Olympic Equestrian Events

By Catriona Burt

The Olympic Games is where the best of the best compete to win eight Olympic gold medals and 11 Paralympic gold medals!


Joe Fargis on Touch of Class in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Fargis anchored the US team which won the Team Gold in Show Jumping, and he also won the Individual Gold for Show Jumping.
©Kathleen Fallon

The first Olympic event is DRESSAGE. Dressage is an ancient discipline that originated as a way of training war horses in Ancient Greece. The sport was finessed by the Riding School of Vienna and became part of the Olympics in 1912. It is now held over a 60m x 20m arena with seven judges and consists of both team and individual events. The team dressage events consist of Grand Prix and Grand Prix special events. Three riders from each country will compete in two tests which will count towards their team's total. After the team medals are awarded, the top 18 will qualify for the Grand Prix Freestyle individual event. The top three scorers from these events will take home the medals!

EVENTING, a challenging equestrian sport. It was originally a military sport and was introduced into the Olympics in 1912. Competitors compete over several days in three different disciplines as both teams and individuals: dressage, cross country and show jumping events.

The third Olympic sport is SHOW JUMPING. Show jumping originated from fox hunts in the 19th century and was introduced to the Olympic Games in 1912. Show jumping consists of five rounds in total; the first reduces numbers from 75 to 60 to go through to the team event. All 15 teams plus qualified individuals start the first round of the team event. Only the top eight teams and qualified individuals go through to the second round. The best three scores from each team of four decide the ultimate team placings. For the individual round the top 35 riders revert to zero penalties for the first round of the individual event. The top 20 then go forward to the second round to decide medals. In both the individual and team events if there is a tie then there will be a jump off for the medals.

There are two other equestrian sports that are worth a mention. The first is the PENTATHLON. An equestrian sport that is often overlooked but is probably one of the most challenging, the pentathlon as a sport consists of five sports: fencing, swimming, show jumping, shooting and running. The equestrian element is held after the competitors have performed fencing and a 200m swim. Athletes have to ride a course of 12 jumps on an unfamiliar horse, no easy feat for any rider, especially not one who has just swum 200m! The second is PARA-DRESSAGE, part of the Paralympics. In para-dressage each rider is classified as a particular grade (Ia, Ib, II, III or IV) depending upon their disability with grade IV being the least disabled.

Breyer has a long tradition of making portrait models of Olympic champions! Some recent Olympians in the Breyer lineup include: Sapphire, Ravel, Hickstead, Cedric and Mistral Hojris!

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