The Olympic Equestrian Sports Explained

With only the Olympics on the news at the moment, there are many new sports to follow along. Here are 3 the official Olympic equestrian sports explained: dressage, eventing and show jumping.

Dressage is the systematic training of a horse to carry a rider with ease and grace. The first Olympic competition was in 1912, although the sport is centuries old. Five Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) judges score Olympic dressage; each sit in a different position around the area. Scores are based on the accuracy and beauty of each movement to the test and rated on a scale of 0 to 10.

Horses and riders at the Olympics games compete at the highest level of dressage recognized by the FEI. The score is based on the accuracy of the movements and artistic impression. The highest score wins.

The format of dressage are teams are made of three athletes, all of whom are also competing for individuals’ medals. Nations without a team can be represented by a single individual athlete in dressage.

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Showjumping tests the ability of the horse and rider to jump over a series of obstacles. Courses are designed with many tight turns and obstacles challenging both the mental and physical agility of the horse rider. The horse and rider teams must finish within a set time, and penalties are given for knocking down poles and other standard faults. There are 5 rounds held at the Olympics. Scores are based on the number of poles knocked down, refusals to jump and time penalties. The rider with the fewest penalties across the two final rounds wins. Ties are broken by jump-offs with penalties and the fastest times used to break the tie. Riders inspect the course before riding to plan the best strategy for jumping these very challenging courses cleanly and quickly.

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Eventing is considered the triathlon of equestrian. It is a test of versatility, skill, endurance of horse and rider. As the name suggests, three-day eventing is held over three days and consists of three disciplines: cross-country phase takes place over a course of natural and man-made obstacles. There can be up to 40-45 obstacles that horses must jump or go through over the course that is up to 6.4km long. Scores are based on refusals, coming in under or over a set time and falls of the rider.

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The format of eventing includes competitions for team and individual medals run concurrently. Each athlete, riding the same horse, performs a dressage test, a cross-country round, and a jumping round. Team medals are then awarded by adding together the scores of team members from all three phases.

Let the games begin!