Equestrian sports in the Olympics program
Competitions in equestrian sports first appeared in the Summer Olympics in 1900 in Paris and have since been included in the program of every subsequent Games, except for the Games 1904 in St. Louis and 1908 in London. Originally, the competitions were held in show jumping and shortly canceled jumps in length and height. At the Summer Olympics in Stockholm in 1912, eventing and dressage were introduced. In 2012, show jumping, dressage and eventing celebrated their 100-year anniversary in the Olympic movement.
1900, the 2nd Olympic Games, Paris (France)
Grand Prix, jumping in length and height, hunting and training competition were in the program of the Olympics 1900. The tournament was officially registered only in the 1970s of the last century, that is why the year of 1912 is considered the beginning of the Olympic equestrian sports.
1912, the 5th Olympic Games, Stockholm (Sweden)
Show jumping, dressage and eventing debuted in Stockholm and to this day they have remained firmly placed in the Olympic program. It took two years to build an equestrian complex for the Games in the Swedish city, it was the main base during the Olympic Equestrian Games in 1956 and the World Equestrian Games in 1990.
1920, the 7th Olympic Games, Antwerp (Belgium)
The World War I had just ended (in 1918) and there were serious doubts that the Olympic Games 1920 would be held. On December 3, 1919, the International Olympic Committee took the Olympic bid of Antwerp (Belgium). Such a short time did not allow the presence of representatives of certain countries at the main competition of the four years, in particular, the United States who simply could not get to Europe by the set date. The excellently prepared Swedish team collected half of the 15 awards that year thereby confirming their superiority in the sport.
Vaulting was included into the program of the Games for the first and only time.
1924, the 8th Olympic Games, Paris (France)
The dressage arena 60 x 20 meters located in the center of the huge Stade de Colombes, in more than 60 meters from the spectator stands. Five judges with their assistants were sitting together at a long table on the short side of the arena.
The winner in the individual show jumping became an officer of the Swiss Police, Lieutenant Alphonse Gemuzeus on the eight-year-old Irish breed mare Luceta bought in 1922 at the price of 48 pound sterling as unfit for military service.
The length of the eventing route was 36 kilometers.
1928, the 9th Olympic Games, Amsterdam (Holland)
By 1928, the IOC clarified the definition of "amateur". In relation to equestrian sports, an amateur was an active officer-professional or any rider dealing solely with the sports and recognized by the public authority of their country as a gentleman.
1932, the 10th Olympic Games, Los Angeles (United States)
Since the Olympics-32 was held at the peak of the Great Depression in the remote Los Angeles, the equestrian competitions, in comparison with the Games in 1928, were attended only by half the athletes from the six countries. The Japanese team arrived by ship from Yokohama directly at the port of Los Angeles. France and Sweden hired their ships to New York and then traveled across all States by train. The same way was undertaken by the Mexicans. The Dutch who sailed through the Panama Channel directly to Los Angeles remembered that the United States equestrian team had arrived by ship in Amsterdam in 1928 with their horses in good shape due to a rented treadmill wheel that had been used during the filming of Ben Gur. The Dutch constructed their own treadmill wheel and trained their horses on it during the long voyage.
The first of the famous creators of the Olympic show jumping routes was John A. Barry (competed for the United States at the Games in 1920 and 1924). The route was much harder than the one in 1928 and consisted of 18 obstacles to overcome which needed 20 jumps. The distance of the route was 1,060 meters. Neither team was able to finish the race, no team medals were awarded.
For the first time, piaffe and passage were included in dressage.
In eventing, only two teams - the United States and the Netherlands - were able to finish. The team bronze was not competed for.
1936, the 11th Olympic Games, Berlin (Germany)
The 11th Olympics were held in Berlin in 1936, three years after the Nazi regime had come to power in Germany. Unsuccessful attempts of Adolf Hitler to use sport as a proof of his theory of the superiority of the Aryan race are clearly remembered. The competitions in equestrian sports conducted in the past 5 days of the 16-day program played an important role in those monumental and politically engaged Games.
