Right. The Olympics are nearly over. We’re galloping like Kibah Tic Toc towards the Closing Ceremony.

They were going to enter the Greco-Roman wrestling but changed their minds at the last minute. Pic: AAP

We’ve spent the past couple of weeks on the edge of our seats, willing on The Missile to go that little bit faster, cheering for our new sailing heroes and relishing in (finally) pipping our new arch-rivals, Kazakhstan, on the medal tally.

We’ve also watched a bloody lot of equestrian, the only sport where a) the competitors have the same name as the sport itself and b) where participants wear tuxedos. Oh, the dressage, it’s just been mah-vel-lous. And after this comprehensive period of study, it’s time to settle the debate: is it really a sport?

Particularly dressage, the artistic gymnastics of the sporting world, where horses and their handlers perform routines to music. Now, we’re sure there’s a lot of talent to this. But it’s a sport of dancing horses.

Or are we just horsing around? Just like motorsports, these horses and their riders train just as hard as any other athletes to reach their maximum potential. They have pretty knots in their manes too.

Whaddya reckon? Yay or neigh? You tell us.

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77 comments

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    • Al says:

      12:54pm | 10/08/12

      I would say yes it is a sport:
      The main reasons:
      - Without undergoing the training they would not be able to perform (horse OR rider).
      - Without the rider the horse will not perform.
      - It takes a rider who has trained with the horse to act as a duo, you can’t put the rider on any old horse and perform well, neither can you take a well trained horse with an inexperienced rider and perform well.
      It is a sport as it displays the riders skill in maintaining control and directing a large animal to do things that it would not do naturaly in a structured way. It also takes quite a bit of effort (though they hide it well).
      I still find it incredibly boring to watch though.

    • Carol says:

      02:42pm | 10/08/12

      Al,
      Yes, it is a sport. In fact it is more of a sport than synchronized swimming.
      But lets get back to Olympic basics, half the so called sports today were never Olympic sports, nor should they be.

    • Simon says:

      01:04pm | 10/08/12

      It’s a bit of a wank if we’re being brutally honest.  A horsehoe’s throw away from including ballet as an Olympic sport.

    • Nikki says:

      01:38pm | 10/08/12

      Synchronised swimming?

      Rhythmic gymnastics?

      The team Rythmic was on last night and it was ballet with balls. Incredible to watch though.

    • Wayne Kerr says:

      03:50pm | 10/08/12

      I watched the Rhythmic Gymnastics last night. While admiring the skill, dexterity and felxibility I couldn’t help noticing that most of the outfits implied semi nudity with their flesh coloured bits covering most of the body with strategically placed colouredbits covering their modest bits.

      Kind of reminded me of a strip show, especially with thise felxible moves.  That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it wink For the atheletics of course.,

    • Nick says:

      04:11pm | 10/08/12

      Dressage is about as wanky as a military parade.  I wouldn’t do it but I think it’s sad that people who know nothing about it are so quick to sneer.  Most people who do it aren’t even rich like people seem to think, just about every rural family in the nation rides horses.

    • Paleoflatus says:

      01:05pm | 10/08/12

      Of course equestrian competition (“equestrian” is an adjective,  not a noun) is a sport. It lies somewhere between fox-hunting, cockroach-racing, BMX and speed-typing.
      The precise definition is irrelevant, however, as the Olympics is a spectacle of elite stars performing for the entertainment of a world of couch potatoes - rather like a rock concert - and anything that grips the sponsors and TV audience is fair game.

    • Kerryn says:

      01:06pm | 10/08/12

      Which is the athlete though, the horse or the jockey?  How much credit do these horses get?  To me it often looks like the horse gets a quick pat and then the jockey gets all the glory when the horse does most of the work!

    • acotrel says:

      09:41am | 11/08/12

      ’ jockey gets all the glory when the horse does most of the work! ‘

      . Yes, but the jockey feeds the horse,  It is like purring petrol in an F1 racing car.

