According to Princess Haya, the president of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), the status of equestrian sports at future Olympics is precarious. In a recent interview she stated that there is no guarantee that horse sports will survive beyond the 2012 Olympics.
The problems? Interest in dressage is low, there have been complaints about the objectivity of the dressage judging, there are concerns about the safety of eventing and the set up required for the cross country phase. She said it would like be the end of show jumping as an Olympic sport as well, as the IOC would not leave it on its own.
The controversy over doping (four show jumping riders and one dressage rider) has not helped boost the sport’s image.
Personally, I feel that if they can keep ice dancing (and were able to revise the judging system there), then dressage deserves to stay. Other sports have survived doping issues, and as for dressage being boring to watch? There are certainly other Olympic sports that have equal claims to that honor, such as race walking or target shooting. I agree that watching the same 8-minute test ad infinitum is tedious, but the musical freestyles are at least as interesting as skating.
I can understand the problems that surround building an international caliber cross country course, but hey, maybe they can include the “Express Eventing“, a fast-paced version of eventing that will be rolled out at The Express Eventing International Cup at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on November 30. All elements of the event will be held in a ring, so spectators can watch from one seat, negating the problem of building an expensive cross country course.
Indoor “eventing” has been around now for several years. It’s like a jumper course on steroids with cross country style fences and seems to draw a big crowd.
Given the historic presence of horse sports in the Olympics (certainly the ancient Olympics and our “modern” Olympics, too), it would be a terrible shame to lose them now. With live streaming and video replays, I know that equestrians around the world have enjoyed watching all three disciplines, especially now that you can watch at your convenience on your computer.