Are Horses In The Olympics

Christina Perez
• Thursday, 12 November, 2020
• 7 min read

The International Governing Body for equestrian sports is the Federation Requester Internationale (FEI). The 1924 Olympics were the first at which equestrian competitions were held under the authority of the FEI.

equestrian olympic sports horse riding horses history horseback facts illustrated
(Source: horses.about.com)


Equestrian events were first held at the 1900 Paris Olympic Games, although it did not include any of the disciplines seen today. Georges van der Pole riding Windsor Squire), while a French rider, Louis de Champsavin, on his mount Terpsichore, got the third place.

The High Jump competition resulted in a tie between French rider Dominique Hardier on Canola and Italian Gain Giorgio Trussing on Orestes, with both of their horses clearing 1.85 meters, and the bronze was given to Constant van Langendonck of Belgium, whose mount, Extra Dry, cleared 1.70 meters. However, Constant van Langendonck and Extra Dry were able to clinch the gold in the Long Jump competition, clearing a distance of 6.10 meters.

Trussing and Orestes won the silver, clearing 5.70 meters, and M. DE Belgrade of France won the bronze with the 5.30 meter jump by his mount Toll. Equestrian competition was dropped from the 1904 Olympic Games, and owed its return to Count Clarence on Rose, Master of the Horse to the King of Sweden, for bringing it back.

The 1906 IOC Congress agreed to his proposal to add dressage, evening, and show jumping to the program of the upcoming 1908 Olympic Games in London. However, due to problems with the newly formed International Horse Show Committee, they were not introduced until the 1912 Games in Stockholm and only a polo event was held in 1908.

These three disciplines would be held at every Summer Olympic Games through to the present day. Until the 1952 Summer Olympics, only commissioned military officers and “gentlemen” were permitted to compete in the Olympic equestrian disciplines, which had the effect of excluding all women and all men serving in the military but not holding officers' commissions.

olympics horse olympic equestrian london jumps ship rider horses america england fedex summer via carefully dutton phillip dozens grove pa
(Source: www.npr.org)

Since then, equestrianism has been one of the very few Olympic sports in which men and women compete with and directly against one another. In team competition, teams may have any blend of male and female competitors, and are not required to have minimum numbers of either gender; countries are free to choose the best riders, irrespective of gender.

Vaulting included both a team and an individual competition, with the entrants having to perform movements at the canter and at the halt, both with a saddle and bareback. The individual competition was again made up of competitors from only Belgium, France, and Sweden, with Belgium's M. Bucket winning gold medal, and the silver and bronze medals going respectively to France's M. Fields and M. Fine.

The dressage horse no longer has to jump, but the test on the flat has become increasingly difficult, emphasizing the giraffe and the passage. The 1912 Stockholm Olympics held the first Olympic dressage competition, featuring 21 riders from 8 countries (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States).

The difficulty was much less than it is today, similar to the USAF Fourth Level. The horse also had to demonstrate “ordinary turns,” small circles at the slow trot, 8-meter circles at the canter, figure-eights at the canter (both performing a flying change in the center, and without a flying change, the second circle being at counter canter), four or more flying changes on a straight line, turn on the haunches, and ransack.

At this time, giraffe, passage, and all other hate Cole movements were not allowed (including the airs above the ground and the Spanish Walk). Extra points could be earned if the rider rode with both reins in one hand, especially if this were performed at the canter.

equestrian jumping olympic ian millar riding olympics london horse riders star famous horses england august canada
(Source: horses.about.com)

Additionally, all dressage horses were required to jump 4 obstacles which were a maximum of 1.1 meters high, and another fence with a 3-meter spread. They were then asked to perform an “obedience test,” riding the horse near spooky objects.

Riders were required to wear informal uniform if they were military officers, or black or pink coats with silk hats if they were civilians. Horses had to be ridden in a double bridle, and martingales and bearing reins were prohibited.

17 riders from 5 countries participated in the dressage competition at the 1920 Antwerp Olympic Games. A 5-loop serpentine was introduced, to be ridden at the canter, both with flying lead changes and with counter-canter loops.

The most significant change at the 1932 Los Angeles Games was the introduction of the giraffe and passage. The test included an 8-second halt, half-turns on the haunches at the walk, riding with reins in one hand at the trot, “ordinary” and extended trot while posting, a 5-loop canter serpentine with each loop 8-meters in diameter, the canter pirouette, four-, three-, two-, and one-tempi changes, and the giraffe and passage.

Due to World War II, there was no sufficient time to prepare the dressage horses for the 1948 Games. However, half-pass, renders, canter pirouettes, and tempo changes were included, with the highest coefficient on the one-tempis.

olympics equestrian jumping horse horses london olympic ian jump millar star summer power jumper canada falls games competition hunter cross
(Source: www.rmshowjumping.com)

The top 13 of this group then goes onto the Grand Prix Freestyle (first introduced at the 1996 Olympics), which is written by each individual rider according to strict guidelines, and set to music. Day 1 was the Endurance Test, consisting of 55 km (34 mi) on roads (with a time allowed of 4 hours, giving a speed of approx.