    • Mike says:

      11:18am | 12/08/12

      Too right.  To me, equestrian is some guy (or gal) riding a horse around in a square, being a ponce, going sideways or backwards with the same movement animation in the horse like it was on Dynasty Wars or Golden Axe in the old arcade games.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJax6zYkcMk - @ 2.10 and you see what I mean smile

      There’s no jumps, no water, no nothing.  At least make the horse pull up and shout “Hi Ho Silver” or do some trick stunts like hanging off the saddle or leaning back in it as per a Rodeo. 

      P.S. Before people misunderstand, I am referring to this - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTJjff8oQaI

      Not this - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHQwgRs7nh0&feature=related

    • sunny says:

      02:46pm | 12/08/12

      Mike, that Saddle Bronc Riding would be an awesome Olympic sport. Each nation sends riders and horses but the riders have to ride the horses other countries. We could start the Australian Institute For Mean Bucking Broncos to train the horses (get ‘em angry enough) in their quest for Olympic glory.

    • Frank says:

      01:06pm | 10/08/12

      Omg boring is an understatement growing grass should be a sport and that would be more entertaining…Why is BMX an olympic sport again? what they cant just stay at the X Games and in the 80’s? Do they do plain horse racing events? not the stupid show events…

    • pa_kelvin says:

      04:36pm | 10/08/12

      Try again…..........BMX is like watching motor-sport,People watch it for the spectacular crashes.

    • pa_kelvin says:

      01:07pm | 10/08/12

      “ONE” would consider…I’m not the one tho’

    • Kerryn says:

      01:07pm | 10/08/12

      Which is the athlete though, the horse or the jockey?  How much credit do these horses get?  To me it often looks like the horse gets a quick pat and then the jockey gets all the glory when the horse does most of the work!

    • Warwick says:

      11:00am | 12/08/12

      Jockey eh. You choose the most ill fitting language possible. There are people who sell textbooks who refer to teachers as “schoolies.” This is Kath and Kim language.

    • Zoe says:

      04:09pm | 12/08/12

      “Jockey”!! No wonder you dont get the sport.

    • NigelC says:

      01:09pm | 10/08/12

      Absolutely it’s a sport. Unlike BMX, where the bike does what the rider tells it to, or sailing where the boat goes in the direction you point it, a 600 lb living horse has a mind of its own. It also won’t work for just anyone - the teaming of horse and rider is critical - some partnerships work and some just don’t. The technical accuracy involved in events at the Olympic level is akin to a javelin thrower having a line to hit rather than an arc to get the javelin into. Unlike gymnastic floor routines that have a few compulsory movements and allow disretion for the rest, dressage requires every movement, in order, at the right time,oh, and did I mention that the horse does have mind of its own. The riders make it look easy, but that’s why they are Olympians. Go along to your local equestrian club this weekend - there’s bound to be a competition near you and just see how hard it really is.

    • NigelC says:

      01:10pm | 10/08/12

      Absolutely it’s a sport. Unlike BMX, where the bike does what the rider tells it to, or sailing where the boat goes in the direction you point it, a 600 lb living horse has a mind of its own. It also won’t work for just anyone - the teaming of horse and rider is critical - some partnerships work and some just don’t. The technical accuracy involved in events at the Olympic level is akin to a javelin thrower having a line to hit rather than an arc to get the javelin into. Unlike gymnastic floor routines that have a few compulsory movements and allow disretion for the rest, dressage requires every movement, in order, at the right time,oh, and did I mention that the horse does have mind of its own. The riders make it look easy, but that’s why they are Olympians. Go along to your local equestrian club this weekend - there’s bound to be a competition near you and just see how hard it really is.

    • DocBud says:

      01:11pm | 10/08/12

      Not only has Australia not won an equestrian gold, the bloody poms have one three. So, if it’s not a sport, that’s three pommie golds that can be discounted as not really counting, just another 22 (as of today) to give reasons as to why they shouldn’t count either and Aussie pride can be restored.

    • Mike says:

      01:01pm | 12/08/12

      You would still lose, because you only won 7 and Britain won 28.  However, if you bodged the silver medal and gold plated it (as per my other comment on the other thread), you might just scrape home.

