4 reasons to watch Olympic equestrian jumping
Canadians show early signs of success as competition takes shape
The third and final equestrian event at the Rio Olympics got underway on Sunday morning with Canada off to a strong start, advancing all four riders to the next round.
The horse and rider combinations must traverse a series of jumps that test their ability and stamina as a team.
- SCHEDULE & RESULTS: Equestrian at Rio 2016
- Canadians rank high after equestrian jumping qualifier
- VIDEO: Millar makes Olympic debut
In case that isn't enough to pique your interest, here are four reasons that jumping is a must-watch for any sports fan:
The equestrian world has brought the #TwoHearts trend to social media, which is a fitting reminder that this sport is dependent on a unique connection between horse and rider. At the Olympic level, it is especially important to find the right combination to form a competitive team.
Canada's Ian Millar was forced to bow out of what would have been his record 11th Olympic Games because his top horse required surgery, which left the 69-year-old without a teammate that could realistically threaten for a medal. Like any sport, it takes years of preparation to reach this level.
Thrills and spills
Despite all the time spent together, sometimes a horse and rider have a difference of opinion.
This <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UKR?src=hash">#UKR</a> rider took a tumble in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/EquestrianJumping?src=hash">#EquestrianJumping</a>. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Rio2016?src=hash">#Rio2016</a> <a href="https://t.co/H73tGUmMFr">https://t.co/H73tGUmMFr</a> <a href="https://t.co/dIpAfDt01q">https://t.co/dIpAfDt01q</a>—@CBCOlympics
With this in mind, there is never a shortage of excitement when every course features water elements, walls and jumps that are over five feet in height.
It is the only Olympic sport where men and women compete together for the same medals. Additionally, age isn't a factor. There aren't any other sports where a daughter can step in to replace her father in competition. That's exactly what Amy Millar was able to do and she posted a clear round in her Olympic debut for Canada on Sunday. It's actually Amy and Ian's hope to compete side by side in the future.
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CAN?src=hash">#CAN</a> Amy Millar impressed in her <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Olympics?src=hash">#Olympics</a> debut at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/EquestrianJumping?src=hash">#EquestrianJumping</a>. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Rio2016?src=hash">#Rio2016</a> <a href="https://t.co/H73tGUmMFr">https://t.co/H73tGUmMFr</a> <a href="https://t.co/3dzzqF5aZO">https://t.co/3dzzqF5aZO</a>—@CBCOlympics
Canada's veteran Eric Lamaze also rode clear, while teammates Tiffany Foster and Yann Candele each took down a rail.
Anything can happen
The jumping event stretches across four days of competition and includes five rounds of action, which keeps it wide open for anything to happen. One off day or trip up could leave room for an upset.
The team jumping favourites had only one rider claim a clear round in the first day of competition, as three of the four Americans collected a fault, while the same happened with the defending Olympic champion British squad.
There has also never been an individual who has managed to earn back-to-back Olympic titles and Switzerland's reigning gold medallist Steve Guerdat will look to become the first to manage the feat as jumping continues Tuesday at 9 a.m. ET.