There were significant changes in the format for the 1920 Olympics, most notable was the removal of the dressage test. Horses began on Day 1 with a 45 km roads and tracks test to be completed in 3.5 hours.

This was followed by a 5 km cross-country test, with 18 obstacles between 1.1–1.15 meters high, with a time limit of 12.5 minutes. Day 2 consisted of a second roads and tracks test that was 20 km, with a time limit of 1 hour.

The horse was then examined by a vet, and eliminated if lame or too exhausted to continue. Unlike the previous year, speed was rewarded, with riders earning 1/2-point if they rode it at 600 MPM and 1 point if it was ridden at 650 MPM (this system of bonus points was eliminated in 1971).

Riders could also wear dark or “pink” coats instead of informal uniform attire. Dressage was held over two days due to the large number of entries.

olympic jumping horses rio equestrian event olympics eventing three usa unique flying sports mark rider provides challenge usatoday today
(Source: www.usatoday.com)

The test was now required to be held in a 20×60 meter arena, and a time limit was instituted (10-minute 30 seconds maximum). There was new rule this year that required a double bridle but would not allow martingales, bandages, or bearing reins.

Riders could now wear hunt caps in addition to silk hats. Unlike today, the rider then had to complete a 2 km canter on the flat at 333 MPM (Phase E, which was abolished in 1967).

Stadium jumping rules changed to specify the course- 12 obstacles to be ridden at 375 MPM, with the competitor losing 1/2-point for every second over time. The Berlin Games saw new rules designed to help protect the horse, mostly regarding the use of performance-altering drugs, especially stimulants and sedatives.

Additionally, horses that were exhausted or lame following the endurance test were to be eliminated. Scoring of the Stadium phase was weighed to make it significantly less-important than the Endurance test.

The 1948 Games had 46 entrants, including competitors from Argentina, Portugal, and Brazil. Cross-country was shortened by 2 km and required 32–34 fences that were a maximum of 1.2 meters in height, and was to be ridden at the heightened speed of 570 MPM.

olympics equestrian gregory wathelet riding zimbio
(Source: www.zimbio.com)

However, it was not until Helena Du Point competed for the United States at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics that evening saw its first woman representing her country. The 1996 Games also provided a testing grounds for new methods of cooling the horses after cross-country, including misting fans, and added a hold during Phase C to ensure the horses were cooling properly.

These studies provided a great deal of valuable information, debunking several myths, and the results have been useful to horsemen outside evening as well. This was the first time when an extensive veterinary study was conducted in conjunction with the Games.

At the 2004 Olympics, the “short format” was introduced, removing phases A, B, and C from the endurance day. This was intended to reduce the amount of space needed to hold an Olympic-level competition, thereby helping to ensure that the sport was not ousted by the IOC from the Olympics.

Early fences were built more naturally, rather than the brightly colored poles that are today's standard. The course also included a ditch, stone wall, post-and-rail, brush, and triple-bars, and was ridden at a speed of 400 MPM.

Riders were required to wear informal uniform if the rider was an officer, a black or “pink” coat with silk hat or hunt cap if a civilian. 18 nations competed over a 17-obstacle course at the 1936 Games, and the gold and bronze medals were determined using a jump-off.

equestrian olympic olympics sports cross country jump rider course livesey alex getty fill
(Source: www.thesprucepets.com)

The course had 20 efforts, including a narrow gate, open ditch, double over, and a wall. The 1948 London Olympics had 44 riders from 15 nations competing, including for the first time Brazil, Ireland, Denmark, and Finland.

The format of today's Olympic Show Jumping competition is over 5 rounds. In addition, Rounds 2 and 3 are used for the individual competition, adding points to each rider's score.

Scoring is simpler and has changed to a penalty system, with each rider incurring “faults.” 4 faults are assessed for a knockdown or if the horse lands in the water or on its edge.

Hong Kong was chosen as the alternate site because it had high standards for quarantine of horses (due to the horse racing industry), and was therefore considered safe for the equine athletes. Additionally, there were already some existing facilities in the territory, which would reduce the cost to host the competition.

