About Equestrian at the Olympic and Paralympic Games

The history of equestrian sport dates back more than 2,000 years when the Greeks introduced dressage training to prepare their horses for war. It continued to develop as a military exercise through the Middle Ages, with the three-day event including dressage, cross-country and jumping tests designed to reflect the range of challenges horses faced in the army.

Equestrian was first seen in the Olympic Games in 1900 in Paris however it disappeared until 1912. It has appeared at every Summer Olympic Games since. 

Attracting participants from four to 70+ years of age, equestrian sport appeals to a huge cross section of the population.

Equestrian is one of just three Olympic sports where men and women compete against one another (the others being sailing and ‘mixed doubles’ in Badminton); it is also the only sport that involves two athletes - horse and rider.

At the Olympic Games there are three different equestrian competitions, known as disciplines, they are: Dressage, Eventing and Jumping.

At the Paralympic Games, only Dressage is contested.

Australia's history in Equestrian at the Olympic Games 

Australia first competed in Equestrian at an Olympic Games in 1956. Although the Games were hosted in Melbourne, due to quarantine the Equestrian competition was held in Stockholm, Sweden. The Australian Eventing team of  Wyatt 'Bunty' Thompson, Brian Crago, John Winchester, David Wood and Ernie Barker finished a very respectable fourth. At these Games Australia was also represented by Albert 'Bert' Jacobs in the Jumping. 

It did not take long for Australia to cement its position as a leading nation in Eventing and four years later at the Rome Olympic Games the team of Laurie Morgan, Neale Lavis, Bill Roycroft and Brian Crago famously won team gold with Morgan taking home indvidual gold and Lavis individual silver.

Since then Australia has continued to excel in Eventing at the Olympics and has won 11 Olympic medals including six gold, three silver and two bronze medals. 

Australia's Equestrian Olympic Record

Australia's history in Equestrian at the Paralympic Games

Australia first competed in Equestrian at a Paralympic Games in Atlanta 1996. During this time Australia has experienced significant success at the Paralympic Games, most notably at the Sydney 2000 Games where the medal haul consisted of two gold and two bronze medals. Most recently Joann Formosa won gold in the Grade 1B Individual Championship Test at the London Paralympic Games.

Australian Paralympic Equestrian Record

If you want to learn more ...

Read the information sheets " Our Proud Olympic History" :

Melbourne 1956

Rome 1960

Tokyo 1964 

Mexico City 1968  

Munich 1972

Montreal 1976

Los Angeles 1984 

Seoul 1988

Barcelona 1992

Atlanta 1996

Sydney 2000

Athens 2004

Beijing 2008

London 2012 

Main page image taken from: Trailblazers, Australia's first Olympic equestrians, by Wyatt Thompson.