The horses competing in the London 2012 modern pentathlon (11-12 August) will have undergone a demanding selection process, say organisers.

After the farcical scenes in Beijing 2008 – in which the horses refused dozens of times and several riders fell – British officials have tried to ensure this year’s showjumping will go as smoothly as possible.

Peter Hart, who is competition manager for modern pentathlon, began the selection process for suitable mounts more than two-and-a-half years ago.

“We contacted British Showjumping, put adverts in newspapers and went to our normal suppliers,” he told H&H.

“The key criterion for me was we didn’t want anything that would put in a nasty stop if the rider ‘missed’.

“We had an extremely positive reaction and I’m reall y pleased with the standard of horse we’ve got.”

Fifty-five horses were selected from a longlist of 90 at three trial days around the country earlier this year.

Polly Bursby of Chessington Equestrian Centre in Surrey is sending three, including Charlotte Steel’s Loughnatousa Romeo (pictured above).

“They are quite forgiving, as they are used to different people riding them – they all hunt with the Surrey Union and showjump in the summer,” said Ms Bursby.

The showjumping phase of modern pentathlon involves a 1.20m course. Athletes have a warm-up of just 20min and five practice jumps.

Jabeena Maslin, who runs a showjumping yard in Beaminster, Dorset, told H&H that all 18 horses she was sending were genuine and reliable schoolmasters.

“They’ve got to be,” she said. “Some athletes are very good, but some of the other nations – well, some can barely do rising trot!

“These are horses that can cope with being missed and stood off.”

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (10 August 2012)