Equestrian events have been part of the Olympic Games for almost 3000 years and they are one of the oldest events in the competition. Initially a four horse chariot race, the Equestrian events evoke images of power, beauty and skill, while the success of the competitors is largely down to the rapport between the horse and rider. There are three main components to equestrian events; dressage, show jumping and eventing that combines the two along with a cross country ride.
Dressage is easily the most beautiful to watch and sometimes is described as ‘horse ballet’. Dressage is a unique training method that aims to develop the horses natural responsiveness to the instruction of the rider, and illustrates the harmony between horse and rider. The pair perform a series of movements and are judged on the precision of the routine performed. Historically this was a technique used to train horses for war – while jumping reflected the challenges horses may face while in the army.
Show jumping is generally the most recognisable of the three equestrian events, and tends to involve horse and rider following a set route with obstacles to jump over set throughout the course. The course will vary in difficulty and length and requires agility and impeccable technique.
The cross country component is a combination of endurance and teamwork and calls for power, speed and nerve. Both horse and rider must be at their peak of physical fitness as the course is long, varied and with numerous obstacles.
Notable in the world the equestrian, events are one of the few Olympic sports that men and women compete against each other as equals. This is also the only Olympic event that puts equal emphasis on animal and person, one cannot compete without the other and the two are required to have trained together for some time to develop their skill and delicacy together as teammates.