Riders are required by the FEI to be a minimum of 16 years old to participate in dressage classes and 18 for show jumping and evening due to the increased risk posed to both rider and mount. Currently, there are very strict rules regarding what drugs may be used on the equine athletes of equestrian competition.

olympics olympic modern pentathlon riding horses horse jumping games elena apparently psychologists own quel ange latvia during equestrian compete london
(Source: nymag.com)

All horses at the Olympics must undergo a veterinary inspection before the Games to ensure they are in good health and not carrying any disease. Nation 000812202428323648525660646872768084889296000408 Total Argentina (Are)––––1–––––––––1 Australia (AUS)–311–1––212–111 Austria (AUT)––1–––––1––1––––3 Belgium (Be)415––––––2–––––––12 Brazil (BRA)––––––––––111–3 Bulgaria (BUL)–––––––1––––1 Canada (CAN)–1––1–1–1––––26 Czechoslovakia (TCH)–1–––1 Chile (CHI)–2–––––––2 Denmark (DEN)–1–1–11–––1––––16 France (FRA)332123143–122–1–311–1–34 Germany (GER)43747444542 United Team of Germany (EUA)62614 Great Britain (GBR)3––11131143–33––13230 Hungary (HUN)–1––––––––1 Italy (ITA)252––––333–3–2–––––––23 Japan (JPN)–1–––––––––––––––1 Mexico (MEX)––4–––––3–––––––7 Netherlands (NED)–2421–––––––3341222 New Zealand (NZL)––12231––9 Norway (NOR)––1–––––––1 Poland (POL)121–––2––––6 Portugal (POR)1–11–––––––––––3 Romania (You)1–––12 Saudi Arabia (KSA)1––1 Soviet Union (URS)––1222–8–15 Spain (ESP)–11–––––––––––2–4 Sweden (SWE)694331343––2–1––––1141 Switzerland (SUI)21–111321–232–11–122 United States (USA)–1–1–5132–11334522435349 West Germany (FRG)4574525 Note: Dark gray squares represent years in which the NOC either did not exist or did not compete in the equestrian portion of the Olympic Games.

Event96 00 0408 12202428323648525660646872768084889296000408121620 Years High jump- X ---------------------------1 Long jump- X ---------------------------1 Vaulting, individual----- X -----------------------1 Vaulting, team----- X -----------------------1 Nation96 00 04 0812202428323648525660646872768084889296000408121620 Years Argentina (Are)3967988974514124317 Australia (AUS)447747910511148121212916 Austria (AUT)238251541425539231419 Azerbaijan (AZE)112 Belarus (BLR)13234 Belgium (Be)X418119332443186693105520 Bermuda (BER)1231111119 Bolivia (Box)1113 Brazil (BRA)6433133446911910912717 Bulgaria (BUL)23334541113111 Cambodia (CAM)21 Canada (CAN)344211111011111111610121210617 Chile (CHI)2913342141211 China (CHN)6163 Colombia (COL)4321112219 Croatia (CRO)112 Czech Republic (Cue)1153 Czechoslovakia (TCH)1199215 Denmark (DEN)4134656433347365444520 Dominican Republic (DOM)122 East Germany (GDR)772 Ecuador (ECU)1113 Egypt (Egg)331111111310 Finland (FIN)1111557214113121117 France (FRA)X4241293989877710911111214101161012925 Germany (GER)1389812161413121312912 Great Britain (GBR)3466668108101111111212151411121312922 Greece (GRE)172 Guatemala (GUA)31114 Hong Kong (HKG)312 Hungary (HUN)593488558 India (IND)41114 Iran (IRI)11 Ireland (IRL)336746445799710686918 Israel (ISR)31 Italy (ITA)X1055664677789485121478636424 Jamaica (JAM)112 Japan (JPN)4541231045761099846810920 Jordan (JOR)111115 Latvia (LAT)11 Liechtenstein (LIE)11 Luxembourg (LUX)11 Mexico (MEX)664798881256444541418 Morocco (MAR)1113 Netherlands (NED)1583953177381288881112820 Netherlands Antilles (AHO)112 New Zealand (NZL)1315866710965713 Norway (NOR)35662411141212 Pakistan (PAK)11 Palestine (PLE)11 Peru (PER)112 Philippines (PHI)1113 Poland (POL)656448114454341315 Portugal (POR)43389792315211321418 Puerto Rico (PUR)12111117 Qatar (QAT)432 Romania (You)5667716 Russia (Us)X72353558 Saudi Arabia (KSA)342445 South Africa (RSA)31124 South Korea (KOR)12710541119 Soviet Union (URS)991010101171189 Spain (ESP)46766834448813114239519 Sri Lanka (SRI)11 Sweden (SWE)17221296999910351841213911121212923 Switzerland (SUI)9964798661148871189547721 Syria (SYR)112 Chinese Taipei (TPE)112 Thailand (THA)1133 Turkey (Our)466315 Ukraine (UKR)45524 Unified Team (EUN)81 United Team of Germany (EUA)99103 United Arab Emirates (UAE)11 United Arab Republic (UAR)31 United States (USA)X4855887981010111112111212141413121312925 Uruguay (Guru)3213 Venezuela (Even)31124 Virgin Islands (ISV)11114 Yugoslavia (YUG)132 West Germany (FRG)11111111135 Zimbabwe (ZIM)11 Nations –5–1108172062117252929201827231130323530373842404350 Horse riders –37-64–126289971133112710313415815911612517913568157182215218195203193199200200 Year 96 00 04 0812202428323648525660646872768084889296000408121620 Bryant, Jennifer O. Olympic Equestrian, A Century of International Horse Sport.

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