Once known as “The Military” because it was a test for cavalrymen and their horses, Eventing is the most comprehensive test of horse and rider, combining the separate disciplines of dressage, cross-country and showjumping, with results from each phase totalled for a final score. It is the lowest score that wins, both for the team and individual medals.
Eventing has been an Olympic sport since 1912.
The sport has been subject to many changes over the years and at the Tokyo 2020 Games there will be a new and shorter dressage test, which will take just under four minutes to complete. Following the test event staged at Sea Forest Park in Tokyo Bay August 2019, during which an FEI official climate impact study and horse monitoring project took place, the cross-country course was shortened to about eight minutes.
It’s all a long way from the first time eventing was included in the Olympic programme back in 1912 in Stockholm when the competition began with Phase A, “an Endurance ride over 55km in four hours” and Phase B, “Cross-country over 5km in 15 minutes with 12 obstacles”.
After a rest day, the all-military competitors then set out to tackle “Steeplechase over 3500m in 5 minutes and 50 seconds with 10 obstacles”, while on day four there was “Jumping over 15 obstacles up to 1.30m high and 3.00m wide”, before finally finishing up on day five with “Dressage”. From seven starting teams, four completed and Sweden took both team and individual gold.
Australia, victors in Rome in 1960, has the unique record of winning three team titles in a row — at Barcelona in 1992, Atlanta in 1996 and on home ground in Sydney in 2000.
France is the defending Olympic champion, and have twice claimed the team title — in Athens in 2004 and Rio 2016 .
Germany has won the Olympic Eventing Individual title on three occasions but Sweden holds the record for most wins with a total of four, the last recorded on home soil in Stockholm in 1956 by Petrus Kastenman riding Illuster.
When the Olympic Games were last staged in Tokyo in 1964, the Eventing was held in Karuizawa, 150km north-west of Tokyo.
History was made when a woman competed in an Olympic three-day event for the very first time that year. The USA’s Lana du Pont finished 33rd of the 34 horse-and-rider combinations that completed. A total of 48 riders from 12 nations participated, and 14 were eliminated in the Cross Country phase.
At Tokyo in 1964, Italy claimed Team gold and the Individual title went to team member Mauro Checcoli riding Surbean.
As veteran Australian eventer Andrew Hoy says: “We are light years ahead of where we were when I started out. I rode my first championship in 1978 and it’s changed immensely, I believe for the good. In my lifetime I’ve looked at some of the changes and totally disagreed but now I’m at the stage — if there’s a change I think about what I have to do to be there. It’s not about fighting change, it’s about working with change.”
The running order
The Team and Individual competitions will run concurrently on consecutive days as follows: Dressage test (over two days, July 30-31), Cross-country test (August 1) and First Jumping Competition (August 2) to determine the Team classification. The Individual Final Jumping test will take place after the Team Jumping Final on the same day, with the top 25 battling it out for the medals.
To enable a finish by just after 11am, the start time on cross-country day will be 7:45am (JST).
Horses can be substituted for the team competition, and a horse/athlete combination may be substituted by a reserve combination for medical/veterinarian reasons in any of the three tests after the start of the competition.
There are 29 countries, 15 teams, 63 horse/athlete combinations, and 14 countries represented by individuals.
Australia, Germany and USA share the biggest number of team victories in Olympic eventing history with four each.
Australia: Andrew Hoy (Vasilly de Lassos), Shane Rose (Virgil), Stuart Tinney (Leporis). Alternate: Kevin McNab (Don Quidam).
Brazil: Carlos Parro (Goliath), Marcelo Tosi (Glenfly), Rafael Mamprin Losano (Fuiloda G). Alternate: Marcio Appel Cheuiche (Iberon Jemen).
China: Alex Hua Tian (Don Geniro), Huadong Sun (Lady Chin V’T Moerven Z), Yingfeng Bao (Flandia 2). Alternate: Ruiji Liang (Agora de Bordenave).
France: Thomas Carlile (Birmane), Nicolas Touzaint (Absolut Gold), Christopher Six (Totem de Brecey). Alternate: Karim Laghouag (Triton Fontaine).
Germany: Sandra Auffarth (Viamant du Matz), Michael Jung (Chipmunk FRH), Julia Krajewski (Amande de B’Neville). Alternate: Andreas Dibowski (FRH Corrida).
Great Britain: Laura Collett (London 52), Tom McEwen (Toledo de Kerser), Oliver Townend (Ballaghmor Class). Alternate:Ros Canter (Allstar B).
Ireland: Sarah Ennis (Woodcourt Garrison), Sam Watson (Flamenco), Austin O’Connor (Colorado Blue). Alternate: Cathal Daniels (Rioghan Rua).
Italy: Susanna Bordone (Imperial van de Holtakkers), Victoria Panizzon (Super Cillious), Arianna Schivo (Quefire de l’Ormeau). Alternate: Stefano Brecciaroli (Bolivar Gio Granno).
Japan: Yoshiaki Oiwa (Tullyoran Cruise), Toshiyuki Tanaka (Taima d’Allou), Kazuma Tooto (Vinci de la Vigne).
New Zealand: Tim Price (Vitali), Jonelle Price (Grovine de Reve), Jesse Campbell (Diachello). Alternate: Bundy Philpott (Tresca).
Poland: Malgorzata Cybulska (Chenaro 2), Joanna Pawlak (Fantastic Frieda), Jan Kaminski and Jard . Alternate: Mateusz Kiempa (Libertina).
Sweden: Ludwig Svennerstal (Balham Mist), Theese Viklund (Viscera), Louise Romeike (Cato S). Alternate: Sara Algotsson Ostholt (Chicuelo).
Switzerland: Robin Godel (Jet Set), Melody Johner (Toubleu dd Rueire), Felix Vogg (Cartania). Alternate: Eveline Bodenmuller (Bioline de la Brasserie).
Thailand: Arinadtha Chavatanont (Boleybawn Prince), Weerapat Pitakanonda (Carnival March), Korntawat Samran (Bonero K).
USA: Philip Dutton (Z), Boyd Martin (Tsetserleg TSF), Doug Payne (Vandiver). Alternate: Tamra Smith (Mai Baum).
Austria: Lea Siegl (DSP Fighting Line), Katrin Khoddam-Hazrati (DSP Comsa).
Belgium: Lara De Liederke-Meier (Alpaga d’Arville).
Belarus: Alexandre Zeleno (Carolo Grande JR), Aliaksandr Faminou (Martinie).
Canada: Colleen Loach (Qorry Blue d’Argouges).
Czech Republic: Miloslav Prihoda Jr (Ferreolus Lat), Miroslav Trunda (Shutterflyke).
Denmark: Peter Flarup (Fascination).
Ecuador: Nicolas Wettstein (Altier d’Aurois).
Hong Kong: Thomas Heffernan Ho (Tayberry).
India: Fouaad Mirza (Seigneur).
Netherlands: Merel Bloom (The Quizmaster), Janneke Boonzaaijer (Champ de Tailleur).
Puerto Rico: Lauren Billys (Castle Larchfield Purdy).
ROC: Andrey Mitin (Gurza), Mikhail Natstenko (MP Imaging If).
Republic of South Africa: Victoria Scott-Legendre (Valtho Des Peupliers).
Spain: Francisco Gavino Bonzalez (Source de la Faye).