Feb 10, 2022
During a meeting in Beijing, the International Olympic Committee confirmed equestrian sports are on the initial sports program planned for Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games. Disciplines will be determined mid-2023, as well as the equestrian events and quotas.
Currently, there are three equestrian disciplines that take part in the Olympics: dressage, eventing and show jumping. Other horse sports such as chariot and riding races or polo used to be part of the early Olympic Games. Riding was introduced in the 1900 Olympics, reappearing in 1912.
At first, only commissioned officers could compete in the Olympics, but beginning 1952 the rules changed to allow civilians and women. Equestrian sports are one of the very few Olympic sports where both women and men compete in equal terms.
The Olympic equestrian disciplines are dressage, show jumping and eventing. These are governed by the rules of the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI). However, different events take place in a number of different venues:
This means that, for instance, a dressage rider can compete in both the team and individual competition.
There is a clear connection between equestrian Vaulting and gymnastics. During a performance, riders wear a one-piece garment that ends at the ankle and wrists, similar to the outfits of acrobats and gymnasts. However in vaulting, horse and rider must coordinate so the rider performs tricks while horseback riding.
Despite its evolution and increasing traction amongst the equestrian community, equestrian vaulting is not considered an Olympic discipline. It has only been contested once at the 1920 Antwerp Games.
At the time, all equestrian sports in the Olympics had a military dominance, but now vaulting has taken an artistic approach and could be seen as a horse show demonstration at both the Los Angeles Games in 1984 and the Atlanta Games of 1996. This connection amongst American venues is no coincidence, as equestrian vaulting has increased its numbers in the country.
In order to be part of the Games, the sport’s International Sports Federation (IF) must apply for admittance by filing a petition establishing the criteria for eligibility to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). In the case of equestrian sports, this role belongs to the FEI.
Then, the IOC may admit an activity into the Olympic program in three different ways: as a sport; a discipline (branch of a sport), or as an event (competition within a discipline). In the case of equestrian sports:
Rules for admittance vary slightly between sports, disciplines and events, but the intent is the same one. Once the IF has presented its petition, rules and regulations control whether the sport will be accepted as part of the Olympic Games or not.
In order for a sport to be accepted, it must be widely practiced by men in at least 75 countries and 4 continents and by women in no fewer and 40 countries and 3 continents. Moreover, it must increase the “value and appeal” of the Olympic Games, as well as retain its modern traditions. Some other rules include bans on purely “mind sports” or sports that depend on mechanical propulsion. This is why chess or automobile racing are out of the Olympics.
The universality, integrity and gender equality popularity of these disciplines have been the key requirements taken into account by the IOC to meet the evaluation criteria for the Games. The disciplines and events are in line with recommendations of the Olympic Agenda 2020+5.
Moreover, the IOC has also taken into account other requirements such as athlete safety, environmental sustainability and its repercussions in younger people. Equestrian sports meet all the desired criteria to be part of the Olympic Games.
If you want to read all news related to the Olympic Games, then access the “Olympics” section on our News to stay up to date: find out what happened during the Olympic and Paralympic equestrian competitions at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games!