Equestrian competition at the 2012 London Olympic games begins on July 28. There are six medal events, in three distinct disciplines. The first discipline to compete for the medals will be team and individual eventing. The medal rounds for both eventing competitions will take place on August 9. Dressage competition will begin on August 2 and stadium jumping will begin on August 4. The medal round for team dressage will be August 7 and individual medals will be awarded August 9. The medal round for team stadium jumping will be August 6 and the individual medals will be awarded on August 8, 2012.
Another sport that will be contested which includes riding will be Modern Pentathlon. Modern Pentathlon includes fencing, swimming, stadium jumping, shooting and running. Modern Pentathlon will be contested on August 11 and 12. First introduced as an Olympic sport in 1912, Modern Pentathlon was designed to test the challenge an athlete mentally and physically and has its roots in military training. A new, environmentally friendly twist in the competition are the laser pistols that will be used for the first time at this event. The competition is held on one day, and the riding course is comprised of twelve obstacles, and points are lost for falls, knock downs and time penalties. In addition to the challenges faced in stadium jumping, riders must ride a horse they are not familiar with, chosen by draw minutes before the competition.
All competitions will be based in Greenwich Park. This historical site is London's oldest park and also the site of the Prime Meridian Line. The park is a World Heritage Site and home to many rare trees, plants and protected animals. The 3.5 mile (5.7 km) cross country course, featuring 42 challenging jumps winds through this historic setting, with vistas of modern London in the background. The cross country course and arenas to be used for dressage and stadium jumping are temporary structures and will be dismantled when the games are over. Riders in test events over that last year have given the venue, recommended in 2009 by the British Equestrian Federation, gave very favorable reviews.
The Olympics of course, attract competitors world wide. Any country such as Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France and Germany that placed in the top of five of the rankings at the 2010 World Equestrian Games will automatically qualify for Olympic competition. The host country will also qualify. More teams, from eleven to fifteen depending on the discipline, will qualify before the deadline of March 1, 2012 depending on their location and FEI competition ranking. Any rider of a team is automatically qualified for individual competition and individual riders are considered for qualification according to their FEI ranking.
During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 42 countries qualified to compete. A similar number will be heading for London, although the qualification period ended in March, the final count will follow the entry deadline July 9.
In North America, television broadcasts of the London 2012 Olympic events will be offered on several stations. In Canada, CTV will be broadcasting the equestrian events as part of their full Olympic coverage. You can find the full Olympic broadcast schedule on their website.
In the US, NBC will be broadcasting Olympic events, and offer a schedule specific to the equestrian events. Plan to rise early in the morning to catch the live action. For many of us in North America, events starting at 9am in London will be broadcasting at 5am EST and 2am PST.
If you want to learn more about Olympic Equestrian sports, including individual sport descriptions, how to become an Olympic equestrian and more, head back to the All About Olympic Equestrian Sports.