Since the introduction of driving trials, the sport has grown rapidly in popularity. It is a sport that has “No Limits”, catering for everyone at all levels. Many able-bodied and disabled people receive a tremendous amount of enjoyment from their contact with horses and now driving trials have become an increasingly popular sport for people challenged by disability, with competition between all abilities on a level playing field. As seen in national competition, the number of drivers with disabilities is on the increase. Not only does driving trials encourage equal competition it also provides a great adrenaline rush.

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 is the process?

  1. The para driver should contact one of the registered national classifiers (see list) to arrange for an assessment. The assessor may charge a small fee which the driver should settle directly.
  2. The national classifier will assess the driver and depending on the driver’s level of disability will award the driver with a “profile”, which grades the driver across all areas of the body. This profile will identify whether the driver falls into a Grade 1 or Grade 2 category.
  3. The driver should send a copy of the profile and grading to the BD office, where an official National Classification and Compensation Aids Certificate will be issued, listing the compensation aids which the driver is entitled to use, should they so wish.
  4. A copy of this Certificate should be sent with your entry form to any national competition and you should also bring the Certificate to the event to ensure that the secretary and judges are aware.

Frequently Asked Questions

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 an FEI Classification Card ?

No, you only need an FEI Classification Card if you wish to compete in an International competition.

What is a Grading ?

Para drivers compete as a Grade 1 or a Grade 2.

Grade 1 in general encompasses more severe disability which may have challenges with speech, upper and lower body movement. For example, a driver who has suffered a stroke and has significant mobility challenges to one arm and leg would be likely to be a Grade 1 driver. A driver who is completely paralysed and has no movement in the lower body would also be likely to be a Grade 1 driver.

Grade 2 in general encompasses less severe disability, for instance a driver who has mobility impairment but who can brace themselves through one leg. So, for example, a driver who has one below-knee lower limb amputated may be a Grade 2 driver.

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 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.

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.


   Para-Equestrian is an FEI discipline. CLICK HERE to go to their website.
 
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