    • Nikki says:

      01:20pm | 10/08/12

      Short answer: Yes.

      I compete in equestrian sports (dressage, showjumping and training to get back into eventing) and it takes more physical ability from the rider than casual observer would think. The rider needs to be able to isolate particular muscles in their body in order to give clear and concise signals (eg, shifting weight, use of leg, a slight turn of the shoulder) to the horse so that it knows what ‘dance moves’ to do, at what tempo and at which exact point in the arena. It may look like they are just sitting there letting the horse do all the work, but that’s the aim of years of dressage training - to refine the horse’s acceptance of the signals so that it looks effortless. The modern Warmblood breeds they use for dressage now have huge movement that needs exceptional balance and control of one’s body to be able to sit ‘quietly’ like that. own Jumping and particularly cross-country, requires a great deal of fitness. Riding in ‘two-point’ position, when the rider is standing in the stirrups balancing over the horse needs a strong back, core and legs, plus upper body and arm fitness - your arms are always moving with the horse’s movement so as not to be hard on it’s mouth yet still retain control of it’s direction and speed.

      I had a year off riding while I had a baby, and started getting my horses back into work a few months ago. I only get to ride 3, maybe 4 times a week (hard to get babysitters) for an hour at a time and the baby weight has fallen off, my abs and core strength are back to normal, and my legs are toned again. This is the only exercise I do, and I don’t diet.

      So, yeah. It’s totally a sport, no less so than yachting or archery. Lots of sports are boring to watch. My husband hates watching the dressage but enjoys the jumping, I hate when he watches the cricket but will watch international rugby with him. All a matter of taste really.

    • Paleoflatus says:

      01:59pm | 10/08/12

      I couldn’t agree more. Riding’s right up there with vegetable gardening, which also keeps my wife fit and healthy, although she follows your example by occasionally taking a fall. As well as her skill and effort, it similarly depends on close co-operation with the plants, although we find it even less interesting to watch than dressage, or cricket.

    • Zoe says:

      03:59pm | 12/08/12

      The equestrian events like most other sports are more interesting if you understand it.
      I watched some of the yachting and at first thought it was basically just boats bobbing up and down on the water. Unless there was a buoy in the picture it was hard to tell how fast they were moving, if at all. The longer I watched and learned how it worked the better it was.
      A good commentator who explains the sport makes a huge difference. I enjoy watching the less well known sports in the olympics and was surprised how much I enjoyed the BMX.
      Swimming is overrated, tennis, basketball etc ive seen so often its now boring. I find athletics exciting because its not so much about money. Running is a basic sport no matter how rich or poor.
      They are all sports though.

    • AdamC says:

      01:21pm | 10/08/12

      Dressage is a bit of a line-ball-call, but the rest is clearly in. Why wouldn’t it be a sport?

    • Me says:

      01:22pm | 10/08/12

      I spent 10 minutes watching what I thought was a horse and their rider doing some warmups before their dressage event. Turns out it was the main event!! All the horse seemed to be doing was walking around albeit in an ‘unusual’ manner.
      Something cannot be classified as a sport if you get marked on your ‘looks’. Also just because something is difficult, doesn’t mean it should be a sport: sticking a fork up your nose is difficult but I wouldn’t call that a sport either.

    • E says:

      03:45pm | 13/08/12

      Compared to trampolining?? I literally was waiting for the guy to start his routine when he held his hands up in finish. Worst “sport” ever.

    • Me says:

      01:23pm | 10/08/12

      I spent 10 minutes watching what I thought was a horse and their rider doing some warmups before their dressage event. Turns out it was the main event!! All the horse seemed to be doing was walking around albeit in an ‘unusual’ manner.
      Something cannot be classified as a sport if you get marked on your ‘looks’. Also just because something is difficult, doesn’t mean it should be a sport: sticking a fork up your nose is difficult but I wouldn’t call that a sport either.

