Kind of sport
There are three Olympic equestrian events: jumping (Prix des Nations), military (combined competition ) and dressage.
At the Olympic jumping competition, also called the Prix des Nations of jumping, the horse and rider have to follow a particular circuit twice. On the circuit, obstacles are placed which vary in height and width. There are steep jumps, wide jumps, high jumps, combination jumps and water jumps. Penalty points are given for overturning an obstacle, the refusal of a horse to take a jump or a spill. A rider can also receive penalty points for exceeding the maximal allotted time. If participants finish with the same amount of points a barrage follows. If the barrage does not yield a clear winner, then the combination with the fastest time will win. Besides individual competitions there is also a team competition at the Olympic Games. Every country is allowed to register a team of four riders with their horses. There are two heats and the result of the weakest combination will be dropped.
This combined competition lasts several days and consists of dressage, an endurance test (cross-country) and finally jumping. The dressage and the jumping competition here have the same basic rules and scoring table as the normal dressage and jumping competitions. The endurance test consists of a long cross-country ride with difficult obstacles, which exacts a heavy price with regard to the endurance and physical strength of horse and rider. The course is marked with flags and consists of four parts: 1. A distance ride which is based on time and without obstacles. 2. A gallop-run with about eight jumps. 3. Another distance ride without obstacles. 4. A cross-country: a strenuous terrain ride on a course with several challenging obstacles.
To protect horses against excessive exhaustion, there is a obligatory ten minute rest scheduled in between the second distance ride and the cross-country.
The large all-round trial is contended at the individual as well as at the team level. The amount of points accumulated from three different trials is decisive. The gold medal winners will have the least amount of penalty points and the highest positive quantity of points. In the team competition every country with four riders (amazons) can participate. The best three of the team count for the final results of the team trials.
The dressage forms the basis of every type of horse riding. Thanks to a impeccable relationship between man and beast, the horse can follow increasingly difficult instructions from the rider. The dressage trial is performed on a square riding area of 20 by 60 metres which is out-of-doors or 20 by 40 metres which is indoors. Horse and rider perform compulsory assignments which are judged by a jury. At the Olympic Grand Prix the participating combinations, man and beast, have to perform a certain amount of movements in a prescribed order and in a predetermined time. The jury evaluates the pure execution of the tasks, the elegance of the movements, the ease and obedience of the horse and the seat and influence of the rider. Every movement has to be performed without the visible insistence of the rider and also without the help of the voice or any other sound. The winner in the individual dressage trial is the one with the highest amount of points. In case of a tie, a deciding barrage follows. The team competition has no barrage.