Factbox for equestrianism

Thu Aug 7, 2008 2:42pm EDT

(Reuters) - Factbox on equestrian events at the August 8-24 Beijing Olympics:

HISTORY

Chariot races and horse riding appeared in Greece's ancient Games but most of the equestrian program which will be followed in Beijing evolved in the 20th century.

Jumping was the first equestrian discipline included in the Olympics, in Paris in 1900. It was left off the program for the following two editions of the Games but reappeared, with dressage and three-day eventing, at the 1912 Games in Stockholm. The three disciplines have been Olympic fixtures ever since.

Dressage began as a method of training for military horses. Only commissioned cavalry officers were allowed to compete in equestrian events until 1952 when the sport was opened up to civilians, including women for the first time.

Equestrian is the only Olympic sport in which men and women compete as equals, and in which animals and humans work as a team.

EVENTS

All events are for individuals and teams.

Dressage: Often described as horses performing ballet, dressage consists of three rounds in which the horse performs movements, or tests, in response to its rider's signals. In the first two rounds, horse and rider perform a set routine of dressage movements. The third round is freestyle, with routines individually choreographed and performed to music. The scoring is done by judges.

Showjumping: Horse and rider complete a course of some 15 obstacles, including triple bars, parallel rails, water jump and simulated stone walls. Penalties are incurred if jumps are taken in the wrong order, if a horse refuses a jump or knocks a rail, and if time limits are exceeded.

Eventing: Combines the disciplines of dressage and jumping, and adds a third competition of riding a cross-country course which tests endurance.

2004 CHAMPIONS

Three-day event team: France

Three-day event individual: Leslie Law (Britain)

Individual dressage: Anky van Grunsven (Netherlands)

Team dressage: Germany

Individual show jumping: Rodrigo Pessoa (Brazil)

Team show jumping: United States

OLYMPIC PROGRAMME (FINALS ONLY)

August 12 - team and individual three-day event

August 14 - team dressage

August 18 - team show jumping

August 19 - individual dressage

August 21 - individual jumping

VENUE

Hong Kong Equestrian Venue

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

www.horsesport.org