Learn Which Three Sports are Contested By Olympic Equestrians


What Are the Olympic Equestrian Sports?

Dressage, three-day eventing, and show jumping are the three Olympic equestrian sports.

The early Olympic games included horse sports like as chariot and riding races. Riding was originally included in the Olympics in 1900, and then again in 1912. Only commissioned officers were allowed to compete in the modern Olympics at first. The rules were altered in 1952 to allow citizens and women to participate. Equestrian events are one of the few Olympic sports in which women compete on an equal footing with men.

The Competition

Six Olympic equestrian competitions take place across a variety of venues:

  • Team Competition in Eventing
  • Individual Competition in Eventing
  • Team Competition, Dressage
  • Individual Dressage Competition
  • Team Competition, Jumping
  • Individual Competition in Jumping

The Fédération Equestre Internationale sets the rules for all Olympic equestrian disciplines (FEI).

What Are the Olympic Equestrian Events?


Dressage is the deliberate training of a horse to effortlessly and gracefully carry a rider. Dressage contests show how far a horse and rider duo has progressed together in their training. Throughout the test, the horse will be ridden at various paces and speeds within those paces. The horses will be asked to go in straight lines and circles in a flowing manner. The horses will also be asked to move sides, diagonally, and in position in a smooth and obedient manner. Horses can be shown in “collection,” which involves the horse moving with its back and legs elevated, and “extension,” which involves the horse reaching further with its legs while still holding its neck and back in an elevated frame. Dressage competitions at the Olympic level highlight the most sophisticated and refined riding skills. It’s sometimes referred to as the “ballet of horseback riding.”

Despite the fact that the sport has been around for centuries, the first Olympic tournament was held in 1912. Five FEI judges score Olympic dressage, each sitting in a different location around the arena. Scores are provided on a scale of 0 to 10 based on the accuracy and brightness of each needed movement of the specified test.

At the Olympics, horses and riders compete in Grand Prix dressage, the highest level of dressage recognized by the FEI. Kur, or freestyle dressage, is a choreographed dressage exam set to music. The correctness of the movements and artistic impression are used to determine the score. The player with the highest score wins.

Show Jumping

The skill of the horse and rider to jump over a series of obstacles inside a riding ring is tested in show jumping. Horses and riders will jump over a planned course of 10 to 16 jumps ranging in height and width from 6ft 6in (2m) to 6ft 6in (2m). The courses are constructed with many hard curves and colorful obstacles that test the horse and rider’s mental and physical agility. The horse and rider teams must complete the course in a certain amount of time, and penalties are assessed for knocking down rails and other errors.

The amount of jumps knocked down, falls, touches, refusals to jump, and time penalties all contribute to the final score. The cyclist who accumulates the fewest penalties is the winner. Jump-offs with penalties and the fastest times used to break ties are used to break ties. Before riding, riders inspect the course to determine the best approach for jumping these extremely difficult courses cleanly and fast.

Three Day Eventing

Eventing is a test of a horse’s and rider’s ability, versatility, courage, and endurance. Three-day eventing includes of three disciplines: cross country jumping, dressage, and stadium jumping. It is held over three days. The cross-country stage takes place on a track that includes both natural and man-made things. Over the course of up to four miles, horses may encounter up to 40 obstacles to jump or pass through. Refusals, coming in under or over a certain time, and rider falls are all factors in determining a rider’s score.

Equipment and Venues


The Olympic dressage competition takes place in a 20 x 60 meter arena. The horses are only equipped with the most basic of equipment, which is usually black in color. Bridles will be a curb bit with a bridoon at the Olympic level (sometimes called a double bridle). You can wear a basic cavesson, flash, figure-eight, or drop noseband. Dressage saddles with a straight flap and a white square saddle pad will be used. Boots and wraps are not permitted.

A shadbelly tailcoat, yellow vest, top hat, white gloves, white breeches, and black tall boots are worn by the horsemen.

Horses’ manes will be braided and sometimes bound with white tape. Tails can be braided, although they’re normally let to flow naturally to improve tail carriage.

Three Day Eventing

Dressage and jumping have similar trappings, apparel, and arena rules to these particular activities. The cross-country course is made up of jumps created out of highly sturdy natural-looking obstacles. Riders will be seen wearing team-colored jerseys and helmet covers, as well as an ASTM/SEI helmet, gloves, and a body protection during the cross-country phase. Riders wear eventing timepieces with a huge readout that keep track of their time and tell them when they’ve reached their ‘optimum time.’

The horse’s equipment will be similar to that used for jumping, with the exception that boots may be taped and shoes may have studs for added traction on tight corners. Some horses’ front legs have white-colored “leg grease” on them to assist them slide over fences.

Olympic Show Jumping

The Olympic show jumping courses will be vibrant and technical, with many twists and turns. Spread jumps, verticals, and combinations will all be included in the course design. Riders will be required to control the length of each step in order to appropriately set up for the next leap in the intervals between obstacles.

A front seat saddle is included with the tack, which provides support and security when riding over fences. White square saddle pads are utilized at the Olympic level. The variety of bridles, bits, and martingales available are somewhat unrestricted. Hackamores and bitless bridles are worn by some horses. It is permissible to use boots, wraps, and other protective gear.

Riders must wear ASTM/SEI-approved helmets, buff, tan, or white breeches, and a team blazer, which will most likely be seen.

Horses are well-kept. Tails can be braided, and manes can be pulled and braided as well.

How Do They Win?

In the dressage category, each country may have a maximum of three riders vying for individual medals. In jumping, four riders from each country may compete for individual medals, while in eventing, five riders from each country may compete for individual medals.

If there is a jump-off, the placings are determined by the fewest knock-downs, penalties, and quickest timings. The highest scores decide dressage placements, with 100 percent being the ideal score.

Medals in eventing are awarded based on the total of all phases’ scores. To determine the winning team in each event, the total scores of all team members are added together.

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