Equestrian events date back to the tradition of the Ancient Greek Olympics more than 2,000 years ago. This summer there will be a total of 200 athletes competing in three different equestrian events including jumping, dressage and eventing, according to london2012.com, the official Olympic Games website.
Each equestrian event will feature both individual and team events, which will both take place at the same time, according to london2012.com.
Equestrian jumping will include 75 athletes competing for a total of six medals; three places for individual competitions and three for team. Athletes will speed through a short course featuring 12 to 14 jumps in the forms of parallel rails, triple bars, water jumps and simulated stone walls. There will be five rounds, the first two rounds will determine placing in the team event, with all five rounds counting toward individual event scores.
Equestrian dressing events will feature 50 athletes competing for six Olympic medals; again three for individual and three for team. Dressage was introduced during the Ancient Greek Olympics and reached its peak with the creation of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, which created the basis for modern day Olympic judging, according to Olympic.org, the official website of the Olympic movement. Dressing is scored by a panel of seven judges based on a combination of individual moves and overall routine in three Grand Prix rounds.
Equestrian Eventing will feature 75 athletes competing for a total of six medals over four days. The eventing competition consists of three parts; the first two days of the competition will include dressing competitions, the third day will consist of a cross-country test and the fourth day will feature jumping. All three events scores will be combined to decide individual and team scores.
After the creation of the modern day Olympics in 1896, equestrian events were introduced during the Paris Games in 1900 when jumping competitions made the first appearance. Equestrian dressage and eventing were added in 1912.
When equestrian events were introduced, only members of the military could compete. It wasn’t until the 1952 games in Helsinki, Finland that the competitions were opened to civilian members, according to London 2012.com.
Equestrian events are the only Olympic competitions to feature men and women competing against each other on the same playing field, at the same time, on the same terms; as well as the only event to feature any animal presence.