1952, 15th Olympic Games, Helsinki (Finland)
The Olympics 1952 was marked by several fundamental changes in equestrian sports. The most notable was a transfer from the military to the civilian. Women were allowed to participate in dressage; only men competed in show jumping and eventing still.
The most famous female participant in those games was a Dane, Liz Hartel. In 1944 at the age of 23 years she was struck with poliomyelitis, both of her legs below the knee were completely paralyzed. Despite the fact that she needed help to get on a horse and descend from it, Liz won the silver medal. The moment when the gold medal winner Henry St-Cyr helped her to get on the podium during the award ceremony is considered one of the most touching in the history of the Olympic movement.
1956, the 16th Olympic Games, Melbourne (Australia) / Stockholm (Sweden)
When the IOC chose the Australian Melbourne as the capital of the 16th Olympics, it failed to take into account the 6-month quarantine for horses prior to arriving in Australia. In 1953 in Canberra they held a meeting of the federal authorities where it was recommended not to modify the existing quarantine requirements. The IOC decided to move the equestrian competitions and in 1954 year it selected the Swedish Stockholm.
Although the route for show jumping was a difficult one, for the first time many agreed it was modern. There was not a single pure passing in the first heat. Hans Gunter Winkler (FRG) riding on his mare Halla did an amazing felling. The horse began to jump too early on the next-to-last obstacle and Winkler was thrown up, he managed to hang on for the ride but nevertheless strongly pulled a muscle. He knew that if he came off the last heat, the team would be disqualified. With dizziness and pain, he decided to do the heat. Halla performed the route excellently. They took gold in the individual and team standings. Later Winkler won five Olympic gold awards. He is the only one jumper who has ever been the seven-time Olympic champion and the only rider to win medals at the six different Olympics.
1960, the 17th Olympic Games, Rome (Italy)
In 1960, the Australians made a real sensation in eventing. The quartet made up of Larry Morgan, Neil Lewis, Brian Crago and Bill Roycroft dominated at the cross like never before. At the end of the day, Morgan had a significant advantage over Crago and Levis. Roycroft was not very far behind them but after a fall over cemented sewer pipes he was hospitalized with a concussion and a broken collarbone. Once a potential winner of the silver medal Crago and his horse Sabra were removed from the second veterinary tests, Australia's hopes of a team medal seemed to have disappeared. However, the 45-year-old Bill Roycroft got out of the hospital and, after passing the route in jumping, brought the Olympic gold for Australia national team.
1964, the 18th Olympic Games, Tokyo (Japan)
The Olympics-64 were the first Games in Asia. It was just the second Games after Los Angeles-1932 when most of the horses had to travel across the world. Many horses arrived by plane. Horses of the USSR national team traveled by ships and were trapped in Typhoon Wilda. For the first time, a former Olympic champion overcame obstacles and defended his title. 44-year-old Pierre d'Oriolla (France) on 9-year-old Luttere repeated his achievement of 1952. Another achievement was the first time when a woman - Lana Dupont (United States) took part in the eventing competitions.
1968, the 19th Olympic Games, Mexico City (Mexico)
The choice of Mexico City as the capital of the Games 1968 was, in some way, a challenge, since the city is located at the altitude of 2,300 meters above the sea level that means a 30% reduction of the oxygen content in the air. The horses had been recommended to undergo an adaptation period of three to four weeks. The first came the horses from the USSR, Argentina and Ireland, in mid-September. The equestrian teams of France and Germany were brought last, 20 days before the competitions. The particular interest was participation of the riders of the GDR in dressage and eventing. In 1960 and 1964 they participated in the unified national team of Germany but that year they were allowed to compete under the GDR own flag.
The time at the equestrian competitions for the first time was recorded not only by hand but with the help of electronic devices.
