Host City: Stockholm, Sweden
Date Started: June 11, 1956
Date Finished: June 16, 1956
Participants: 158 (145 men and 13 women) from 29 countries
Youngest Participant: Frank Duffy (19 years, 141 days)
Oldest Participant: Alexis Pantchoulidzew (67 years, 270 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 7 athletes with 2 medals
Most Medals (Country): Germany (6 medals)
Melbourne was selected to host the 1956 Olympic Games but at that time Australia had a strict six-month quarantine rule in place for any animals coming to the island continent. In late 1953, after some negotiation, the Australian government ruled that they would not relax the rules for the Olympics, so the IOC had no choice but to find an alternate site for the equestrian events. Several cities bid for the competitions. At the 48th IOC Session at Athinai on 13 May 1954 the IOC awarded the 1956 Equestrian Events to Stockholm, Sweden, which won the award with a majority of 25 votes. The vote was as follows:
•Stockholm, Sweden 25
•Paris, France 10
•Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 8
•Berlin, Germany 2
•Los Angeles, California, United States 2
On 29 June 1954 the official Organizing Committee was formed, led by HRH Prince Bertil, with the formal name of "The Organizing Committee of the Equestrian Games of the XVIth Olympiad".
The equestrian events were held from 10-17 June 1956, more than five months before the main Olympic Games held in Melbourne's summer in November-December. Twenty-nine (29) countries competed in Stockholm, with 159 athletes (146 men, 13 women), competing in the by-now standard six events – individual and team events in dressage, eventing, and show jumping. In 1952 dressage had been opened to women as a mixed event. In 1956 at Stockholm, women were also allowed to compete in show jumping, and two did so, Pat Smythe of Great Britain and Brigitte Schockaert of Belgium. Eventing was still a men-only event.
There was an Opening Ceremony in Stockholm, with the equestrian events opened by HRH King Gustaf VI Adolf. There were three final torch bearers within the stadium, all coming in on their horses – Hans Wikne, Karin Lindberg, and Henri Eriksson. The athlete's oath was spoken by Henri Saint Cyr, who was also on his horse – who presumably did not say anything. All the nations' flag bearers carried their flags while riding their horses. As the US team passed the dignitaries' rostrum, American rider Bill Steinkraus was aboard his horse, [Night Owl], when the horse was spooked by something and reared back, throwing Steinkraus to the ground. However, he quickly calmed Night Owl and re-mounted and the ceremony went on without further problems.
Seven teams won medals in Stockholm, led by Germany with six medals and two golds. Sweden, Great Britain, and Italy all won three medals, but Sweden uniquely won three gold medals.