O is for Olympics

Equestrianism was introduced to the Summer Olympics in 1900 at the Paris Games. Horse sports such as chariot and riding races, horse high jump and horse long jump were part of the early Olympic Games. Riding was first included in the 1900 Olympics and reappeared in 1912 and every Games since. Originally in the modern Olympics, only commissioned officers were allowed to compete. Beginnings in 1952 rules were changed to allow civilians and women. Olympic equestrian events are one of two Olympic sports where women compete equally with men (sailing is the other). Danish equestrian athlete Lis Hartel became the first woman in the equestrian sports to win an Olympic medal when she won silver medals at the 1952 and 1956 Summer Olympics in dressage

As quarantine laws did not allow the entry of foreign horses into Australia because of a 6 month quarantine requirement. Equestrian events at the 1956 Melborne Olympics were held in Stockholm in June. The rest of the Games started in late November, when it is summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

The oldest woman to compete in the Olympics was British rider Lorna Johnstone, who participated in Equestrian at the 1972 Olympic Games at 70 years old and 5 days. For the men, Arthur von Pongracz of Austria competed at age 72 in Dressage in 1936, becoming one of the oldest ever competitors at the Olympics.

Canadian show jumper Ian Millar made a record-breaking 10th Olympic appearance in London 2012. He competed in the equestrian competition at every Olympics from 1972 to 2012 except for the 1980 Moscow Games that Canada boycotted. The best all-time performing equestrian athlete at the Olympic Games is German Reiner Klimke who competed between 1964–1988 winning six gold medals.

2012 was the year of the Games which saw Britain claim its biggest gold medal haul for more than a century. The equestrian events at the 2012 Olympic Games were held at GreenwhichPark and medals were awarded in three disciplines for both individual and team competitions. The three disciplines consist of showjumping, dressage and eventing. To start things rolling Great Britain captured their first Olympic showjumping gold medal in 60 years, winning a dramatic jump-off against the Netherlands.  We were the most successful nation, topping the medal table with three golds and five medals in total. GO TEAM GB!




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