London 2012: Olympic Equestrians

Victoria here, writing about two of my favorite subjects: London (or, rather, make that Greenwich) and horses.

I’m hoping that, like 2008, I will be able to watch some of the Olympic Equestrian events between July 27 and August 12.  Six sets of medals will be awarded, for individual and team accomplishments in three categories: Eventing, Dressage, and Show Jumping.  All three call for the very highest talents, training, and cooperation among horses and riders, and with the Pentathlon, they are the only Olympic sports that involves human-animal collaboration.

The venue for the Equestrian events is Greenwich Park
 on the grounds between the Queen’s House and the Greenwich Observatory, a spectacular setting just downriver from London.  This newly laid out — and temporary — facility was home to an Olympic Test Event last summer. 

An even better view (below) shows rider Karin Donckers of Belgium in the dressage competition in 2011. Does it get any more spectacular than this, London lovers?  There were some protesters, but the powers-that-be promise to return the site to its usual lawn and tree-studded parkland.

In 2008, the Olympic Equestrian  events were held far from Beijing in Hong Kong, so the competitors are pleased to be more centrally located this year.  In 2012, as in 2008, medals will be awarded in six categories, as below, listing the winners in 2008:

In Eventing, Germany won gold, Australia won silver and Great Britain bronze. For the individual medals in Eventing, riders from Germany, the USA, and Great Britain won the gold, silver and bronze medals respectively.

Zara Phillips, 2012 Team GB in Eventing
In Dressage, the team winners were Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark, while the winning individual riders were from the Netherlands, Germany for both silver and bronze.
Nicola Wilson, 2012 Team GB in Dressage
The 2008 winners in Show (or Stadium) Jumping were USA, Canada, and Norway; in the individual events, winning riders were from Canada, Sweden, and the USA. Below, Team USA with their 2008 gold medals. 
2008 Beijing (Hong Kong venue) Olympics

The Equestrian events are clustered as follows:

Eventing: Saturday 28 – Tuesday 31 July
Dressage: Thursday 2 – Thursday 9 August
Jumping: Saturday 4 – Wednesday 8 August

Eventing competitions — often called Horse Trials —  are three-day series of activities which include dressage, stadium jumping and a 5.7 kilometre cross-country course.  All three phases with the same horse and rider require a very high level of training and partnership.  2012 Team  GB members in Eventing are: William Fox-Pitt, Nicola Wilson, Mary King, Zara Phillips, and Kristina Cook. Cook won the 2008 individual bronze medal in Eventing.

Tina Cook 2012 Team GB in Eventing
William Fox-Pitt, 2012 Team GB in Eventing
Dressage movements are based on refined versions of abilities needed by war horses in combat situations.  Like the preliminary rounds of figure ska
ting or gymnastic competitions, a series of prescribed movements are performed and scored, followed by a free-style, though formal, sequence choreographed carefully and set to music. Such refined natural movements as the piaffe, passage and pirouette must be executed.  Both horse and rider need intense concentration, intimate control, and perfect harmony.
Carl Hester, 2012 Team GB in Dressage
Laura Bechtolsheimer, 2012 Team GB in Dressage
Charlotte Dujardin, 2012 Team GB in Dressage

Olympic Factoid:  At the 2012 Olympics, watch for the dressage appearance of Japan’s team member Hiroshi Hoketsu who is competing at age 71, oldest  team member in the London games.  This is, however, not the all-time oldest of Olympic competitors. Several competitors in the past in shooting competitions have been older. 
Hiroshi Hoketsu, 2012 Team Japan in Dressage

Olympic Factoid:  In the long-term medal race in Equestrian events, Germany leads with 28 gold medals, Sweden has 17 golds, France 12, USA 11, and Great Britain 6.
Olympic Factoid:  Ian Millar of Team Canada is expected to compete in a record 10th Olympics in Show Jumping.  In 2008, when he won the silver medal in Show Jumping, at 61, he was the oldest medal winner of the Beijing Olympics.

Alan Millar, 2012 Team Canada in Show Jumping

Olympic Factoid: Elizabeth “Beezie” Madden of Team USA was born in Milwaukee, WI, where I live.  You needed to know that, right???  Beezie won a bronze medal in individual Show Jumping in 2008 and was a member of both gold-medal Teams USA in 2004 and 2008.

The main website for the 2012 Olympics in London is:
For more information on the Equestrian Team GB:
NBC claims that all 32 sports, all 302 events will be shown on line and most on television, via NBC and its associated networks: MSNBC, CNBC and more.
Full details at:

Specific Equestrian coverage at:

1 thought on “London 2012: Olympic Equestrians”

  1. I cannot wait for the equestrian events. Little fact Reed Kessler is the youngest showjumper in US team history.Reed turns 18, the minimum age for showjumpers at the olympics, on 9 July 2012.

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