Equestrian sports are a part of The Olympic Games even since 1900, although the rules and the disciplines were a lot different than what they are today. One of the interesting facts related to all the horse sports in the Olympics is that men and women compete equally, which gives something extra to the whole experience.
There are three Olympic equestrian disciplines in which people compete: Eventing, Dressage, and Jumping. Each of them has its own rules and style of riding, so let’s explain all of them in greater detail.
During the three day eventing, the horse and the rider will be tested for their dexterity, skillfulness, fearlessness, and stamina. There are three disciplines included in Eventing:
- Cross country jumping
- Stadium jumping
Some will refer to Eventing as a horse triathlon, precisely because it combines three disciplines into one. Over the course of three days, Stadium jumping, Dressage and Cross country jumping event will be held and the participants will try to win the best score. The score will be calculated according to the performance, style, obedience and of course, time.
This discipline is a rather elegant one, where the performance is evaluated according to how gracious and fluid the horse’s movements are. The rider and the horse will have to work together to demonstrate how skillful and trained the horse is.
You will be able to see the horse change the pace throughout the Dressage, go smoothly in circles and follow the lines while its mane is elegantly braided. This Olympic equestrian discipline is all about the obedience of horses and it is often compared to the ballet.
The score is based on the precision, ease, and grace of the movements. Some even attend a dressage test where they will flaunt their horses and show choreographies followed by music.
Watching the dressage is quite entertaining and amusing, as you can witness the agility and elegance of a horse at its fullest. Horses will wear a simple tack and dressage style saddles. Another peculiar thing about this discipline is the attire of the rider. They will wear a shadbelly tailcoat paired with a top hat, white elegant gloves, and breeches, contrasted with tall black boots.
This is one of the most exciting Olympic disciplines including horses. The rider with his/her horse will have to prove jumping skills by prancing through the riding ring. Many obstacles will be in the riding ring and some of them are even over 6 feet tall! Of course, completing all the preset courses is not all that easy, as there are tricky obstacles made precisely to confuse both the rider and the horse.
Scoring will depend on the time interval and on possible penalties. If the horse knocks some of the rails down, fails to perform a jump or if the rider falls, negative points will be assigned to the contestant.
It takes skill, practice and tactic to prepare for Olympic show jumping. Before the performance, the rider will inspect the course and try to predict any setbacks and find the best way to finish the course. Every jump must be calculated in order for the rider and the horse to remain in control.
Team & Individual
Each of the horse riding Olympic disciplines has a team or individual division, making it 6 equestrian events in total in the Olympic Games. Once all the scores are available, gold, silver or bronze medals will be given to the three best contestants of each of the equestrian events.