Para-Dressage: American Para rider Ellie Brimmer

17 May

Getting on the U.S. Para team:

First you have to achieve a certificate of capability this is a 60% on the team or individual test at a CPEDI***

(Ellie just did this in Wellington with her newer horse, Carino H.)

This can be on any horse, but you are only allowed two horses at selection trials and they have to declared in advance.

Everyone has a blank slate going into selection trials.  Riders have to score a 65% on the team or individual test to make the short list which is 12 riders.

One of the top-placing four riders must be from Grade 1a (walk only) Grade 1b, or Grade 2  and no more than three riders can be from the same grade. In the event that the top four riders are all  from the same grade, I believe they will go down the list to the next highest ranked rider from another grade.

(Grade Ia – Walk only
Grade Ib – Walk and some trot
Grade II – Walk and more complicated trot pattern; canter in freestyle
Grade III – Walk, trot and canter
Grade IV – Walk, trot, canter including lateral work and medium paces

As can be seen from the list above, the judges have to really understand how to assess each grade, as the riders go from walk-only to near PSG in level of difficulty)

It is getting to the stage where we want to see just as much gait as the able bodied riders do, but the horses need the right temperament to be a para horse —  and I imagine the able bodied riders want something that is kind and willing as we do!

( The Para selection trials will be held at USET  headquarters in Gladstone, in June,  during the other Olympic selection trials and National Championship classes).

Judges for Para selection trials:  Carlos Lopes (POR), Ann Prain (FRA) and Marc Urban (BEL)

Ann and Carlos will both be on the judging panel at London, Marc will be the assistant TD

It is a lot to know–the different grades and the requirements,  which is why the judges have to go through additional training by the FEI to judge Para, and it is the responsibility of the classifiers to make sure each rider is placed in an appropriate grade.

( To make this clearer–

The FEI 2008 Classification Manual defines the grades as follows:

Grade Ia – Mainly wheelchair users with impairment of all 4 limbs, may be able to walk with an unsteady gait, however trunk and balance are severely impaired.
Grade Ib – Mainly wheelchair users with poor trunk balance and / or 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 4 limbs.
Grade II – Mainly wheelchair users, or those with severe locomotor impairment involving the trunk and with good to mild upper limb function, those with severe arm impairment and slight leg impairment or severe unilateral impairment.
Grade III – Usually able to walk without support. Moderate unilateral impairment, or moderate impairment in four limbs, severe arm impairment. May need a wheelchair for longer distances or due to lack of stamina. Total loss of sight in both eyes, or intellectually impaired. Blacked out glasses or blindfold must be worn by Profile 36 riders.
Grade IV – Impairment of one or two limbs or some visual impairment.)

I think the United States riders certainly have the passion and determination to make it to the top, but not yet have  the advantage of infrastructure that is a hallmark of the top-placing teams in Europe. But we are definitely getting there,and I have high hopes for our team in London!

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