1972, the 20th Olympic Games, Munich (Germany)
In 1972, everyone was expecting great Olympic Games and at the beginning everything went so smoothly and seamlessly. But on September 5, 1972, the world was agog when the eight Palestinian terrorists from the paramilitary group Black September broke into the Olympic village, killing two members of the Israeli team, and took the other nine hostages. In the battle, all nine Israeli hostages, five terrorists and one police officer were killed. Holding of the Olympics was suspended for 34 hours. Contrary to the will of terrorists, the IOC urged to continue the event and the IOC President Avery Brundage proclaimed the famous phrase "The Games must go on!".
It was clear that all other details of the Games in Munich almost lost their value. Naturally, that also affected the equestrian sports. After the first day of dressage, September 5, the second half of the participants continued their performance on the 7th. On September 9, the competitions were over.
Liselotte Linzenhoff on Piaff was the 13th Olympic Champion in dressage, and the third one for Germany (after Langen in 1928 and Pollai in 1936) who was able to achieve this result, and the very first female champion.
1976, the 21st Olympic Games, Montreal (Canada)
It is all about the eventing genes... A mother Rita and a daughter Silva de Luna were both representing Guatemala. A father Bill, 61, and a son Wayne Roycroft were in the team for Australia - bronze winner.
For the first time in the Olympic history of equestrian sports, there was a disqualification for violating the anti-doping rules: San Carlos under the saddle of the Irish eventing rider Ronald Macmagon was excluded after a doping test had showed the presence of banned substances. Although the sports officials were informed about treatment of an injury sustained during shipping, the existing rules did not contain any exceptions. An automatic disqualification took place but no other penalty was applied to the athlete.
Barbara Kemp became the first female author of an eventing route at the Olympic Games.
1980, the 22nd Olympic Games, Moscow (USSR)
The Olympics in Moscow became one of the less represented in the history of the Olympic equestrian sports, largely because the United States and their allies announced a boycott of the Games. Out of the high-rated athletes, Moscow was visited only by the Austrian Elisabeth Theurer, the active European Champion, and by the national team of Italy in eventing. Elizabeth's decision to take part in the Moscow Olympics caused serious disagreement in her country, resulted in the resignation of the President of the National Federation of Equestrian Sports in Austria.
1984, the 23rd Olympic Games, Los Angeles (United States)
The 23rd Games were the first since 1896 which were financed not by the country but by sponsors, that became the model for all subsequent Olympics, especially when organizers realized that the Games could bring profit (Olympics-84 brought 223 million dollars). Those were the first Olympic Games where the equestrian competitions were held at existing equestrian facilities with professional management. In response to the boycott of the Olympics-80 by the United States, the Soviet party boycotted the Los Angeles Games.
The United States national team dominated the show jumping winning the individual and team gold. The legend of eventing, Mark Todd of New Zealand won his first Olympic award.
1988, the 24th Olympic Games, Seoul (Korea)
The Seoul Games were marked by several exceptional performances. For the first time, all three medals went to women in dressage. Reiner Klimke took his last Olympic award when West Germany won the Olympic team title. Having won 6 gold and 2 bronze medals, Klimke is the most successful rider in the Olympic history. For the second time in the 76-year history of the Olympic eventing the Champion defended his title, it was Mark Todd on his 16-year-old horse called Charisma.
1992, the 25th Olympic Games, Barcelona (Spain)
In dressage, the competition for the individual gold medal unfolded between Gigolo run by Isabel Werth and 15-year-old Rembrandt defending its title with Nicole Uphoff. The duel was won by Uphoff and Rembrandt, thereby bringing them the second Olympic gold in the individual competition. Following the two subsequent victories of Henry St. Cyr (Sweden) on two different horses in 1952 and 1956, the success was repeated by the German couple. After watching the attractive, richly decorated obstacles in Seoul, the Spaniards decided to create something new, entirely different: as a result, the two architects constructed 25 obstacles employing minimalism in color and form to demonstrate the complexity of this discipline objectively. However, this approach did not find many supporters.
1996, the 26th Olympic Games, Atlanta (USA)
At the Atlanta Games, the eventing and dressage competition format was changed significantly. After the decision of the IOC not to give two sets of medals in the same form of sports, the International Equestrian Federation decided to split the competition of eventing into the two ones: individual and team. An improved system of qualifications was introduced for the three disciplines and, for the first time, quotas were established.
