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Equestrian (Horse Riding) Game: Facts, History, Rules

Are you aware of these important facts about Equestrian? Well, your answer may be negative, if it then does read the article. If your answer is in the affirmative, then for the sake of the love for the sport do read it again.

Equestrian (Horse riding) History

Equestrian was already a popular sport in the United Kingdom when it was first introduced in the 1900 Olympics in Paris, but then for the next two Olympic Games, it was not included. But since 1912 in each of the Olympics Equestrian has featured as a participating sport. There are three kinds of Equestrian events in the Olympics currently, which are Dressage, Eventing, and Jumping. There are 6 mixed events in which both man and woman can take part. In this sport, the Horse is at an equal level to the rider or in other words the athlete.

The 1924 Olympics were the first one that was held under the authority of FEI. FEI or Federation Equestre Internationale is the highest regulating authority of Equestrian.

Important Facts about Equestrian Game (horse riding)

  1. Britain is the only nation that has won at least one Gold Medal in every Olympics in Equestrian.
  2. High Jump, Long Jump, Polo, and Vaulting are no longer part of the Olympic Equestrian.
  3. The 682 BC, there used to be a four-horse chariot race was organized at the Hippodrome in Greece’s 25th Olympiad.
  4. 1900 Paris Olympics, during Equestrian events, there were more athletes than spectators in the field.
  5. Equestrian finally made its debut in the Stockholm Olympics in Sweden in 1912.
  6. In the same Olympics, jumping up to 1.10m in height was also included in Dressage.
  7. There was no medal for the dressage team till the 1928 games.
  8. FEI overlooked the Equestrian in the Olympics in 1924 for the first time ever.
  9. On their home turf, German won all the Equestrian competitions in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
  10. The oldest ever competitor to won a Dressage competition at the Olympics was Austria’s, Arthur von Pongracz. He was 72 when he won the medal in the 1936 games.
  11. The oldest woman to participate in Equestrian is Lorna Johnstone of Britain who took part in the 1972 Olympics when she was 70.
  12. Till the 1952 Olympics, only military officers participated in Equestrian.
  13. Two horses were dead in the 1968 Mexico Olympics and strict rules were laid for the health and security of horses since then there is no casualty of horses in the Olympics.
  14. In the 1956 Olympics, which were organized in Melbourne, Australia but Equestrian events were held in Stockholm in Sweden because of the strong quarantine rules in Australia.
  15. British Princess Anne was part of the British Equestrian team at the 1976 Olympic games held in Montreal, Canada.
  16. Alex Hua Tian is the first Olympic rider for China when he competed at the Beijing Olympics Equestrian.
  17. Drug rules were already applied in Equestrian events during the 1972 Munich Olympics, although no tests were taken.

Equestrian – A Sport Played by Man and Animal

Equestrian is a Latin word which has been originated from Equestrianism and it actually means riding on the horse. Equestr in Latin means a horse by the way. Equestrian is a British sport and it has been spread across the British Commonwealth nations.

Rules of Equestrian (Horse riding)

  • A horse rider as per the FEI rules must be 16 years old. All the participating horses must be at least 7 years old. There is no maximum age limit for the either of these though.
  • FEI is currently allowing horses and riders as per the quota allotment. For Jumping each National Federation is allowed to rope in a team of 4 riders out of which 1 will be kept as a reserve. 5 riders are allowed for the event team, with no reserve and 3 riders are allowed for the Dressage.
  • Drug Rules are strict as per Olympic and WADA norms and even Horses are included in it.
  • For the Olympics all the participating Horses have a must veterinary inspection before the start of the game so that they are ensured of good health and not having any danger of a disease. Special veterinary inspection can be called any time during the length of the games.

Different types of Equestrian sports

Equestrian sports include all equestrian sports disciplines (show jumping, dressage, eventing, TREC, endurance, etc.). Some, generally managed by the International Equestrian Federation, have an international scope and are represented at the Olympic Games (jumping, dressage, and eventing) and the World Equestrian Games. Others are local and practiced in certain countries or even certain regions. All equestrian disciplines can be practiced in-hand sport riding.



In jumping (or CSO to “Contest jumping”), the rider and horse jumping obstacles are built with mobile bars. Its playful and spectacular aspects as well as the simplicity of its rules make this sport attractive and largely explain its success. Showjumping is the most popular equestrian sport in the world. There are different types of obstacles such as ground bars, crosses, verticals, and oxers. In competition, the height of the obstacles is very variable.

The classification of the riders is made according to the best time made on the course but also the number of faults made. For example, the clear courses are classified first from the fastest to the slowest, then the courses with faults are classified from the fastest to the slowest. It happens that a clear round is slower than a course with a fault but it will still be classified in front. In some competitions, the riders without faults are decided in a final event called the “jump-off”. The fall of a bar or a refusal to jump the obstacle is sanctioned by 4 penalty points.


The training is theoretically the culmination of the myth of the centaur, to be one with his mount. The rider must seek harmony there with his horse, the primary goal being to make horses enjoyable in their specialty. Whatever the discipline of equestrian sport, the rider can devote himself to dressage to bond with his mount. At the highest level of competition dressage, however, drifts (rollkur) are observed. This discipline requires various figures in a straight line and diagonally, such as twists and movements of the hips or shoulders. Dressage is practiced seated and with stirrups.

Full competition

The eventing competition, or CCE, is only practiced in competition. Before 2004, it always included a dressage event, a road, a steeplechase, a cross and a horse, a specific show jumping event in its entirety. Since 2004, the road and steeplechase events have been removed from the most important international meetings and, as a consequence, are gradually disappearing from all other competitions.

Disciplines represented at the World Equestrian Games

In addition to the three disciplines already mentioned, the World Equestrian Games feature driving, endurance, reining, circle vaulting and para-equestrian dressage events, which is incidentally the only discipline represented at the Paralympic Games.


In a team, the driver drives horses harnessed to a car. In competition, the groom positions himself in the car in such a way that it remains balanced in all circumstances. Strictly speaking, it is not a horse riding discipline in the sense that the horse is not ridden, but the team is generally managed by equestrian federations.


The endurance will test the stamina of the horse over long distances up to 200 km, on varied terrain, and for certain events, with speed limits. The rider must manage the effort required of the mount over the entire distance, and the condition of the horse has checked thanks to veterinary checks, present at the start, during, and especially after the race. The rider is accompanied by assistants, who follow him during the course and find him to water the horse and water it. Since the end of the 1970s, endurance has experienced a real rise in power in European and Arab countries.

Aerobatics in a circle

Equestrian vaulting is a sport that is between horseback riding, gymnastics, and acrobatics. It consists of performing, individually or in a team, figures on a horse alongside at a constant rhythm on a circle. This discipline has the particularity of including, in addition to the rider and his mount, another equally important factor: the length.


The Reining comes from western riding. In this discipline, the rider must manage his mount, without resistance from the latter. Of Western figures are carried out and a note is then assigned to the couple horse-rider. The rider performs his demonstration by holding his reins in one hand.

Why is it called equestrian?

Equestrian is a Latin word which has been originated from Equestrianism and it actually means riding on the horse. Equestr in Latin means a horse by the way.

When was equestrian invented?

The evidence reflects that people started using horses as far back as 6000 BC. However, it is said that horseback riding may have begun around 4500 BC.


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