Paralympic stars and experts headline first FEI Para-Equestrian Forum

Event to take place in Essen, Germany, between 21-22 March 20 Mar 2015
Pepo Puch

Austria's Pepo Puch and Fine Feeling S claimed the top spot in grade Ib at the JYSK FEI European Para-Dressage Championships in Herning, Denmark

ⒸFEI/Kate Houghton
By Rob Howell | for the IPC

Para-equestrian sport will take centre stage this weekend (21-22 March), when experts and athletes from 22 countries will descend on Essen in Germany for the FEI’s first Para-Equestrian Forum.

The two-day event will put the spotlight on para-equestrian dressage, a mainstay of the Paralympic Movement since the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games and para-equestrian reining.

The Forum will be opened by FEI Secretary General Sabrina Zeender, Ulf Wilken, Chair of the FEI Para-Equestrian Committee and Dr Jan Holger Holtschmit, Chairman of the German National Equestrian Federation Para-Equestrian Committee.

All about the sport

The International Paralympic Committee’s Director of Media & Communications Craig Spence will discuss the promotion of para-equestrian sport, while Amanda Bond, former British Dressage Chief Executive, will update delegates on the latest developments heading into the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in her role as FEI Technical Delegate.

The journey

The London 2012 Paralympic Games marked a historical chapter for Ireland, which qualified its first team and was rewarded with a bronze medal. Damian McDonald, Secretary General of the Irish National Equestrian Federation, will take the stand with Austria’s reigning European champion and London 2012 gold and bronze medallist Pepo Puch, to explain the journey that athletes and their closest supporters experience on their way to the top.

“I think the forum demonstrates how much our sport has developed. I’m looking forward to being part of it and seeing what happens”, Puch said.

The future

The FEI became one of the first international sports governing bodies to govern and regulate global para sport alongside its seven able-bodied disciplines when para-equestrian dressage joined its ranks in 2006. The FEI now governs all international competitions for para-equestrian dressage and Para-Driving, and will be giving a demonstration of Para-Equestrian Reining at this dynamic Forum.

“We have created the FEI’s first Para-Equestrian Forum to open up discussions for everyone involved in the sport with vested interests in seeing it develop,” explained Trond Asmyr, FEI Director, Dressage and Para-Equestrian Dressage.

“Para-equestrian sport is now extremely popular in many countries around the world and at many different levels. Testament to the growth at the top echelons of the sport was last year’s record-breaking 33 nations and 100 riders and horses who competed for Para-Equestrian Dressage medals at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014.

“This Forum will bring everyone in the sport together, and will give us all a valuable opportunity to share ideas and experiences to ensure our sport continues to grow and flourish.”

"I'm really looking forward to the FEI Para-Equestrian Forum as it is important for all Paralympic sports to build on the success of London 2012 as we approach ever closer to the Rio Games," said IPC Director of Media and Communications Craig Spence.

"London 2012 provided a superb platform for all sports to raise their profile, and in Essen I will be sharing some of the IPC's key learning from the last years, whilst also outlining our vision for what lies ahead."

The full programme for the FEI Para-Equestrian Forum, which is being supported by the German Equestrian Federation and Equitana, Germany’s biggest equestrian sports fair, can be viewed at the FEI website.