The horsey events at London 2012 take place in Greenwich Park, with Olympic contests in Jumping, Eventing and Dressage (across team and individual events, with men and women competing against each other on equal terms in each) and three Dressage tests for Paralympian riders.
Eventing is the equine triathlon, comprising Dressage, Cross Country and Jumping rounds for teams and individuals, requiring masterful all-round riders.
The Eventing competition is the first equestrian event, from 28-31 July, and begins with two days of Dressage — or as we childishly like to call it, ‘horsey dancing’. In both the team and individual events there are two tests set by the judges and one freestyle test, devised by the rider and performed to music.
Day three is for the Cross Country challenge, involving 45 jumps, which should be pretty spectacular beamed to the world on telly with the vernal and historic Greenwich Park setting and Docklands looming across the river.
The grand finale on day 4 is Jumping — better known as ‘showjumping’ — which takes place in an enclosed arena with 12-14 fences and a grandstand full of excited spectators watching the riders attempt to clear all fences in the best time and trying to keep track of just who is in the running for the Eventing team and individual medals.
Dressage rounds begin on 2 August, culminating in the Freestyle final on 9 August. The Jumping competition takes place between 4-8 August.
Did you know: Entry to the various Olympic Equestrian competitions was originally limited to members of the military. However, at the Helsinki Games of 1952, the competition was broadened to include civilian riders.
Para-Dressage became an Olympic discipline in Atlanta 1996 and the British Team are undefeated in international competition. Riders must complete a team set test, an individual set test and a freestyle test. The riders compete across five classifications depending on their level of impairment. The Paralympic Dressage competition runs 30 August – 4 September with 78 athletes and their prime steeds vying for 11 medals.
Meet Lee Pearson, Team GB’s 9x Paralymic gold medallist in Para-Dressage.
And just look at this beautiful horse dance:
Want to have a go? There are plenty of places in London to learn to ride. Find British Horse Society approved centres in:
Deen City Farm (Morden)
Kentish Town City Farm
Vauxhall City Farm
Lee Valley Park
Trent Park (N14)
Aldersbrook E12 (on the edge of Epping Forest)
Photo: Piggy French and DHI Topper W during the show jumping phase of the LOCOG Greenwich Park Invitational Olympic Test Event, London, July 2011 by Nico Morgan.
We’re bringing you the Londonist lowdown on all Olympic and Paralympic sports in the run up to London 2012.