Where the most common Olympic equestrian Q gets A’d
I’ve had a lot of people (both non-riders and riders who aren’t familiar with every discipline) ask me why dressage happens twice, or if the equestrian events are over for the Olympics, since we’ve already seen dressage, cross country and show jumping. I can certainly understand the confusion, since there are a lot of shared names. The best way I can think to explain it is, it’s like a human triathlon.
In humans, the triathlon is composed of swimming, biking and running. For horses, the three phases are dressage, cross country and show jumping. Back to the humans, everyone knows that you can compete in the combined event (the triathlon) or you can find an event that only features one element of the competition (e.g. you can go run a 5K or swim the 100m Freestyle). But you may not have known that the same is true for horses (well, except for cross country, but it wouldn’t be an equine sport if there weren’t weird technicalities).
Point being, there are horses and riders who go to the Olympics to compete in eventing, which include a dressage phase, a cross country phase and a show jumping phase, and then there are other horses and riders who go to the Olympics to compete only in dressage, or only in show jumping. Those dressage-only and show-jumping-only competitions are held entirely separately of the eventing competition (just like how 100m Freestylers aren’t expected to swim their race in the midst of someone else’s triathlon swim). Here’s hoping that made sense.
For the nitty-gritty on each discipline, check out the FEI’s super helpful explanations:
To get the full Olympic schedule of equestrian events, head to London2012: