The Rio Paralympic Equestrian competition is finished. 76 athletes competed in dressage, the only equestrian event of the Paralympics. 37% were WARHorses age 40 or older and 4 WARHorses won gold medals. Prior to the opening ceremony we shared on the WARHorse FB page a Radio Times interview with Anne Dunham the oldest rider at age 67. Rio was Anne’s 5th Paralympics – how did she do?

Anne won 3 medals! 2 silver for Grade 1a Individual and Grade 1a Freestyle and as a member of Great Britain’s team, a gold medal. Great Britain has won the gold team medal in every Paralympics since dressage was introduced in 1996. Congrats to all riders and gold medalists for each grade.

Individual Championship Test

Grade 1a – Sophie Christienson (28) GRB

Grade 1b – Pepo Puch (50) AUT

Grade II – Natasha Baker (26) GRB

Grade III – Ann Catherin Lubbe (45) NOR

Grade IV – Sophie Wells (26) GRB

Individual Musical Freestyle

Grade 1a – Sophie Christienson (28) GRB

Grade 1b – Lee Pearson (42) GRB

Grade II – Natasha Baker (26) GRB

Grade III – Sanne Voets (30) NED

Grade IV – Michele George (42) BEL



At the Paralympics athletes are classified according to their functional ability when mounted across five grades (Ia, Ib, II, III and IV). The grading determines the complexity of the movements riders perform with their horses during their tests, ensuring that the tests are judged on the skill of the rider, regardless of their impairment. Riders may use permitted assistive devices (called compensating aids) such as dressage whips, connecting rein bars, looped reins, and the like. Visually impaired riders are permitted to use ‘callers’ to help them navigate around the arena.

Grade Ia riders are usually wheelchair users with impairment of all four limbs. They may be able to walk, but this is usually with an unsteady gait due to difficulties with balance and trunk stability.

Grade Ib riders are similar to Grade Ia in that they are mainly wheelchair users with poor trunk balance and impairment of function in all four limbs, or no trunk balance and good upper limb function or moderate trunk balance with severe impairment of all four limbs.

Grade II riders are often wheelchair users. Riders in this grade can have severe impairment involving the trunk but have good or mild upper limb function, or can have severe arm impairment and slight leg impairment, or can have severe degree of impairment down one side.

Grade III riders are usually able to walk without support but may require a wheelchair for longer distances. Riders can have moderate unilateral impairment, moderate impairment of all four limbs, or severe arm impairment. Blind riders (B1 total loss of eye sight) compete in this category but must wear blacked-out glasses or a blindfold.

Grade IV riders have an impairment in one of two limbs or some visual impairment (partial loss of eye sight) at B2 level.