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Rio Equestrian for Dummies!

Not Own Photo, Owned by Rio 2016 Olympics

The Olympics start in just a few weeks and if you are like me, you will want to watch as much of the action as possible! However, I don’t know about you, but I find all the different qualifications and rounds a bit complicated… so here is my easy guide to Rio 2016!

Eventing 5-9th August.

Eventing is very similar to the sport we all know and love. The first 2 days are for the dressage phase. The test will be the 2008 4 star test (short.)

This is followed by the cross country phase on the 8th. The course has an optimum time of 10-11 minutes and has 40 obstacles (jumps/ditches/other scary things I don’t want to do.) The highest the jumps can be is 1.20m for a solid jump or up to 1.40m if the top of the fence is made up of brush.

Finally is the Show Jumping phase on the 9th, provided the horses pass the vet inspection. The first round is open to everyone who completes the cross country phase. This round has 11-12 fences with a maximum height of 1.25m.

After the first round of show jumping, the team medals will be decided. The three best scores from each team at the end of the phase will be added together and the lowest score wins. Eliminated riders are still included in the team if the team only has 3 riders, but they will bring a score of 1000 to the team score… which probably means they aren’t winning!

Finally is the second round of show jumping. This round will have 9 jumps at a maximum height of 1.30m. This second round is only open to the top 25 riders after the first phase of show jumping and determines the individual medals. Each nation can only have 3 combinations competing in this second show jumping phase even if all 4 are in the top 25.

Dressage 10-15th August

There are 3 tests/classes at Rio 2016. The first is the Grand Prix, which is ridden on the 10th and 11th of August. This test is ridden by everyone and determines the initial scores.

After the Grand Prix, the top 7 teams and the top 11 riders not in a team will ride the Grand Prix Special on the 12th. These scores are combined with the scores from the Grand Prix and determines the final scores for the Team Medals. As with Eventing, the top 3 scores from each team will be used and the team with the highest score wins.

Finally is the Freestyle on the 15th. Only the top 18 riders after the Grand Prix Special can move onto the Freestyle and each nation can only have 3 riders in the Freestyle. The Freestyle determines the Individual Medals and the highest score wins.

Show Jumping 14-19th August

The Show Jumping, I think is the most complicated with lots of rounds. The show jumping starts on the 14th with the first qualifying round in which everyone rides in. This round qualifies riders for the individual medals and will determine the starting order of riders for the team competition.

Next is the team round 1 on the 16th. This round is open to all the teams, but only the top 60 individual riders after the qualifying round.

The second Team round is on the 17th. This round is only open to the top 8 teams and the top 45 individuals after the first round. The scores from the best 3 riders in each team from round 1 and 2 are added together to create a final score. The team with the lowest score will win Team gold. In the case of joint scores, a jump off will take place which will only count towards the team score.

Round A is the next round for the Individual medals. It takes place on 19th August and is only open to the top 35 riders after the second team round of jumping. All riders go back to 0 penalties for this round. Only 3 riders from each nation are allowed to ride in this round.

Round B takes place after Round A and is only for the top 20 riders. If there is a draw for the top spots, a jump off will take place to determine the individual medals.


I hope that might make it a bit easier on anyone planning to watch any of the action but doesn’t usually watch big events like these where there are teams and individual competitions running simultaneously. It’s very different to watching your local show or badminton where it’s all quite straightforward!

I plan on writing about the action from the Olympics roughly as it happens as I am doing a lot of work on it already at work… So I will try and keep you all updated with my own personal commentary.

Last Updated on 22/12/2021

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