Expert Suggests New Olympic Equestrian EventPosted: July 11, 2012
Last week, I discussed the injustice of Olympic medals going to equestrian riders instead of their horses. There was a mix of responses supporting and opposing my position.
I’m not one who presents problems without proposing a reasonable solution. Perhaps you won’t think this a reasonable solution, but I think you’ll find it unique.
Anatomy Of An Idea
Horses exist in most countries, certainly all that might host the Olympics. England is home to a significant equestrian culture.
Why ship horses where there are already horses? Fans of the sport would probably say that the team of the horse and rider compete together, so the horse has to travel. That’s probably so.
Of course, that supports my position that the horse should get a medal, but I digress.
I’d like to see a new event in the Olympics called Random Show Jumping. It would be just like the regular Show Jumping Event, with a lot of jumping over fences and ponds. I’d add one big difference.
For this event, the riders would use horses provided by the host country.
Horses and riders would be paired by a lottery. The riders would hop onto the saddle of an unfamiliar horse right after the lottery. This would be the ultimate test of the riders’ skills.
You might think that competing on unfamiliar horses would be enough. I’d respectfully disagree.
But Wait, There’s More
There would be a person in charge of managing this new event. The manager would run the drawing to match horses with riders and would get the horses for the competition.
I’m going to use a hypothetical field of fifty competitors to show how the manager’s discretion could change things.
Ideally, the manager would choose fifty horses bred and trained for jumping events. The manager would be allowed to mix in any horse that was available in the host country – a plow horse, a Shetland pony, a thoroughbred racer. The potential that a rider might saddle a horse unsuited to the task adds a new level of challenge to the competition.
The lottery would prevent the manager from rigging the competition to favor his country’s rider. Throwing in enough ill-suited horses to raise the fun level, but not so many as to stack the odds against the rider from the home country would be critical for a successful event.
Suppose the London Olympics Equestrian Manager selected forty-five top-notch show jumping horses, three Clydesdales, and two Shetland Ponies. There would be a one in ten chance he would eliminate the rider most likely to win a gold medal by putting him on the wrong kind of horse. The odds are equal that he would do the same to the rider representing Great Britain.
Imagine the tension in the arena as each rider is announced and everyone waits to see what sort of horse they’re riding. Picture the spectacle of a rider on the back of a giant draft horse, crashing through the obstacles before them.
There’s a ten percent chance that a particular rider would end up on the wrong sort of horse. By my calculations, there is a 100% chance that this event will be a more fun than the traditional ones.
Olympic committee, call me. We can get this lined up for this year if you hurry. Remind me to tell you about my Zebra Dressage idea when you call.
- An Olympic Injustice (blurtblog.net)
- In 2012, a Host Country With an Equestrian Tradition (london2012.blogs.nytimes.com)