Host City: Stockholm, Sweden
Date Started: July 13, 1912
Date Finished: July 17, 1912
Participants: 62 (62 men and 0 women) from 10 countries
Youngest Participant: Friedrich Karl, Prince von Preußen (19 years, 101 days)
Oldest Participant: Gustaf Adolf Boltenstern, Sr. (51 years, 105 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): Jacques Cariou (3 medals)
Most Medals (Country): Sweden (6 medals)
In the resolution adopted at the Sorbonne Congress in Paris in 1894, equestrian sports and polo were among the sports mentioned to be included on Olympic Program. But there were no equestrian sports conducted at the 1896 Olympic Games, which greatly disappointed Baron Pierre de Coubertin.
At the Paris Olympics of 1900, there were five competitions which can be considered Olympic equestrian events. But the equestrian events of the 1912 Olympics were really the first time that this sport was held in an organized manner at the Olympics. The idea of Olympic equestrian competition was first formally broached at the 7th IOC Session (1906 in Athens), and equestrian events were scheduled to be conducted at the 1908 Olympic Games in London. In one British book discussing the 1908 Olympics, Webster listed the 14th event from the preliminary program as “Military riding (referred to a committee, which requested Count von Rosen [SWE] to look into the matter and report to the British Olympic Council).” But other than polo, no equestrian competition took place at the 1908 Olympic Games, for reasons which are not exactly clear.
In 1909 at the 10th IOC Session (Berlin), the Swedish committee made a proposal concerning equestrian events at Stockholm, which was adopted in principle by the IOC. A Swedish committee was formed, under the patronage of HRH Prince Carl, for what was termed the “Horse Riding Competitions.” At the 12th IOC Session (1911 in Budapest) a committee of IOC members was organized to assist with the preparations for equestrian sports at the 1912 Olympic Games. This committee consisted of the following IOC members, all nobility: Prince Otto zu Windisch-Grätz (AUT), Baron Karl von Venningen-Ullner von Diepburg (GER), Count Géza Andrassy (HUN), Count Eugenio Brunetta d’Usseaux (HUN), and Count Clarence von Rosen (SWE).
Cash prizes were normally given at equestrian events of the kind included in the Olympic Games. But there were no cash prizes, only Olympic medals to be won. The Organizing Committee feared that the absence of cash prizes would severely limit the number of entrants. In order to counter that, and to spur the interest of the better riders, they persuaded Kings and Emperors to set up prestigious Challenge Prizes.
Several Challenge Prizes were awarded for the winners of the equestrian events in Stockholm, as follows: 3-Day Event - The German Emperor’s Challenge Prize, a silver shield with the portrait of the Emperor engraved upon it; Dressage - The Emperor of Austria’s Prize, an equestrian stauette in silver; Show Jumping, Team - The King of Italy’s Prize, a silver-gilt “Victory” on a marble base; and Show Jumping, Individual - Count Géza Andrassy (HUN) Prize, a gild statuette of a Greek goddess; and to the best overall nation in equestrian sport - The Swedish Cavalry’s Prize, a statuette of a Swedish 18th century mounted rider. Andrassy’s Challenge Cup was announced for the 1908 Olympics in London but not awarded, as no equestrian competition was conducted that year. With four first places, one second, and one third place, Sweden won the Challenge Prize of the Swedish Cavalry.
Only “gentlemen” riders, as determined by the equestrian federations in their respective nations, were allowed to compete in the 1912 Olympic equestrian events. Thus, women and non-commissioned officers were excluded.