50 fun Olympic equestrian facts

  • With only 50 days to go until London 2012 kicks off, it’s time to swot up on some Olympic trivia…


    1. Britain is the only nation to have won at least one gold medal at every summer games.
    2. Former Olympic equestrian events that are no longer held include the horse high jump, horse long jump, vaulting and polo.
    3. Equestrianism at the Olympics can be traced back to 682 BC, when a four-horse chariot race was run at theHippodrome at Greece’s 25th Olympiad.
    4. More athletes than spectators attended the 1900 Paris Olympics.
    5. The 1908 Olympics had just two polo teams, England and Ireland, with the English winning gold.
    6. The sport of eventing made its Olympic debut in 1912 in Stockholm, Sweden.
    7. From 1912 the equestrian disciplines were those we know today, but there was no dressage team medal until 1928.
    8. In 1912 the dressage competition included a jumping test of four obstacles up to 1.10m in height.
    9. Modern pentathlon first appeared at the 1912 games.
    10. The 1924 Olympics were the first at which equestrian competitions were held under the authority of the FEI.
    11. Germany won all six equestrian medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
    12. In 1936 Austria’s Arthur von Pongracz competed in the dressage at the age 72, becoming one of the oldest ever competitors at the Olympics.
    13. The 1936 games were the first to be televised.
    14. The first Paralympic Games were held in London in 1948.
    15. Until the 1952 Olympics, only commissioned military officers were allowed to compete in the equestrian disciplines.
    16. Women first participated in Olympic eventing at the 1952 Helsinki Games.
    17. Danish rider Lisa Hartel won a silver medal in the dressage at the 1952 games, despite having to be lifted on and off her horse because she’d been paralysed from the waist down by polio.
    18. The 1956 Olympic equestrian events were held in Stockholm, Sweden rather than Melbourne, Australia, due to strict Australian quarantine requirements.
    19. At Rome in 1960, Australia’s Bill Roycroft broke his neck in the cross-country phase of the team eventing. But he discharged himself from hospital the next day to complete his showjumping round and help Australia claim the gold medal.
    20. After the 1968 games in Mexico City, where two horses died during the eventing, strict safety provisions were put in place. No horses have died at the Olympics since Mexico City.
    21. Drug rules for horses were bought in at the 1972 Munich Olympics, but there were no doping tests undertaken at that games.
    22. The oldest woman to compete in the Olympics to date was British dressage rider Lorna Johnstone, who participated in the 1972 games aged 70.
    23. Princess Anne was part of the British eventing team at the 1976 games in Montreal.
    24. The best all-time performing Olympic equestrian athlete (results up until 2012) is Germany’s Reiner Klimke, who competed between 1964-1988 winning six dressage gold medals.
    25. Women competed in modern pentathlon at the Olympics for the first time at Sydney in 2000, where Britain’s Stephanie Cook and Kate Allenby won gold and bronze.
    26. The 2004 Athens Paralympic Games was the first time that all riders competed on their own horses. Before that they rode borrowed horses that they “chose” via a draw.
    27. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics the equestrian events were held in Hong Kong.
    28. Canada’s Ian Millar – who won silver in the team showjumping – was the oldest medalist at the 2008 games at the age of 61.
    29. In 2008 Lee Pearson won his ninth Paralympic medal in Hong Kong.
    30. The 2008 games began at exactly 8:08:08 pm on 8/8/08 because the number eight is supposedly lucky in China.
    31. Alex Hua Tian became China’s first Olympic rider when he competed at the Beijing games in 2008.
    32. Sixty-seven-year-old Japanese dressage rider Hiroshi Hoketsu competed in his second Olympics in 2008 – 44 years after his first, as a show jumper, in Tokyo, 1964.
    33. The first South American city to host the Olympic Games will be Rio in 2016.

    London 2012

    1. There are six gold medals on offer in the equestrian sports at the 2012 games. A total of 200 athletes will compete for these.
    2. Seventy-eight riders will compete in the Paralympic equestrian competition.
    3. The Olympic flame started an 8,000 mile relay across Britain on 19 May. It will be carried by a number of equestrian names including former Olympic eventer Jane Holderness-Roddam and eventer Zara Phillips.
    4. This year London will become the first city to host the games three times, having held it in 1908, 1948 and 2012.
    5. Poland will enter an Olympic dressage team for the first time since 1980.

    The rules

    1. The minimum age for riders to compete in eventing or showjumping is 18-years-old. For dressage and para dressage it is 16-years-old.
    2. Horses competing in dressage or eventing must be a minimum of eight-years-old, six-years-old for para dressage and nine-years-old for showjumping.
    3. All competing horses must be owned by someone of the same nationality as the competitor before the end of the year prior to the games.Greenwich
    4. Greenwich Park is the oldest Royal Park in London dating back to 1433.
    5. Preparation of the Olympic equestrian site at Greenwich Park began in August 2010.
    6. The test event was held in July 2011 using a smaller cross-country course and arena than there will be this summer.
    7. Around 8,000 tons of surface are required for the arena and warm-up areas at Greenwich.
    8. The majority of the cross-country course will be portable structures.
    9. Sue Benson was chosen to design the cross-country course.
    10. Greenwich Park was made exempt from the 5 April hosepipe ban after concerns about drought conditions creating dangerously “fast going” for the cross-country. But after heavy rainfall in April and May, additional work had to be undertaken to provide firm footing for the spectators.
    11. 3,745 bales of shavings will be used during the games at Greenwich.
    12. 11,000 metres of string will line the cross-country course.

    You may like...