All eyes were on Rio on 5th August as the 2016 Olympic Games commenced. Equestrian events have proved a highlight since their first appearance at the games over one hundred years ago. For the first time, the brightest talent from around the globe will gather at the Olympic Equestrian Centre in Deodoro to compete for the coveted medals. Follow this year's events with Aspinal of London.
When: 10th - 15th August
What: Dressage - "training" in French - is the fastest growing Olympian equestrian sport and focuses on the partnership between rider and horse. Dating back to Ancient Greece and honed in Vienna during the 1500s, it is based upon control, composure and discipline. As with all equestrian events, only military officers could compete after it became an Olympic sport in 1912. However, the rules were relaxed in 1952 to allow women and civilians to take part. Germany and the Netherlands are particularly dominant in dressage but 2012 saw Team GB take gold in both the team and individual events.
Riders must showcase a series of mandatory skills such as walk, trot, gallop and halt, supported by 'free movements' which may be choreographed to music. We will be cheering on Team GB with every step.
When: 14th - 19th August
What: Show Jumping is fast paced and athletic. Born out of practicality, riders would jump fences in order to take the shortest routes through the countryside and horses' spectacular agility was quickly recognised. Riders were initially trained in jumping for safety purposes but it soon translated into a sport in its own right.
Today, riders must tackle a course of 10 -13 obstacles in order to demonstrate speed, strength and obedience. The outcome is based upon the fastest time, with the fewest faults. Team GB won gold in Team Jumping in 2012, so let's hope for a repeat performance this year.
When: 6th - 9th August
What: Eventing, or the 'three day event', brings together dressage, jumping and cross-country. It takes place over three days and is rooted in military training. The dressage and jumping elements follow a similar structure to the single events, whilst cross-country involves tackling a course of 30 to 40 obstacles including lakes and hurdles. It can be a gruelling process for both horse and rider, so the horses receive physio, massages and aftercare just as the riders do.
Team GB have a long and prestigious history between them and we have no doubt they can match, or better, the silver won in 2012.