    • Al says:

      01:43pm | 10/08/12

      Sticking a fork up your nose (safely) is difficult but doesn’t require years of skill and training as well as working and controling an animal with its own mind to do things it would not normaly do.

      Sticking a fork up your nose generaly isn’t difficult, just stupid.

    • Daz says:

      10:11am | 11/08/12

      Would be even harder to train the horse to stick a fork up your nose. Now that would be an olympic event worth watching!

    • Me says:

      01:22pm | 10/08/12

      I spent 10 minutes watching what I thought was a horse and their rider doing some warmups before their dressage event. Turns out it was the main event!! All the horse seemed to be doing was walking around albeit in an ‘unusual’ manner.
      Something cannot be classified as a sport if you get marked on your ‘looks’. Also just because something is difficult, doesn’t mean it should be a sport: sticking a fork up your nose is difficult but I wouldn’t call that a sport either.

    • pa_kelvin says:

      02:00pm | 10/08/12

      @ME…Slow down you’re repeating yourself. smile

    • Jme says:

      02:36pm | 10/08/12

      You can say that again Me.

    • Zoe says:

      04:14pm | 12/08/12

      So if you cant class it as a sport if you get marked on your “looks” that would rule out diving and gymnastics then.
      In dressage they are judged on how well they perform certain moves. I couldnt judge a gymnast on the rings but it doesnt make it any less of a sport.

    • Tony H says:

      01:32pm | 10/08/12

      Theres lots of stupid non-sports at the olympics. Equestrian, sychronised swimming, synchcronised diving and all the different stupid swimming strokes. Backstroke, breastroke and butterfly? Why? In athletics terms thats like having the 100 metres hop, the 100 metres run backwards, the 100m 3-legged race and the 100 metres walk on your hands.

    • SD says:

      10:12am | 11/08/12

      Which is why PhelPs doesn’t compare to Bolt on medals alone. Historically it’s harder to win the sprint double, as he’s the only one to do it, than a swag of pool gold for swimming basically the same race over and over.

    • Zoe says:

      04:06pm | 12/08/12

      Just because a sport isnt mainstream where you live doesnt make it a non-sport. Plenty of country people understand how the equestrian events work. They have been around for longer than many of the other sports.
      Also just because a sport isnt popular in Australia doesnt mean its not overseas.
      Agree with the comment about Bolt though. There are far more countries competing in athletics than swimming.

    • sarah says:

      01:36pm | 10/08/12

      Of course it should! It takes a hell of a lot of training, dedication, conditioning, focus on technical ability and believe it or not only horse and rider fitness! Something that a few other sports don’t have at all!!! There a plenty of other sports that should be under fire before equestrian.
      And FYI, all horses must perform the set grand prix test which does not involve any music in the first round. Only the top horses from this test go through to the freestyle test which is set to music.

      I agree, Dressage can be boring to watch if you don’t know what you’re looking at - but most sports are the same, if it’s not you’re thing you probably won’t find it interesting.

    • Dave-o says:

      01:40pm | 10/08/12

      Dressage is not a sport.

    • Al says:

      01:47pm | 10/08/12

      Dave-o - Explain why so people can dispell your argument please.

    • M says:

      01:41pm | 10/08/12

      If synchronised swimming is allowed to be a sport then I see no reason why dressage should be excluded.

    • LostinPerth says:

      01:47pm | 10/08/12

      Of course its a sport. And unless I’m wrong it is the only one where men and women compete against each other to be the best in the world.

    • Bolz says:

      01:59pm | 10/08/12

      If they have equestrian then they should add dog trials. It’s pretty much the same thing, where it’s not so much about human abilities, but more so the animals.

    • Gordon says:

      02:52pm | 10/08/12

      I’d watch dog trials. Reminds me of work. Herding Fwits into small spaces and closing the gate.

      and @lostinperth

      ..I like your thinking, if men and women competed together we could have wife carrying and handjob timetrials.

    • Sickemrex says:

      02:42pm | 11/08/12

      @ Gordon, but would the winner be the slowest or the fastest?

