It's a long road to represent the United States in Olympic equestrian events.
The 2016 Olympics are fast approaching. With the dates set for August 5 - 21 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the United States Equestrian Team Foundation is hard at work gathering the most talented horses and riders to fill their show jumping, dressage, and eventing teams.
Many equestrians dream of riding in the Olympics, but few know the actual selection process, which is different for each team. Here is how the horse and rider combinations are selected.
A short list for the show jumping team was published on April 13, 2016, but for these horse/rider combinations to remain eligible for the team, they will have to compete in one of four designated observation events this summer.
After that, the Chef d'Equipe (team coach) and selectors will evaluate the combinations based on criteria set forth in the selection procedures and recommend four combinations as well as one traveling reserve combination. Team members should be named no later than July 5, 2016.
The team qualification process for the dressage team began on August 1, 2015. Horse/rider combinations were required to compete in at least two designated qualifying competitions before May 1, 2016 to be eligible to compete at European observation events.
Eight combinations were chosen to compete in the observation events based on the scores earned during qualifying competitions and criteria set forth in the selection procedures. These combinations will compete in three observation events between May 2 and July 1.
After that, the dressage Chef d'Equipe and selectors will evaluate the combinations based on scores from qualifying and observation events in addition to the criteria set forth in selection procedures. A team of four combinations and one traveling reserve will be named some time in July 2016.
To be eligible for the eventing team, horse/rider combinations must compete in one of the designated competitions between April 22, 2015 and June 12, 2016. By no later than June 20, 2016 the selectors, team coach, and veterinarian will recommend four combinations and a traveling reserve based on overall performance and soundness of the combination, previous international experience, athlete fitness, and a combination's will to win.
All combinations named to the team will be required to demonstrate continuing preparation, soundness and ability by competing in preparatory events to be held after June 1.
Being chosen to represent the United States in Olympic equestrian events is difficult. But no matter how big the challenge is, it's worth it, because the honor that comes with it is even bigger.