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Para Dressage World Championship Facts

Continuing with our blog series about the Evolution of the Equestrian World Championships, we’re diving into the history of the Para Dressage World Championships and sharing some fascinating facts and captivating rides from over the years.

Roxanne Trunnell & Fortunato H20 at Herning 2022 – Photo Credit: US Equestrian

2006

The FEI became the first international sporting federation to provide oversight to disciplines for both able-bodied and differently abled athletes when it officially recognized Para Equestrian in 2006. Athletes compete in either para driving or para dressage; the latter is the only equestrian discipline held at the Paralympics.  

2007

Just one year after recognizing this rapidly growing sport, the first FEI Para Equestrian  World Championship took place at Hartpury University and Hartpury College in southwestern England. Some 133 athletes representing 35 nations competed. The British team, long dominant within the sport, prevailed as World Champions, and along with Germany and Norway, qualified for the 2008 Beijing/Hong Kong Paralympics. 

It should be noted that World Championships have been held in para equestrian since 1994, but not under the auspices of the FEI. 

At the 2007 awards ceremony, then FEI president HRH Princess Haya stated, “the success of the first FEI Para Dressage World Championships is a testament to the strength of Para Equestrian. Although the discipline only joined the FEI in 2006, it has already become a vital and vibrant member of the FEI family. The inclusion of Para-Equestrian within the FEI has made horse sport all the richer….” 

2010 Lexington, Kentucky

Again, the British team dominated, winning the team gold and a total of 13 individual medals, six of which were gold.  

2018 Tryon, North Carolina

With several federations increasing their commitment to the development of their para-athletes, the Netherlands narrowly beat the British team, which had to settle for silver. Team USA’s Rebecca Hart, riding El Corona Texel, won the individual bronze in Grade III. 

2022 Herning, Denmark

Team USA in Herning included Beatrice de Lavalette/Sixth Sense; Rebecca Hart/El Corona Texel; Kate Shoemaker/Quiana; and Roxanne Trunnell/Fortunato H20. And boy, did this team deliver! With a team bronze medal and individual medals for Hart (bronze in Grade III) and Shoemaker (silver in Grade IV freestyle), the team also punched its ticket to the 2024 Paris Paralympics. 

How can you not be inspired by the dedication of this team—the riders themselves, and the grooms, coaches, owners, and other supporters that help our differently-abled athletes achieve this level of success? Every year, the quality of skill demonstrated in the sport of para dressage seems to grow exponentially, and these championships prove that Team USA is here to win. 

About the author
Christina Keim is a professional equestrian and writer based at Cold Moon Farm in Rochester, NH. Over the course of her career, she has worked as a barn manager, head groom, riding instructor, and collegiate equestrian team coach. In 2015, she founded Cold Moon Farm with the mission to promote sustainable living, conservation, and the highest standards of compassionate horsemanship. 

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