What was the original Eventing Olympic format? Rewind to 1912


What was the original Eventing Olympic format? Rewind to 1912

I was reading an informative USEA article about the new FEI star system, which included some historical background on the sport, when I realized that I am Eventing in the wrong era. As the article explains, Eventing first appeared at the Olympics in 1912. At those Stockholm Games, the competition was held over five days, in this order: endurance, rest, steeplechase, show jumping, AND THEN dressage.

I couldn’t really believe what I was reading. Dressage was last?! After three days of grueling tests?! I knew how the long format Eventing competitions used to work because the shift to the short format only happened about ten years ago. But the recent long format events, while requiring much more stamina and fitness in the endurance test, still had dressage first and show jumping last. The first version of Eventing seemed to be a totally different ballgame.



It strikes me that those horses that are, for lack of harsher words, a bit “difficult” in the dressage might have done quite well in 1912. The hot ones would have the edge worn off them. I can imagine that they would also be immensely body-sore and likely lame in all four legs, but maybe at the beginning of the 20th century that was less of a concern. But what a thrill it would have been! Only the toughest of the tough would make it to the final day. The old-fashioned Thoroughbreds would prevail.

Oh, yeah, and I probably wouldn’t be allowed to compete because I’m a woman. I also wouldn’t have been able to vote or go to university. Nevermind those details, though. It would have been a thrill to compete in Eventing in 1912! #MakeDressageLastAgain

Although I cannot find a video of Olympic Eventing in 1912, check out this mesmerizing footage from the Antwerp 1920 Olympics to remember the good old days.

Scroll for more top stories on Eventing Connect