Heat and humidity expected in Atlanta during the Games led to the need for research and action to protect the health of the horses. According to the results of the studies, it was announced that the horses had to undergo three-week acclimatization: 7 days - to recover after the transportation, 14 days to acclimate to the new conditions. The main measure taken was the widespread installation of fans.
The course designer of the show jumping competitions was Linda Allen who became the first woman to be awarded such an honor.
In 1996, para-equestrian dressage was included in the Paralympic Games program for the first time.
2000, the 27th Olympic Games, Sydney (Australia)
44 years after the Melbourne of 1956 when importing of horses in Australia was banned, the Australian Quarantine Service was much more hospitable. However, the conditions were very strict: two-week quarantine in Europe, and the same period in quarantine was required upon arrival in Sydney.
Of the 15 horses, 12 medalists were thoroughbred horses and the other three also had 7/8 blood of the thoroughbred riding breed.
The Olympics-2000 were the last Olympics for the two legendary dressage horses: Gigolo (Isabell Wert, Germany) and Bonfire (Ankie van Grunsven, Holland), the second of which won the top award.
The Australian team won a third consecutive Olympic title in eventing.
2004, the 28th Olympic Games, Athens (Greece)
In 2004, the Games returned to Greece, the birthplace of the Olympics.
The equestrian competitions were marred by several doping scandals. A doping test of Waterford Crystal managed by the Olympic champion Cian O'Connor, was found positive for a prohibited substance, usually prescribed for people but not allowed to use for horses. After lengthy legal procedures, O'Connor was disqualified from the competition and subjected to additional sanctions. The gold medal went to Rodrigo Pessoa (Brazil). Doping tests of three more horses came positive. As a result, the German show jumping team was stripped of the Olympic gold, which was transferred to the United States national team in February of the next year.
At these Games, the new format of the show jumping competition in eventing was introduced. It implied the passage of two heats - one in the team classification, the second, in the individual classification. In addition, phases A and C and steeplechase were cancelled.
2008, the 29th Olympic Games, Beijing (China) / Hong Kong
For the second time in the Olympic history, the competitions in the equestrian sports were held separately from the other sports. Due to the fact that China had no zones free of diseases (quarantine zones) recognized by the Worldwide Fund for Nature, the equestrian events were held in Hong Kong located 200 km away from the capital of China. To protect the health of horses in the conditions of high humidity and intense heat, the International Equestrian Federation conducted a comprehensive review of the problem and attracted the best specialists. The competition schedule was prepared in such a way as to avoid holding the tournament in extreme weather conditions, and the horses were placed in specially ventilated stables.
Six horses, five of which were show jumpers, failed doping tests. As a result, Norway lost its first Olympic medal in show jumping - bronze - which went to the team of Switzerland after more than two years of court proceedings. The United States national team won the team competition of overcoming obstacles.
Ankie van Grunsven on Salinero won their won their seventh and eighth Olympic medal in dressage - a silver and a gold.
2012, 30th Olympic Games, London (United Kingdom)
The equestrian competitions at the Summer Olympics 2012 were held from July 28 to August 9. The 6 sets of medals were drawn. Traditionally, riders identified their champions in the individual and team eventing, individual and team show jumping, and individual and team dressage. In all types of the competitions, women were able to participate on equal footing with men.
In the individual dressage, a woman won the gold on her 7th Olympics in a row, the last time a man became the Olympic champion in this discipline was in 1984 in Los Angeles when it happened to the famous German Reiner Klimke.
Ankie van Grunsven from the Netherlands won the bronze medal in the team dressage and brought the number of her Olympic medals up to 9, previously no rider in the history of the Olympic Games had managed to do the same.
The representatives of Saudi Arabia won a bronze medal in the team show jumping, won their second award in the history of the equestrian sports and third in all sports at the Olympics.
Source: FEI Focus