Are you excited for all the horse events at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio? We’re excited for them and can’t wait to watch the equestrian eventing! (Wikipedia has a handy list of who is broadcasting where over at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_2016_Summer_Olympics_broadcasters ) We’d like to take this opportunity to refresh your knowledge, or may even give you some new insights, about the Olympics and their equine events.
Eventing where and when it all began at the Olympics
It was the Paris Summer Olympics in 1900 that equestrian events were introduced and unfortunately, then disappeared again until 1912. Since 1912, equestrianism has been at every Summer Olympics. The current disciplines at the Olympics are Dressage, Eventing, and Jumping. Each has both individual and team sections. Women and men can, and do, compete together on equal terms. Did you know that these equestrian eventing disciplines alongside the horse component of the modern pentathlon are the only events that involve animals? The horse is considered as much an athlete as the rider!
Equestrian history starts more than two thousand years ago when the Greeks introduces equine training to prepare them for war. The equestrian train continued through the Middle Ages where it developed into a three-day event that included tests in dressage, cross-country riding, and jumping. The training was created to imitate the challenged a horse would face while in the army. Initially, only military personnel were allowed to participate in the equine side of the Olympics, but the program opened up to civilians at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic games.
Eventing is considered a “complete” discipline
Equine athletes get a similar treatment to human therapies, in some cases better! They train on treadmills; they get massages, acupuncture, and even physiotherapy sessions. Eventing is considered a “complete” discipline and it lasts for several days divided up into three stages; dressage, jumps, and cross-country. Cross-country consists of thirty to forty jumps over various obstacles, with obstacles such as small lakes and stone hurdles all to be completed within a time limit. The winner is the rider or team with the fewest faults at the end.
Jumping is the event that even most non-horse people know the most about. An Olympic course has ten to thirteen obstacles that challenge the equine athlete and his human partner to demonstrate strength, speed, and teamwork. If any part of an obstacle is knocked down, the pair is assigned a fault. If a horse refuses a jump, even more faults are assigned to the pair. The winner of the event is the rider or team with the fewest faults who cleared the ring in the shortest time possible.
It looks to be a very exciting Olympics this year!