Equestrian at the Olympics: GB team, rules and dressage explained

Hold your horses – here's everything you need to know about equestrian before the Olympic Games kick off next week.

Equestrian Olympics guide

It’s not long now until the Tokyo Olympics begin, with the summer games kicking off next Friday after facing coronavirus-related delays.

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With over 11,000 competitors from across the world descending on the capital of Japan, there are so many sports to get through – including equestrianism, which involves a number of different, complicated disciplines.

Team GB has qualified for all three categories – Dressage, Eventing and Jumping – with Holly Smith making history as the first woman to join the jumping team in 45 years.

If you feel as though you have a bit of swotting up to do before the equestrian events start and want to wow the neigh-sayers with your knowledge of all the jockey jargon, then not to fear.

RadioTimes.com has you covered with this extensive guide to equestrian events at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

  • Viewers who are looking to watch each and every sport from theTokyo Olympics 2020, you can tune in for full coverage via online streaming platform discovery+

When is equestrian at the Olympics?

Equestrian events run between Friday 23rd July until Saturday 7th August.

It’s a long series of events, among the longest in the Games this year, with five medal days scattered throughout the tournament.

Check out our guide on how to watch Olympics 2020 or see Olympics on TV today for more details, timings, and exclusive expert analysis from some of the biggest names in world sport over the coming weeks.

Sir Chris Hoy, Beth Tweddle, Rebecca Adlington, Matthew Pinsent and Dame Jess Ennis-Hill are among the stars we have to being their esteemed opinions, so don’t miss what they have to say.

When did equestrian events become an Olympic sport?

Equestrianism was first introduced as a Summer Olympic sport at the 1900 games in Paris, and while it was removed from the list of sports for the next two competitions, it returned in 1912 and has appeared at every games since.

It wasn’t until the 1952 Summer Olympics that women and non-officers were allowed to compete in equestrian events (although women could only compete in dressage), with only men and commissioned military officers permitted to take part before then. In 1956, women could compete in Jumping and in 1964, they could take part in Eventing.

Ever since then, men and women have been able to compete against one another in equestrian events – making equestrianism one of the few Olympic sports where this is possible.

The governing body for equestrian sports at the Olympics is the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI), with the 1924 Olympics becoming the first where equestrian events were governed by the FEI.

Which Team GB athletes are in Tokyo?

Tokyo Olympics
Gareth Hughes, Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester
Getty

Team GB announced the athletes representing the UK in this year’s Summer Olympics at the beginning of July, with four riders making their Team GB debut (Fry, Collett, McEwen, Townend), while Charlotte Dujardin has the chance to become the first British woman to earn her third consecutive Olympic individual title.

While in the Jumping category, Holly Smith is the first woman to join the team in 45 years.

Dressage

  • Charlotte Dujardin (35) with Gio (10-year-old chestnut gelding)
  • Charlotte Fry (25) with Everdale (12-year-old black stallion)
  • Carl Hester (54) with En Vogue (12-year-old dark bay gelding)
  • Travelling reserve: Gareth Hughes (50) with Sintano Van Hof Olympia (11-year-old bay gelding)

Eventing

  • Laura Collett (31) with London 52 (12-year-old bay gelding)
  • Tom McEwen (30) with Toledo de Kerser (14-year-old bay gelding)
  • Oliver Townend (38) with Ballaghmor Class (14-year-old grey gelding)
  • Travelling reserve: Piggy March (40) with Brookfield Innocent (12-year-old bay gelding)

Jumping

  • Scott Brash (36) with Hello Jefferson (12-year-old bay gelding)
  • Ben Maher (38) with Explosion W (12-year-old chestnut gelding)
  • Holly Smith (38) with Denver (13-year-old bay male)
  • Travelling reserve: Harry Charles (22) with Romeo 88 (12-year-old bay gelding)

How many equestrian events are there and what are the rules?

There are three equestrian events competed in at the Olympics – dressage, eventing and show jumping.

For dressage, all competitors will be split into six groups of 10 or heats based on world rankings. The competition begins with a Grand Prix test, which will determine the winners of the team competition, with the top eight teams then taking part in the second test – the Grand Prix Special. This consists of piaffe and passage, with the team with the highest combined score winning gold.

As for the individual competition, the two best combinations from each group in the grand prix and the best six pairs qualify for the Grand Prix Freestyle, which is written by each individual rider. The winner is crowned an Olympic champion.

When it comes to eventing, teams compete in just three combinations across three days, with athletes participating in an endurance test, including roads and tracks, steeplechase and cross-country.

As for show jumping, the competitors will be taking to the tracks, consisting of 12 to 15 obstacles, including at least one double and a treble. There’ll also be a water jump on at least two days during the competition.

Read more: How to watch Olympics 2020 Opening Ceremony

Olympics equestrian schedule 2021

Tokyo Olympics
Oliver Townsend, Piggy March, Laura Collett and Tom McEwen
Getty

The equestrian competition days stretch from Friday 23rd July until Saturday 7th August, with medal events for different categories dotted throughout.

Dressage:

  • Team Medal Events – Tuesday 27th July
  • Individual Medal Events – Wednesday 28th July

Eventing:

  • Individual Medal Events – Monday 2nd August

Jumping:

  • Individual Medal Events – Wednesday 4th August
  • Team Medal Events – Saturday 7th August

How to qualify for equestrian events?

Teams in each category consist of three rider and horse pairs with one travelling reserve, while every competing country that qualified a team also gets three entries in the individual competition.

All athletes must be over the age of 18 and achieve the Minimum Eligibility Requirements, which vary for each discipline and usually include past participation in other international events like the FEI World Equestrian Games.

Team GB has qualified teams for all disciplines: Dressage, Eventing and Jumping, as well as three individuals in each category.

Read more – check out our comprehensive guides to the Olympic sports: Baseball and Softball | Canoeing | Gymnastics | Shooting | Swimming | Table Tennis | Weightlifting

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