they ride using a series of commands for walk, trot and canter.

Riders may use assistive devices such as dressage crops, a connecting rein bar, rubber bands or other aids. Since 2006, the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) is the governing body for equestrian.

Get involved in Para-sport: register your interest today!


Equestrian Australia

Federation Equestre Internationale

Events & Disciplines

  • Championship test – Individual and Team
  • Freestyle test – Individual


Who is eligible for Equestrian?

Athletes with a physical impairment or vision impairment.

What are the classes?

Athletes are classified into classes depending on their functional ability.

  • Athletes with a physical impairment: Grades 1 – 5
  • Athletes with a vision impairment: Grade 4 (B1 vision classification) and Grade 5 (B2 vision classification)

How do I get a classification?

Find out more about seeking an Equestrian Classification.

Classification Masterlist:

Equestrian Australia manages the National Equestrian Classification Masterlist. This list includes athletes who have been classified as per FEI Para-Equestrian Classification Rules or Paralympics Australia/EA Classification Policy.

More info: Para-Equestrian Classification Information Sheet (updated Feb 2020)

Rules & Equipment

Rider’s Clothing

The rider’s basic items of clothing include a riding hat of international safety standard, breeches or jodhpurs, riding boots or stout riding shoes with heels and a short, dark-coloured jacket. Both male and female riders wear a shirt, a stock (hunting tie) and gloves – if possible. Spurs are optional.


The saddle was designed to help the rider maintain balance while sitting on the horse. Saddle types vary for different equestrian activities. There is an inner saddletree, which is made of steel, glass fibre or wood and the external part of the saddle is usually made of leather.  Padding is used between the inner and the external parts of the saddle. It is very important that the saddle fits the horse and the rider. Riders may not be tied to the saddle and there must be at least 3cm between any means of support and the rider’s trunk.

Bridle and Bit

The bridle and bit provides a means of contact and communication between horse and rider. Grade I and II athletes use a snaffle bit, while Grade III and IV athletes may use either a snaffle or a double bridle.

Compensating Aids

Riders have an IPEC/FEI ID card, which state their grade and the compensating aids that they may use, such as a whip instead of a leg, ladder reins, elastic bands, special stirrups, etc. A small amount of velcro may be used. Any compensating aid used must allow the rider to fall free of the horse if necessary.

Medal History

Year Gold Silver Bronze total
2012 1 0 0 1
2008 0 0 2 2
2004 0 1 1 2
2000 2 0 2 4


We encourage those wishing to explore Para-equestrian to contact their state federation in the first instance. The national federation link below provides information on the national high performance program leading to competing internationally and at the Paralympic Games.

National Federation
Organisation Website
Equestrian Australia
State Federations
State Organisation Website
NSW Equestrian NSW
NT Equestrian NT
QLD Equestrian QLD
SA Equestrian SA
TAS Equestrian TAS
VIC Equestrian VIC
WA Equestrian WA