What You Need To Know: Paralympic Dressage

Aug 25, 2021 - 8:00 AM

The Tokyo Paralympic opening ceremonies have happened, and the lights are back on in Baji Koen Equestrian Park as riders from 27 countries prepare to take to the main arena for Paralympic dressage. The first jog took place Wednesday morning, and all of Team USA’s horses passed without problem. Here’s everything else you need to know to follow the action in Tokyo, which begins early Thursday morning for viewers in the United States.

All of Team USA’s horses were accepted during Wednesday’s jog up, the official start of the Paralympic dressage competition. Photos Courtesy Of USEF


MEDAL DAYS: Individual medals—Aug. 26 for Grades II, IV and V; Aug. 27 for Grades I and III; team medals—Aug. 29; freestyle medals (all grades) Aug. 30

HOW TO WATCH: NBC Paralympics Livestream (all times Eastern)

Beatrice de Lavalette and Clarc will kick off the Paralympic dressage competition. They have drawn the first slot in Grade II, the first group to compete for individual medals, and will ride at 3 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time Thursday.

• Individual Dressage (live):
Aug. 26
3 a.m. Grade II
4:50 a.m.  Grade IV
7:30 a.m. (approximately) Grade V
10 a.m. (approximately) Individual medals ceremony for all three grades

Aug. 27
3 a.m. Grade I
6:15 a.m. (approximately) Grade III
9:10 a.m. (approximately) Individual medals ceremony for both grades

• Team Test to Music (live):
Aug. 28 
3 a.m. Grade II
5:15 a.m. (approximately) Grade I
7 a.m. (approximately) Grade III

Aug. 29
5 a.m. Grade V starts
6:30 a.m. (approximately) Grade IV
7:30 a.m. Team medals ceremony

• Freestyle (live):
Aug. 30
3 a.m. Grade IV
4:15 a.m. (approximately) Grade V
5:30 a.m. (approximately) Grade III
6:45 a.m. (approximately) Grade II
8 a.m. (approximately)
9:15 a.m. Freestyle medals ceremony, all grades

Kate Shoemaker and Solitaer 40 get a few pointers from chef d’equipe Michel Assouline during the team’s last ring familiarization on Wednesday. Shoemaker, competing in Grade IV, will ride her individual test at 7:07 a.m. ET Thursday.

THE VENUE: Baji Koen Equestrian Park in Setagaya City, Tokyo.

HOW MEDALS ARE DECIDED: Three sets of medals are up for grabs in the Paralympics—individual, team and freestyle.

Unlike the three-person squads used for the Olympic equestrian events, all four of each team’s riders, as well as individual competitors—for a total of 78 horse-and-rider combinations representing 27 countries—will compete in the individual medal test, which kicks off the Games.

Athletes are classified into one of five grades—Grade I for most impaired to Grade V for least impaired—and compete against other athletes in the same grade for both individual and freestyle medals. The tests the athletes ride change from one grade to the next, involving increasingly complex movements from Grade I (walk only) to Grades IV and V (walk, trot, canter and lateral work).

Countries then will select three of their riders to compete in the team competition. Teams must comprise athletes in different grades, and the team test is set to music but is not a freestyle. Medals are determined by the best combined score among team members.

The top eight riders in each grade, based on placings from  the individual test, go on to compete in the freestyle on the final day, riding to their own individually selected music and choreography. Within certain parameters, riders can add movements to their freestyle test that are more complex than those included in the team and individual tests for their grade.

Rebecca Hart and El Corona Texel during their last pre-competition schooling session in the main arena. The Grade III pair will ride their individual test on Friday; specific ride times have not yet been announced.

WHO IS ON THE U.S. TEAM: The U.S. Para-Dressage Team will be made up of the following athletes. The three to compete in the team test will be announced after the individual medal round concludes on Aug. 27.

  • Beatrice de Lavalette (Loxahatchee, Florida), Grade II, and Clarc, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Elizabeth and Nicolas de Lavalette
  • Rebecca Hart (Loxahatchee, Florida), Grade III, and El Corona Texel, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Rowan O’Riley
  • Kate Shoemaker (Wellington, Florida), Grade IV, and Solitaer 40, a 14-year-old Hanoverian stallion owned by Kate, Craig, and Deena Shoemaker
  • Roxanne Trunnell (Royal Palm Beach, Florida), Grade I, and Dolton, a 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Flintwoode Farms LLC and Karin Flint
Roxanne Trunnell’s Dolton during Wednesday morning’s jog. The pair will compete first on Thursday in the Grade I individual test.

For a detailed schedule, with times in the local time zone, click here.

For a full list of entries by country, click here.

Read predictions from our para-dressage expert on how the Tokyo Paralympics could play out.

Solitaer 40 gives rider Kate Shoemaker a little love and slobber while waiting around at Wednesday’s jog.

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