History of Equestrian
Equestrian was first included in the Olympics at the 1900 Games in Paris. Three equestrian events – show jumping, the high jump and the long jump – were contested at those Games. Organizational issues prevented the sport from being contested in 1904 or 1908, but it reappeared at the 1912 Stockholm Games. Show jumping was introduced as an individual sport in 1900 and as a team event in 1912. Dressage and eventing premiered in 1912. This is the only Olympic sport in which there is no gender distinction in any event. Men and women compete together in all six events. Women were first permitted to compete in Olympic equestrian events in 1952.
The London Olympics saw several notable records achieved in equestrian. Canada’s Ian Millar became the first athlete to appear in 10 Olympic Games. Millar made his Olympic debut as a 25-year-old at the 1972 Munich Games and says he intends to compete at the 2016 Rio Games, where he will be 69 years old. With a bronze medal in the team dressage, Dutch rider Anky van Grunsven won her ninth Olympic medal in London, becoming the most decorated equestrian in history. Van Grunsven has also won four individual dressage medals, including three straight golds between 2000 and 2008.
Royalty in the Games
Equestrian has been host to royalty at the Olympics on several occasions, most recently at the London Games. Great Britain’s Zara Phillips, who is the daughter of Princess Anne and granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II, competed in both the individual and team eventing competitions in London, claiming silver in the team competition. Phillips, who is currently 15th in the line of succession to the British throne, received her medal from her mother who also competed in equestrian at the 1976 Montreal Games. Denmark’s Princess Nathalie of Sayn-Wittgenstein also competed at the London Games in both dressage competitions. The Princess, whose mother is the younger sister of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, earned bronze in the team event at the 2008 Beijing Games. Saudi Arabia’s equestrian team also featured two royals, including Prince Abdullah al Saud, who helped the Saudi jumping team earn bronze.