The Burgs Summer Olympics Series: Equestrian
The 2012 Summer Olympics kick off Friday in London.
Thousands of athletes from across the world will test their skills in sports such as diving, wrestling, track and field, volleyball and even badminton.
We turned to local athletes who specialize in these sports, asking them for tips and what to look for during the epic event.
LOCAL ATHLETE: Amanda Williams, 18, Radford
EXPERIENCE: Williams has been riding for 12 years and plans to join the Equestrian Club at Virginia Tech when she begins there this fall.
DESCRIPTION: The Equestrian competition at London 2012 is made up of three disciplines: Dressage, Eventing and Jumping. During dressage competitions, the horse and rider perform and series of movements knowns as the Dressage Test. Eventing is a four-day competition consisting of dressage, cross-country and jumping. Equestrian is the only Olympic sport in which men and women compete against each other on equal terms.
HISTORY: The equestrian sport made its first appearance at the Olympic games in 1900. It was not staged at the next two editions of the games, but returned in 1912. Since then, the sport has always been on the program. Women first participated in Olympic Eventing at the Helsinki 1952 Games.
COMPETITION DATES: Eventing, July 28-31; Dressage, Aug. 2-9; Jumping, Aug. 4-8
— Source: london2012.com
Q: What do you enjoy about riding?
A: I love riding because it’s definitely a challenge. I think it’s unlike other sports in a lot of ways. There’s lots of other team sports out there, but I think with riding it’s different having a partner you can’t communicate with. With riding it’s you and your horse, but you have a whole other athlete to worry about … to prepare and get ready. What I really love about dressage [is] with dressage when you go up the levels it gets harder and harder, and so it’s a challenge. I love that it really pushes you to be a better rider and even when you do reach the top, you can always go back down with a new horse and you get to start all over again.
Q: What advice would you give to an Olympic rider?
A: On an Olympic level … I would probably ask for their advice, honestly. And how they got to where they are. The main thing is to just remember the partnership you have with your horse. Sometimes you go in the ring, and sometimes the goal is just to get a certain score. It’s not always about getting first place or second place. Sometimes, just as long as you get a good score you can be happy with that. Enjoy the relationship you have with your horse and just enjoy the ride.
Q: What should viewers be looking for during the event?
A: Basically in dressage, you’re judged on the horses’ balance and supplements. You want them to bend and flex their bodies in the direction of travel. You want them to really rock back on their hind quarters and use their top line.
You’re judged on the horses’ submission and their impulsion in the gait. And, of course, the harmony between horse and rider.
Usually at that level, most riders make it look pretty effortless. A lot of times it’s neat to watch them because you can never see them give most of the cues. It’s all very small cues. A horse will go from a cantor to a collected trot in a matter of seconds, and you’ll never see the cue. A lot of times the cues are right in their hands and are very small. You can see some of them, but a lot of riders make it look so effortless it looks like they’re just sitting there, but it’s a lot harder than it looks.
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