    • Diogenes says:

      02:38pm | 10/08/12

      Actually I would argue that most sports shouldn’t be inculded in the Olympics as “Citius, Altius, Fortius” - “Swifter, Higher, Stronger” is the Olympic motto. Therefore anything other than running, swimming, (swifter), high jump (higher) , weightlifting & boxing(stronger) should be eliminated - although I could possibly accept rowing, cycling (including BMX) and sailing as swifter elements.

      I don’t care how much work or how hard, if you get a score for “artistic merit” it is not a sport rather a performance, otherwise you may as well include ballroom, and pole dancing.

    • pa_kelvin says:

      03:22pm | 10/08/12

      Pole dancing I’d watch. smile

    • Anubis says:

      03:31pm | 10/08/12

      Bring on Pole Dancing as an Olympic Sport. That’s something that Channel 9’s commentators could sink their teeth in to. raspberry

    • M says:

      03:35pm | 10/08/12

      If you’re going to take that stance, how about we go back to what the olympics was originally about, perfecting the art of war? Then we’d be left with the track and field events and wrestling.

    • M says:

      03:36pm | 10/08/12

      If you’re going to take that stance, how about we go back to what the olympics was originally about, perfecting the art of war? Then we’d be left with the track and field events and wrestling.

    • Jme says:

      02:41pm | 10/08/12

      Most definately Bolz.
      What about sheep sheering and trials? The Kiwi’s will be up there with the best of them for sure! I have attained my black belt in Origami over the years, do you think that this could be an Olympic sport aswel?

    • Gordon says:

      02:45pm | 10/08/12

      Sports are stylised versions of hunting, fighting or running away. The ability to do both competently on horseback was highly prized, not to mention raising your chances of not dying before you’ve contributed to the gene pool. Dressage being control of the beast I guess it qualifies .

      Aside from that… if it has an audience it’s in…they are all bloody silly at one level anyway.

    • Max Power says:

      02:49pm | 10/08/12

      I think it is a sport and should be included.

      However, if Ball Dancing, Baton Dancing, Hoola-Hoop Dancing and Streamer Dancing are worthy of inclusion in the Olympics, then god dammit, so should Pole Dancing. Strippers unite, push to have your skills rewarded with the chance to win an Olympic Gold medal. 

      I for one, would like to volunteer to be a judge for the Pole Dancing.

    • Anubis says:

      04:07pm | 10/08/12

      Max Power and his fellow Pole Dancing Judges

      tongue rolleye tongue wink red face tongue rolleye tongue laugh

    • Trevor says:

      02:50pm | 10/08/12

      10 times the sport of motor racing. At least the horses are ostensibly on the same level.

    • M says:

      03:38pm | 10/08/12

      Do you know anything about motorsports?

    • Trevor says:

      02:50pm | 10/08/12

      10 times the sport of motor racing. At least the horses are ostensibly on the same level.

    • Amanda says:

      03:03pm | 10/08/12

      well, if we are going to got there - is Synchronised Swimming a sport? Is Table Tennis? I consider Dressage to be an incredibly elitist activity. The cross country and the jumping a good watch.

      And some events that are at the Olympics - they are definitely sports, but are they Olympic sports?

      I ponder why there are so many shooting events. The BMX - makes entertaining viewing, but my 6 year old son rides a bigger bike.

      And one of the worst moves by the IOC ever - the inclusion of Golf as an Olympic Sport. Come on, really? What a joke.

    • AJ of Here says:

      03:12pm | 10/08/12

      Anything that requires someone else to tell me who won cannot be a sport. Dance, arts and drama, maybe, but not sports.

    • Arnold Layne says:

      03:20pm | 10/08/12

      Why not include golf?  Lots of countries around the world play it, the competitors are generally very well behaved (with one or two very notable exceptions!).  They’re including rugby sevens too aren’t they?

    • cynic says:

      03:42pm | 10/08/12

      Why not, badmington is as is trampoline jumping. Yep, does it for me, not. If not a follower of these sports, hint, use the tv on/off button like i do!

