When you’re flipping through channels of Olympic coverage this year, you may notice all sports have one thing in common: they are split into men’s and women’s competition. There is one exception, however, and that is equestrian sports. The only Olympic sport in which men and women compete against one another on a level playing field. Men and women, as well as geldings, stallions, and mares, all compete head-to-head for medals.
Women have been representing the equestrian community extremely well in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. While equestrian is usually an underrepresented sport throughout the programming of Olympic sports, women have been making their mark—and the news!
According to calculations by dressage-news.com, as of September 1, 2020, of the 29,731 athletes in the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) database of competitors in the Olympic disciplines, the percentages of female riders were 83.10% for dressage, 73.175% for eventing, and 61.311% for show jumping. The ladies are well represented in our sport!
Ladies’ Night in Dressage
The equestrian events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics kicked off with dressage in late July, and all the athletes performed incredibly. The United States’ own Sabine Schut-Kery put her nation on the map after scoring consistently in the team and individual competitions. There was no shortage of girl power as she achieved her personal best of 78.416% in the grand prix and 81.596% in the grand prix special to contribute to the U.S. team’s silver medal. Sabine finished fifth individually in the freestyle on a score of 84.300% with her mount, Sanceo. The United States leadership also had female representation, led by Chef d’Equipe Debbie McDonald.
Women in dressage rounded out the individual dressage competition by securing all three podium spots. Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and TSF Dalera secured gold on a score of 91.732%. Silver was awarded to the world-ranked number one, Isabell Werth (GER) and Bella Rose 2. Lastly, Charlotte Dujardin (GBR) returned to the podium to take bronze on her new mount, Gio.
Olympic dressage has been dominated by women for the past six years, by having all podium titles awarded to female athletes. 2020 marks the seventh consecutive year that women have taken gold, silver, and bronze in the individual competition of dressage.
Krajewski Makes History in Eventing
Women first competed in eventing at the Olympics in Tokyo in 1964. And the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was finally the year for them to take top individual honors. Germany’s Julia Krajewski made Olympic history by being the first female Olympic champion in eventing. The 32-year-old was rewarded individual gold for Germany on a score of 26 with her mount, Amande De B’Neville, an 11-year-old Selle Français mare. The female pair were one of the few combinations to jump clear in the show jumping round, only adding 0.4 time faults to her total score.
Krajewski was the only female on the individual podium for eventing, marking a huge milestone with her achievement. As for the team competition, Laura Collett and London 52 dominated the cross-country course, showing off their undeniable partnership. She was able to represent women on the podium in team gold position with Great Britain.
The Future Is Female
Show jumping wrapped up equestrian competition in Tokyo at Baji Koen Equestrian Park. The highest placing individual woman was Malin Baryard-Johnsson (SWE) with Indiana. The pair finished fifth overall on a double-clear effort in the Individual Final. Baryard-Johnsson was also the only female competitor among the five pairs to jump clear in the Team Qualifier. In the team final, Baryard-Johnsson helped the Swedish team take home a gold medal. Meanwhile, the ladies of the United States, Laura Kraut and Jessica Springsteen, took home silver, putting three women on the team podium. Kraut, 55, has become the oldest woman to secure a medal at the Olympics since 1904.
In a world of sports where men can be stronger, faster, and more athletic, equestrian sports turn that idea upside down, allowing equality across all its disciplines and letting the women prove themselves as equal, and frequently better, competitors. As the Olympics in Tokyo draws to a close, we are in awe of the equestrian women who have shown some of their best performances. And we wish the best of luck to all of them as they continue their equestrian careers.