Equestrian: Know all about sport in which India won historic Asian Games gold - Hindustan Times

Equestrian and its rules: Know all about the sport in which India sealed historic gold medal at Asian Games

By, New Delhi
Sep 26, 2023 04:44 PM IST

India clinched a historic gold in equestrian at the Asian Games 2023 on Tuesday. Here's all you need to know about the celebrated sport.

After a long gap of 41 years, it was finally time for India to take the top spot on the podium in equestrian as members of the dressage team clinched a historic gold medal at the Asian Games 2023 in Hangzhou on Tuesday. Equestrians Anush Agarwalla, Hriday Vipul, Divyakriti and Sudipti Hajela sealed India's first-ever gold medal in equestrian sport at the continental event.

India's Vipul Chheda Hriday with horse Chemxpro Emerald competes in the Prix St-Georges of Equestrian Dressage individual event during the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games(AFP)
India's Vipul Chheda Hriday with horse Chemxpro Emerald competes in the Prix St-Georges of Equestrian Dressage individual event during the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games(AFP)

India's mixed equestrian team scored a total of 209.205 points and upstaged the likes of hosts China (204.882 points) and Hong Kong (204.552 points) to take the top spot in equestrian sport at Hangzhou. India's Sudipti Hajela was also a part of the dressage team although the results of the top three scorers were taken into consideration in the recently concluded event.

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ALSO READ: Asian Games 2023: India land historic gold in Equestrian, break 41-year-old medal drought

Dressage, a form of horse riding was initiated to train horses for war in ancient Greece. The sport began to feature in the ancient Olympic Games around 680 BC with the emergence of chariot races. The sport announced its arrival in the modern Olympics at the 1900 Paris Games. After being overlooked for the Olympics in the next two instalments, equestrian events made their comeback in the 1912 edition of the celebrated event. Women's equestrian events were added to the Games in 1952.


Known as horse ballet, the performances of riders and their horses are determined on the basis of movement, calmness and flexibility. The horse's enthusiasm to execute elements with less encouragement from the rider is taken into consideration in dressage.


Horses of the warmblood breed are usually considered by riders. Most European riders mainly rely on horses, who possess calm temperament, sublime concentration and are middle-weight.

The arena

When it comes to dressage, small or standard arenas are considered for the event. Riders are tasked to perform their movements through different letters mentioned at various positions in arenas. A small arena of 20mx40m is considered for lower levels of eventing. Letters A-K-E-H-C-M-B-F are used in a clockwise direction from the starting point. For dressage and eventing, a standard arena of 20mx60m is used. Letters A-K-V-E-S-H-C-M-R-B-P-F. are used in the arena.

Letters and meaning

A: Ausgang (exit)

K: Kaiser (Emperor/King)

V: Vassal (Squire)

E: Ehrengast (Honoured Guest)

S: Schzkanzler (Chancellor)

H: Hofsmarshall (Lord Chancellor)

M: Meier (Steward)

R: Ritter (Knight)

B: Bannertrager (Standard Bearer)

P: Pferknecht (Groom)

F: Furst (Prince)

Tests and verdict

The jury is seated at the letter 'C' spot. The grand prix level is the biggest level of competition in dressage. In the event where riders and horses compete against each other, the rider's movements play a crucial role as tests are evaluated on the foundation of one rider on a horse.

Riders and horses earn scores between a scale of 0-10. While 0 stands for 'not executed' movement, 10 is given for being a standout. The final scoreline of all the judges should fall within five per cent of each other. For scores and takeaways, a maximum of seven judges can be placed at different positions in the arena.

Jumping and type of horses

The riders have to jump over several barriers and multiple obstacles are placed such as ditches, low walls and parallel bars in this course. Grade horses (crossbreed) have dominated the jumping phase category. Interestingly, many show jumpers opt for tall horses - 64 inches (1.62 metres or 16 hands) from warmblood or thorough breeding at the Games.

Rules and scoring

The duo of a rider and horse which completes the course with fewer penalties and less time is declared the winner.

Types of penalties

Jumping penalty: Refusals or knockdowns can affect the score. Every refusal or knockdown leads to adding four faults.

Time penalty: When the riders and their horses take more time than allowed to overcome an obstacle in the phase - time penalty is given. A one-time penalty is served every time an equestrian takes a second or fraction of a second over time.

Eventing and scoring pattern

In three to four days, an equestrian is tested in three disciplines - dressage, cross country and show jumping. On the first two days, eventing gets underway with the dressage phase which is followed by cross-country while show jumping is the final discipline. The eventing category has penalty points. The rider with the lowest combined point in dressage, cross-country and eventing becomes the winner of the event.

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