Equestrian as a sport refers to the skill of riding, jumping and training horses and includes disciplines like dressage, show jumping and eventing.

Dressage ("training" in French) requires the progressive training of the horse to a high level of obedience. Competitive dressage has the goal of showing the horse carrying out, on request, the natural movements that it performs without thinking, while running loose.

Show jumping is a timed event judged on the ability of the horse and rider to jump over a series of obstacles, in a given order and with the fewest refusals or knockdowns of parts of the obstacles.

Eventing combines the obedience of dressage with the athletic ability of show jumping. In one phase of the event, the horses jump over fixed obstacles, such as logs, stone walls, banks, ditches, and water, trying to finish the course in the "optimum time."

Although riders can discover the physicality, intensity and excitement of these disciplines recreationally, only dressage is included in the Paralympics.

Para-Dressage is conducted under the same rules as non-disabled Dressage, but with riders divided into different classes based on the level of impairment. However, there are no differences between the horses in either sport, in terms of the way they perform. The rider and the horse should work in harmony and the performance must show lightness and rhythm.

Since becoming the fifth discipline within Equestrian Sports New Zealand in 2009, Para-Equestrian riders and competitions have increased steadily throughout New Zealand. Riders with a variety of disabilities participate in the sport, and Equestrian is one of the few sports where men and women compete against each other.