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For an athlete, representing your country in the Olympics is one of the highest honors you can hope to achieve. It’s the payoff and reward for the insane amount of training, pain, and sacrifice you have to go through in order to be the best. Trainers may receive the recognition, but how do horses in the Olympics fit into the picture? It takes years of hard work and training for them to find out.

What Are Dressage Horses?

“Dressage” is a French word that evolved from the verb “dresseur”, meaning “to train”. It is an Olympic equestrian competition where the trainer signals their horse to perform pre-decided movements to music. Horses in the Olympics are judged on how well they perform the movements. The rider must learn how to sit in the saddle the most efficient way to let the horse perform to its peak potential, with elegant movements.

Dressage Horses in the Olympics

The Imperial Spanish Riding School of Vienna was established in 1572 when horse dressage started to gain popularity. It became an Olympic sport in 1912, and only military officers were allowed to compete until 1953 (when all civilians were allowed to participate). 

It takes years to master dressage, considering most horses in the Olympics are 12-14 years old. That means they have been training for roughly ten years (they sure aren’t horsin’ around)! 🐴 

Even though dressage basically just means “training”, it means more than that. Horses are taught how to perform different moves, but the real importance is the connection between the horse and the rider. The goal is to have the horse perform the moves gracefully, without looking like the rider is doing anything at all (almost like horse telepathy!). That’s why it can take so long to master.

How Do Horses Get to the Olympics?

Did you know that dressage horses in the Olympics get passports at birth? They include important health information for when they travel. They are transported via plane to the games, where over 10 grooms and vets accompany them. Usually, each horse stall holds two horses. 

The in-flight refreshments include hay with high water content, along with water to drink to ensure that the horses don’t get dehydrated. The take-offs and landings are also more gradual so that the horses do not get frightened by a quick drop in elevation.

For the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, horses had to be quarantined for a week before they left, and they were immediately moved to a training bubble to prevent the spread of diseases. Then, it was game on!

Learn More About Horses in the Olympics

Click here to see the 2020 results for horse dressage. The team at BRD Vet Rx loves to see happy, healthy horses, and we are an equine pharmacy that reflects that. Search our products or contact us today for more information about what sets us apart from the rest.

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