    • Pom says:

      03:49pm | 10/08/12

      Fishing, please.

    • pa_kelvin says:

      04:32pm | 10/08/12

      Are you going to warm the maggots under your tounge like in the doco’s? smile

    • iansand says:

      04:51pm | 10/08/12

      Mu guess is that the huge majority dismissing activities as “sports” are writing from a position of profound ignorance and have no idea of what is required to do that activity at elite level.

    • Muggles the Sporty says:

      04:53pm | 10/08/12

      If you are judged on the way you look or the way you carry yourself, it’s not a sport. It’s a performance art. Or simply entertainment.

      Yes, it can be athletic. It can be hard work. It can require dedication. But it’s not sport.

      Any more than the Circ de Soleil is a sport.

      We should remove the subjectivity. If you can’t score a point through accuracy, or distance, or speed, or time, or some other tangible, comparable metric, then it’s not a sport.

      While I’m at it:  is there a requirement that 100m runners must be utter tools?  Do they all have to make the most preposterous prayer antics before and after, wear the most garish eyewear, and generally carry on like wankers?

      Usain Bolt: very fast.  Also, a bit of a dick.  Whatever happened to the sportsmanship element of sport?

    • Dolt says:

      09:57am | 11/08/12

      Not as much of a dick as Carl Lewis though. It’s mostly a put-on with the lightning bolt anyway i think. Hard to not get excited about being, easily, the fastest man ever!

    • Zoe says:

      04:24pm | 12/08/12

      Show jumping and cross country both involve jumping accurately around a course in the fastest time. You win, like any race by beating time, with penalties for knocking down jumps in show jumping.  Its only dressage which is “judged” similar to gymnastics.

    • Team GB says:

      07:05am | 11/08/12

      Hmm not sure about dressage as a sport, but I found myself watching it the past two days and was kinda mesmerised by it. Actually got mild withdrawal symptoms when it wasn’t on today. And we won two golds in it so all good! Sailing on the other hand I am pretty sure IS a sport that requires much skill and athleticisim. But it is utterly unwatchable. Just boats bobbing around. Such is the wacky wondrousness of the Olympics. Can’t believe it’s nearly over!

    • PG says:

      09:30am | 11/08/12

      Dressage, sync swimming, rhythmic gymnastics - all artistic endeavours requiring a lot of skill and talent but not sports and shouldn’t be in the Olympics when sports like squash and karate are not. They call golf a sport too but when overweight unfit people can win it can’t be.

    • shelly says:

      12:41pm | 11/08/12

      My step-mother is a former olympian dressager (yeah, I don’t know what you’d call it) and considering the amount of TIME, WORK, EFFORT, and MONEY that goes into this sport, she would probably go nuclear on anyone who would not consider it a sport.

      Yes, it is a sport. They train just as long and just as hard as the Missile does.

    • Tony H says:

      05:34pm | 11/08/12

      Alot of time, work, effort and money goes into the big flower arrangements you see at the easter show too…perhaps flower arranging should be an olympic sport.

    • rod sexton says:

      09:50am | 12/08/12

      You can lose your life riding a horse therefore it is a real sport. You wont lose it tossing ribbons in the air, swimming to music etc

    • Mike says:

      12:58pm | 12/08/12

      You would if it came down with the wrong end and it stabbed you in the eye (like King Harold in 1066) or if you drowned.

    • Traxster says:

      11:03am | 12/08/12

      Personally I think all team sports should be banned from the Olympics,
      it should only have single competitors, so I’m wondering if the horse events are single or team events ??

    • Erin says:

      04:17pm | 13/08/12

      I have a theory on what should constitute and olympic sport:
      If it is your 1 world stage.
      For example, if you have the Soccor world cup where every country who’s interested has a team and you win and are then the world champion soccor team - you don’t get to play in the olympics, but this is the event for gymnasts to say they are the world number 1 therefore this is the perfect forum.
      Equestrian should stay in the olympics but tennis, soccor, basketball (maybe), golf - all gone!

 

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