Going for Gold: Equestrian and the Olympics

William Woods Equestrian

William Woods University has a long history of equestrian degree alumni who have participated in international competitions, including the Olympics, Pan American Games, and other international-level competitions in various roles — grooms, trainers, riders.

In 2012, William Woods’ Lauren Donahoo groomed for 2012 U.S. Olympic Dressage rider Tina Conyot and her horse Calecto V.

Rio Olympics Dressage Graphic And in 2013, Krista Spencer took William Woods University horse Take Over (Tigger) to the North American Young Riders Championships, which is run under international rules.

For William Woods equestrian students, it is exciting to watch their sport receive international recognition, and see their passions performed on the global stage. It is also an exciting atmosphere to introduce Dressage or jumping to people who were previously unfamiliar with the sport.

In August, 222 athletes, their horses and teams from 43 countries made the trek to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics.

This year included three equestrian disciplines: Dressage, Eventing, and Jumping — each with Individual and Team categories to make six events total. Each with their own excitement, elegance and unpredictable outcomes.

As the Rio website puts it “Each of the three disciplines requires a distinct skill set. There is the beauty and artistry of dressage, the intensity and precision of jumping and the combined effort of eventing, which equates to an equestrian triathlon.”

Equestrian is the only Olympic sport in which men and women compete against each other on a level playing field.

According to the 2016 Spectator Guide, equestrian joined the Olympics in Paris 1900, but it did not become permanent until Stockholm 1912. Initially, only military personnel could apply for equestrian Olympic competitions, and it wasn’t until Helsinki 1952 that civilians could compete.

Going into Rio, the United States had won 49 Olympic equestrian medals. After this year, that number jumped to 52 — with the U.S. taking home one silver in team jumping and two bronze in Dressage team and Phillip Dutton’s individual eventing.  The equestrian competitions at the Rio Paralympics were held September 11 – 16. See the results at rio2016.com.

Meet and learn more about the United States Equestrian Team and the Para-Equestrian team at USET.org.

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