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COUNTDOWN TO RIO: SUMMER SPORTS WEEK IN REVIEW

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History

The history of Equestrian sport dates back over 2,000 years, to when the Greeks introduced Dressage training to prepare their horses for war. It continued to develop as a military exercise through the Middle Ages, with the Three Day Event - which includes Dressage, Cross Country and Show Jumping tests - designed to reflect the range of challenges horses faced in the army.

In its modern form, Equestrian owes much to its inclusion in the Olympic Games, which led to the creation of the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) in 1921. Through its development of international competitions, the FEI has helped to spread the popularity of horse sport outside its traditional army base.

Olympic History

Jumping was the first Equestrian discipline, which was included in the Paris 1900 Olympic Games. At the 1906 IOC Congress in Athens, the Count Clarence von Rosen, Master of the Horse to the King of Sweden, under the guidelines of the IOC President Pierre De Coubertin, formed a detailed proposal to include all three Equestrian disciplines in the Olympic Games.

The IOC accepted von Rosen’s proposal but it was after a 12-year interval that Jumping, together with Dressage and Eventing were included in the competition schedule of the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm. Since then, these three Olympic disciplines have been part of the Olympic Games, with minor modifications in the way they are conducted.

It is worth mentioning that, until 1952, only male riders who were cavalry officers could participate in the Eventing competition at the Olympic Games. However from 1952, under an IOC decision, these restrictions were lifted, and both men (civilians) and women were given the chance to compete. Today, Equestrian medallists come from a wide range of backgrounds and countries.

The International Equestrian Federation (Fédération Equestre Internationale – FEI), which was founded in 1921, is the governing body of the Equestrian Sport and includes 135 member countries.

Technical

Dressage tests take place in a 60m x 20m ‘all-weather’ (sand-based) arena.

Two competitions run at the same time - the Team medals are decided in two rounds and the Individual medals over three rounds.

In each round the riders have to perform a Dressage Test, made up of a series of movements to be performed by the horse.

The movements are set in a compulsory order for the first two rounds but, for the third and final round, the rider creates their own floor plan from series of compulsory movements set to music.

equipment

Rider’s Clothing

The rider’s basic items of clothing include: a Top Hat for Dressage or a Hard hat for the Jumping and cross-country events; coat, white shirt and stock (hunting tie) for gentlemen and choker for ladies (in Dressage, black or dark blue tailcoat for ladies and gentlemen); breeches; riding boots; spurs and gloves for ladies and gentlemen.

Horse’s Equipment

Saddle

The purpose of the saddle is to help the rider adjust his balance and sitting on the horse. Saddle types differ to allow and permit different Equestrian activities. The Jumping and Eventing saddle is forward cut with knee rolls for close contact while the Dressage saddle has a deeper seat and straight flaps. The saddle is made of steel, glass fibres or wood. The saddle’s exterior is mainly made of leather.

Girth

The girth holds the saddle firmly in place. It is similar to a belt.

Martingales

The purpose of the martingale is to help prevent the horse raising his head.

Bridle and Bit

The bit provides the principle means of contact and communication between horse and rider. The majority of bits rest on the mouth between the canine teeth and the grinders. There are different kinds of bits and the rider chooses accordingly to what suits the horse. The most commonly used bits are the ordinary bridoon bit (snaffle), the bridoon bit with two joints, the egg-butt bridoon bit, the pelham, the kimblewick etc.

Dressage horses use a double bridle, which consists of two bits on separate pairs of reins, a snuffle compared with a curb bit and a curb chain attached. The double bridle gives greater control to the rider.

rules

Dressage tests are performed in a sand arena of 60 x 20 m. In the Olympic Games, Dressage is concluded in three rounds (Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special and Grand Prix Freestyle). Riders strive for harmony, lightness and a free, flowing regular movement of the horse at all paces, giving the impression to both judges and audience that the horse is executing all exercises on its own.

The first round is the Grand Prix for all competitors and acts as the qualifier for the individual competition and the preliminary round for the team competition.  This takes place over two days with the number of competitors (50) involved.

The second round is the Grand Prix Special which decides the team medals and is the second individual qualifier.  The top seven teams go through with the best 11 riders not in one of the qualified teams.  This is a shorter but more intense test of ability.  A new version of the GP Special has been introduced for the 2012 Games.

The final round, the Grand Prix Freestyle, decides the individual medals and is for the top 18 combinations after round two.  This is a test of set movements which the rider devises a floor plan and sets it to suitable music.  Marks are awarded for each movement to give a technical execution percentage plus scores are awarded for artistic impression to give a final mark which is displayed as a percentage.

Team HeroesEntire Team

Raised on the Channel Island of Sark, Carl Hester first competed after taking up a job at the Fortune Centre in Hampshire before he joined Dr Wilfried Bechtolsheimer’s yard as a rider.

Hester now runs his own yard and was named as...

Laura Tomlinson started riding when she was three, concentrating on eventing before switching to dressage in her teens.

She is the youngest-ever British National champion, having won the title aged 20, and was the only member of the Lon...

Charlotte Dujardin was the youngest member of the British dressage team for London 2012 and was a member of the quartet that won European Championship gold in 2011. Her interest in dressage took her to Carl Hester, who she joined on the British...

Our Results

Total: 3 medals
  • 2 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
Melbourne 1956
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Rome 1960
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Tokyo 1964
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Mexico City 1968
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Munich 1972
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Montreal 1976
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Moscow 1980
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Los Angeles 1984
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Seoul 1988
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Barcelona 1992
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Atlanta 1996
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Sydney 2000
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Athens 2004
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Beijing 2008
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
London 2012
  • 2 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
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