An Olympic Injustice

Pictograms of Olympic sports - Equestrian. Thi...

An athlete and its rider. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Summer Olympic Games are coming up fast. Years of preparation by athletes from around the world will pay off with moments in the spotlight and a proud memory they’ll carry for a lifetime. The best of the best will bring home a medal and get to do a Mc Donald’s commercial.

The best of the best will bring home a medal.



There is injustice at the Olympics.

I’m not talking about when the Latvian judge unjustly scores our country’s newest gymnastic heroine. That isn’t injustice. Screwing over the pixie du jour of another country is part of gymnastics’ culture.

The great injustice of the Summer Olympics occurs in the equestrian events. In these competitions, the best of the best athletes never go home with a medal. The medals go to the person on the athlete’s back.


Photo of Elisabeth Max-Theurer at the 1980 Oly...

Like getting a piggy back ride from my uncle, if my uncle had twice the number of feet and double the nobility. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Being an Olympic equestrian rider implies a certain level of skill. I do not have that skill level. Those who do impress me.

The horses do most of the physical work in this event. They put on a tremendous display of athleticism and skill; they do it with another creature on their back. The rider’s primary job is to aim the horse and hang on. Not everyone can do that, but doing so doesn’t compare with jumping a fence with 150 pounds on your back.

If we’re going to have equestrian events in the Olympics, we should do right by the athletes. Let’s give the medals to the real athletes, the horses.

I’m Sort Of Sorry

This proposal will likely not be well received by our nation’s Olympic Equestrian Team. I’m sorry. I’m sorry to be the one who points reality out to them.

It would be cold hearted to propose this change and not provide an avenue for the super wealthy to get the same Olympic medals that poor people work their butts off for. Here is a short list of suggestions to get them on the path toward earning legitimate medals:

  • Compete in a sport that does not involve top hats. Top hats are for people like Rich Uncle Pennybags from Monopoly and Abe Lincoln. Abe and Pennybags were good men, but not Olympians.
  • Get involved in a sport where a 72 year old could not make his nation’s team.
  • Earn a medal in something where you are actually on your own feet. Equestrian events are the equivalent of getting a piggyback ride from your uncle.

When Thurston Howell VII starts running and leaping fences, he can earn a medal. Until that happens, let’s see Trigger on the medal stand.


43 Comments on “An Olympic Injustice”

  1. Sean Breslin says:

    You’re right — it should be all about the horses, when in reality, it’s all about the riders.

  2. shoutabyss says:

    Brilliant. The caption on the first image was sublime. I think the Olympics are a lot like Darth Vader. There was once good in them but now they are more agony of defeat than the thrill of victory, twisted and evil.

  3. We Found Him Captain! says:

    How about this idea? Get winners of the “strongest man” contests to compete while carrying a Shetland pony on his back. Then the finalists go up against the equestrian category in the Olympics. The strongmen have to go through the same hurdles as the horses. The Shetland pony must wear a top hat.

    Please submit this proposal to the Olympic Committee for me. Thank you!

  4. Aim the horse and hang on? Really?? Listen Mr Baseball Cap….being an Equestrian rider takes skill, finesse, and coordination. Working your butt off is certainly a requirement for both horse and rider. It’s a lot more than climbing on a good horse and looking good in a top hat. No doubt daddy’s money helps find the best horse. Good equipment is an asset in any sport. Lots has changed in the horse world since Arthur von Pongracz competed. As far as money…. competing in the Olympics takes sacrifice and money regardless of the sport.
    Yes I hung out at Saddlebred and jumper barns growing up, yes we owned horses…so please get down off your high horse and give these riders a break ( tone: haughty but a smile on my pursed lips and pink crocs on my feet)

    • omawarisan says:

      Thank you for the tone note!

      Did you know Japan is sending a 71 year old?

      • We have 13 year old gymnasts…why not a 71 equestrian? “Hoketsu,undergoes daily muscle toning sessions to maintain his core strength for the rigorous demands of equestrian.” The man is a character, works hard, loves his horse (Whisper) and is an amazing rider. The rider is working every minute they are on their horse. If you are good…then everyone should think you are simple sitting on top of your horse, along for the ride, but you are working every minute to control, signal, and persuade your mount to work with you. Dressage and jumpers take years of training both rider and horse. People who believe the horse is the only athlete simple do not understand the sport.’s time for me to get off my high horse…..
        BTW. . . Cole is shooting for a medal in pingpong….Go figure.

  5. I never understood it, either. The equestrian events are the only ones where men and women compete together. Those girls need to find a sport where they have a better opponent.

  6. Rich Crete says:

    Valid point. The Kentucky Derby winner was I’ll Have Another, not the jockey.

  7. Lenore Diane says:

    Though I groaned at the jab to the wealthy (so tired of the class warfare in the news), your point is valid. I’d like to see it taken one step further – run the race without the jockey. See if the horse even wants to run.

  8. znsinger says:

    Easy to come by that ‘get on and hang on’ opinion, but after having read enough books involving the subject (non-fiction, most specifically Seabiscuit), I know for a fact that the rider does have a lot to do with it. There is a skill, and the right rider will win more often no matter which horse he’s on (unless it’s just sub-par all around). Tactics have a lot to do with it, actually, believe it or not. Couldn’t hope to explain how and why up here, but Seabiscuit makes an excellent read and should clear things up for you better than I can.

    But…I agree with you too. The riders do deserve their medal. So do the horses.

  9. List of X says:

    The equestrian sport is the perfect avenue for the super wealthy to get an Olympic medal without even trying. I mean, in what other sport can you buy the athlete and pay him (or her) in oats and housing, while keeping all the medals and prize money?
    Not sure if you know, but a horse belonging to Mitt Romney’s family will compete in London Olympics. So Mitt Romney may well win an Olympic medal this summer.

  10. robincoyle says:

    Slightly off topic here but my brother-in-law bought Trigger Jr. (stuffed) at Christie’s Auction house when the Roy Roger’s estate was sold off. I kid you not. Trigger is front and center in his living room. He had to hire a crane service to lift it up to his second floor apartment where Trigger then came in through the windows they had to take out.

    If you don’t believe me, I can send you a picture.

  11. Debbie says:

    I don’t have a horse in this race, so I’ll just hold my tongue. Or my fingers. Whatever.

  12. Laura says:

    The medal ceremony would definitely be more entertaining with the three horses on the platform thingy.

    • omawarisan says:

      If that happens, I am going to apply to be the guy who gives out the medals for these events at every Olympics.

      When I give out the gold medal I’m going to say “you won, why the long face?”

      Thank you ladies and gentlemen, good night!

  13. Jason says:

    I would be impressed if the 73 year-old could jump over a fence himself. Otherwise, give the horses the medal.

  14. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    I never watch the Olympics anymore. There’s way too much Olympic commentary from ex-athletes and sports stars to endure. And, frankly, I loathe the “up close and personal” stories. So many events have been added over the years that a lot of the athletes toil in obscurity, too. Romney – with a horse in the game – yeah, he’s just one of us.

  15. Why is it called piggyback ?

    • omawarisan says:

      Before the industrial revolution, this sort of event was held with riders astride a swine. The fences were not as high.

      Welcome to my first use of the word astride.

  16. Wendy says:

    While I sort of see your point, I invite you to ride a certain Appaloosa who is dear to my heart. If you do not find that you are putting forth some serious effort, I will eat your top hat.

  17. Pie says:

    Aw, go on. Give trigger the medal.

  18. […] An Olympic Injustice ( […]

  19. […] Once I get this change enacted, I’m going to move on to other important matters, like making sure the horse gets the medal in equestrian events. […]

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