Horse sports like chariot races and riding competitions were part of the Olympics since the 1900s. Riding was introduced in 1900, and only commissioned officers took part. However, in 1952 the sport was opened up to civilians and women. The competition entails six equestrian events in multiple venues with three stages: eventing, dressage, and jumping, where people compete individually or as a team.
Dressage is training a horse to carry a rider with grace and ease. Dressage competitions allow competitors to showcase how well trained the horses are. They involve riding at different paces and varying speeds in the event.
Horses are also tested on their ease of movement diagonally, sideways, and in one spot. They are tested on the horse’s ability in various positions like ‘collection’ where the horse elevates its legs and back as it moves, or ‘extension’ where the horse reaches further using its legs while in an elevated posture. The scores are based on artistic impression and accuracy of movements.
This section analyses the ability of a horse to jump over various obstacles in a riding ring. They have to make 10 to 16 jumps over obstacles in a course that can be as high as two metres tall or wide. They are colourful and have many tricky turns to test both horse and rider’s mental and physical agility. There are set completion times for courses and penalties for knocking down rails.
Scoring is based on the number of jumps, touches, falls, refusals to jump, and time penalties. Riders with the least penalties win.
Three Day Eventing
Eventing assesses the skill, courage, versatility, and endurance of the horse and rider. It occurs over three days, and it covers: cross country jumping, stadium jumping, and dressage. The cross-country section occurs in a course filled with man-made and natural obstacles that can be as many as 40. Scores are based on refusals, adhering to the time set, and rider falls.