Equestrian events originated in ancient Greece, where it was thought that a perfect partnership was needed if rider and horse were to survive in battle. They therefore developed Dressage as a way of training horses for war. Equestrian events appeared at the ancient Olympic Games in the form of chariot racing, which was a daring and exciting spectacle. The art of riding then fell into oblivion until its revival during the Renaissance. Dressage reached its peak with the creation of the world-famous Spanish Riding School in 1729 in Vienna.
Brief overview of the rules
Equestrian comprises three disciplines at the Games, with men and women competing on equal terms.
Riders and horses are timed as they jump over obstacles, knocking over as few as possible – with penalties for each obstacle toppled. Agility, technique and harmony between the horse and rider are essential.
Dressage is the most advanced form of horse training. The horse and rider perform artistically in a series of movements to music. Judges evaluate the ease and fluidity with which they move around the course.
The third event, eventing, resembles an equestrian triathlon. It combines the two other events, jumping and dressage, with a third – cross-country, which consists of a long course combining solid and natural obstacles, drawing on the athletes’ endurance and experience. The horse and rider with the most versatile skills win the three events.
Equestrian sports featured in the Paris 1900 Games before making their official debut at Stockholm 1912. At the Helsinki Games in 1952, women started taking part in the dressage event for the first time, which became mixed. Women were able to take part in all equestrian events in 1964, making the sport the only entirely mixed discipline at the Olympic Games. Medals are awarded to individual competitors and teams alike.
International federation : Fédération Equestre Internationale
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