When Olympic equestrians win big, they're rewarded with gold medals - but the other half of their team only receives a ribbon. Let's change this.
Gold medals identify the very best athletes in the entire world. These athletes are highly skilled, have devoted their lives to training in their sport, and achieve incredible athletic feats. In short, they're the best of the best, and they have attained the highest level possible in their sport.
So why is it, then, that when Olympic equestrians win gold, the riders are the only ones who receive gold medals? After all, the horse is a very important member of the team, yet they only receive a bridle ribbon - not even a neck sash. Couldn't we do something more to recognize the fact that the horse shares in the athletic achievement just as much as the rider?
Let's think about it a bit. The horses have trained their entire lives to be able to compete at the levels that they do. They are highly conditioned and are top-notch elite athletes, just like their riders. Just like their riders, horses must test negative for any prohibited substances in order to compete. Even more, horses have to pass vet checks and soundness checks to prove that they are healthy enough to compete each day.
When teams, whether it be a gymnastics team, a volleyball team, or even a swimming relay team, win an Olympic medal, each member of the team receives their own medal. Horses and riders are some of the closest teams in this competition, but only the riders get medals.
In some cases, the horses themselves may be more famous or recognizable than their riders. Everyone knows the names of Olympic greats such as Gem Twist, Bonfire, Brentina, Custom Made, and more. But fewer people can readily recall the names of the riders who partnered with these amazing horses. Clearly the horses deserve more significant recognition than they currently get.
So, what should we do about this? Let's come up with a better way to recognize the incredible contributions that horses make to the Olympic sports. Sure, a horse has no real use for a medal, but it would still be a nice form of recognition.
Perhaps we could design a neck ribbon which incorporates a medal into it, or at least provide a garland of flowers or some other award to decorate the horse with during photo opportunities.
What do you think would be the best way to recognize the horses that win in the Olympics?