By Michael Pavitt

2012 London Paralympic gold medallist Pepo Puch is attending the Forum ©FEIAn inaugural Para-equestrian Forum is beginning today in Essen, with experts and athletes from 22 countries taking part in the two-day event, hosted by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI).

Among the billed attendees in the German city is FEI secretary general Sabrina Zeender, chair of the FEI Para-equestrian Committee Ulf Wilken and Dr Jan Holger, chairman of the German National Equestrian Federation's Para-equestrian Committee.

The focus throughout will be on Para-dressage and reining.

"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," said 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.

"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."

Craig Spence, the International Paralympic Committee's (IPC) Director of Media and Communications, will discuss the promotion of Para-equestrian sport, while FEI Technical Delegate Amanda Bond will update delegates on the latest developments, as the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games approach.

There were 11 Para-equestrian medal events at the London 2012 Paralmypics ©Getty ImagesThere were 11 Para-equestrian medal events at the London 2012 Paralmypics ©Getty Images

Irish National Equestrian Federation secretary general Damian McDonald will also speak, alongside London 2012 Paralympic gold and bronze medallist Pepo Puch, on the journey that athletes and their closest supporters experience on their way to the top of their sport.

"I think that the forum demonstrates how much our sport has developed," said Puch, who is also reigning European champion.

"I'm looking forward to being part of it and seeing what happens."

Para-equestrian dressage has been part of the Paralympic sport programme since its debut at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games and has been governed by the FEI from 2006.

The governing body also regulate international competitions in Para-driving, and the Forum will see them give a demonstration of Para-equestrian reining.

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