Equestrian has been part of the Olympic program since Stockholm 1912, when 62 competitors from ten nations with 70 horses were involved. To begin with, only military officers were allowed to enter the Eventing competition; Dressage and Show Jumping were open to all, but few civilians took part.
This changed at the Helsinki 1952 Games - when women also took part for the first time. Today, Equestrian medallists come from a wide range of backgrounds and countries.
Equestrian is the only Olympic sport where man and animal are established teammates, and one of the few where men and women compete on equal terms. There are three disciplines in the equestrian events in the modern Olympics: Dressage, Jumping and Eventing (now contested over four days) with an individual and team event in each, making six events in total.
Meaning training in French, dressage demonstrates the horse’s ability to respond to the rider’s commands as it performs a series of movements in a prearranged order. Riders must memorise the moves and can’t use their voice to guide their horses. The scoring is done by judges who evaluate how well the horse executes the moves.
Consists of negotiating a series of obstacles within a set time. The fences are designed so that if the horse hits them as they jump them, part or all of the fence will knock down and the rider will be penalised with ‘faults’. Faults are also awarded if the rider does not complete the course within a set time. The winner is the rider with the fewest faults. If there is a tie, the result is decided by jumping a shortened course as fast as possible without knocking fences down.
Takes place over four days. Days one and two are Dressage, day three is Cross Country and day four is Jumping. The Dressage and Jumping phases are similar to the pure Dressage and Jumping competitions. In the Cross Country event, riders have to complete a course over natural terrain of between 5,700m and 6,840m. The course contains solid obstacles that test the nerve, boldness, scope and partnership of horse and rider; faults are awarded for refusals, run-outs and exceeding the specified optimum time. If the horse and/or rider fall they are eliminated from the competition. The winner is the team or combination that incurs the least number of penalties. The team and individual events are held at the same time, with a second jumping test to determine the final rankings for the top individual riders