Horse Sport Ireland
1st Floor, Beech House
Tel: (+353 45) 850800
Fax: (+353 45) 850850
Contact: Mr. Damian McDonald
Jumping was the first Equestrian discipline, which was included in the Paris 1900 Olympic Games. In 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 men riders who were cavalry officers could participate in the Olympic Games. Starting from 1952, under an IOC decision, these restrictions were lifted, and both men (civilians) and women were given the chance to compete in the three Olympic disciplines, under common rules of evaluation and marking.
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.
The Equestrian disciplines are unique among Olympic sports, in the sense that men and women compete on the same terms and horse and rider are both declared Olympic medal winners.
At Olympic Games, the horses must be the same nationality as the riders and each horse must be at least seven years old and have (as well as the rider) a certificate indicating experience in top international competition.
Rider and horse are considered a team. Years of systematic efforts are required for the team to be able to perform adequately various exercises of skill, speed, endurance, and jumping of obstacles.
Dressage is the harmonious development of the physique and ability of the horse together with the rider’s perfect guidance and control. Together, horse and rider perform a set of specific movements and are judged on their performance for their quality and for their overall aspect of the test.
Dressage is often compared to ballet, due to the skill and mastery it requires from both rider and horse in order to execute all exercises.
Eventing is a combination of Dressage, Jumping and cross-country tests and is the most complex of the three Olympic Equestrian disciplines. The rider has to ride the same horse for three days, participating at the following three events.
In Show Jumping, the rider’s horsemanship and the horse’s freedom, energy, skill and obedience are tested over a series of about 15 obstacles, including parallel rails, triple bars, water jumps and simulated stone walls within a specified time period. Their aim is to perform a ‘clear’ round, avoiding penalty points due to a fence knock-down, a refusal or passing of the designated time to complete the course.