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Will the Olympics ever recognise its horse power in Equestrian with medals?

Despite putting in all the legwork, Olympian horses do not get a medal of their own at the Olympic Games - isn't it high time to rein in some changes?

Jessica Springsteen Equestrian Horse Tokyo Olympics

Jessica Springsteen aboard Don Juan van de Donkhoeve at the Tokyo Olympics (Source: Getty)


Sohinee Basu

Updated: 3 Aug 2021 7:23 PM GMT

Hoof, hoof, we need you to saddle up and give us your attention here. As the Tokyo Olympics dwindles to its fag end, a pestering question arises once again after having seen the display of 33 sporting events and it circles back to one Equestrian again.

Without beating too much around the bush, we'll just address the unmistakable elephant in this room - which is regarding a different mammal though, a horse to be precise. Sharing quite the symbiotic, interdependent relationship, the champion horses with their skilled riders do not seem to get the equal spoils of the victories.

Let's cough a little clearer - the Olympics, considered to be the greatest and grandest stages of sport, bestow the coveted medals - gold, silver and bronze to the human athletes and does not award anything to the horses, who do the major, major chunk of the legwork in the Equestrian events.

Neigh, we protest, isn't this unfair - don't the horses perhaps, also want a bite of some of that medal? If tennis ace Rafael Nadal can pose valiantly with his impressive hardware from the Olympics and bite it, kiss it tenderly on the podium - why have we not spared a thought to letting the Olympian horses their own personal podium moment, then?

The famed carriage of knights-in-shining-armours, embarking on romantic quests to racing through Regency England, straight out of a Jane Austen novel to sprinting to the airport in order to stop a certain Lady Love from departing, in the nick of time in a classic Bollywood-y take in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na or have Julia Roberts pace down the countryside in her wedding dress in Runaway Bride - horses have been present with us, through all of eternity, their influence entangled very wholly in pop culture - yet, we are falling short of giving these beasts their due, especially at the Olympics.

Putting in all the hefty legwork, these Olympian horses are no ordinary beasts - no, Signor and Signora, horses in the Equestrian event are as regal as they get - in their build and stature and are key players in towing the athlete towards the medal. But even if they are the ones who dash to the finish line - it isn't them around whose furry neck the medal is placed...that's quite the bummer, isn't it?

A look at the horse-power at the Olympics

Equestrian at the Rio 2016 Games (Source: Getty)

While India had Fouaad Mirza as its very own knight as he headed to the Tokyo Olympics with Seigneur Medicott, this sport always draws much curiosity with every Games. In equestrian, there are 3 events in which the medal is contested with both men and women riders participating together, as well.

First, there is Dressage that the Olympics explains and which, "tests the ability of horse and athlete to display both athletic prowess and supreme elegance by evaluating, for example, an athlete's ability to make their horse move quickly from side to side, transition into a gallop or rapidly change direction, using subtle commands".

Next, there is Jumping that involves riders and their horses taking on a course with 12 to 15 "knockable" obstacles that are laid out in a particular order. Penalties are incurred for each obstacle that is knocked down or refused.

Finally, the Olympics has Eventing that is often described as "an equestrian triathlon", in which each competition is composed of jumping, dressage and cross country tests to determine a final score. The cross country test, which is unique to eventing, includes approximately 40 obstacles including fences, hedges and water jumps.

If Sergeant Peanut Butter could, why not the rest?

Sergeant Peanut Butter from Brooklyn Nine Nine (Soucre: Netflix/NBC)

All hail inclusivity when NBC's Brooklyn Nine Nine took it a whole notch further when they brought in Sergeant Peanut Butter and honoured him with the Medal of Valour in 'The Bet' episode of Season 1 - much to the dismay of Charles Boyle, who felt upstaged by a horse.

Having featured in 3 episodes so far of this police procedural sitcom series, Sergeant Peanut Butter is not only a medallist but has also shifted up the ranking in his job as a NYPD officer and has been promoted to the post of a Lieutenant making Charles Boyle feel all the more insecure, with this equine creature doing better at life than he apparently, is.

Horses have become a steady part of pop culture - beginning from the epical Trojan Horse and coming straight down to Bojack Horseman, horses are frequent stars on the screen now. Outside of that space, horses are definitely running the mile and going the distance and it is neigh, er, high time that they got their due credit.

We wonder when the Olympics and the IOC will get off their high horse and also be more considerate towards these magnificent equine creatures - sheer examples of brute but beautiful strength. Given how the horses are made to undergo so much rigorous training and have to sweat it out equally, if not more, to reach the finish line - a medal, for starters, is only a fair want. If Sergeant Peanut Butter can be hailed for his heroics, so do these extremely athletic Olympic horses deserve some pomp and medals around their neck to show off among their other horsey friends.

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