In August, the 2016 Summer Olympic Games will commence in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This year’s equestrian events will take place from August 6th – 19th. Horse and rider events were first introduced in the Olympics in 1900. The events 116 years ago (polo, grand prix jumping, the high jump and the long jump) were not the same events we are familiar with today. After their initial appearance, horses took a hiatus from Olympic competition until 1912 when they were reintroduced to compete in dressage, show jumping and eventing. These three events have taken place at every Olympic Games since 1912 and are the ones we are familiar with today.
In the beginning, only commissioned military officers and “gentlemen” were allowed to compete in Olympic equestrian events. In 1952 the rules were changed to allow any man to compete in all disciplines and women to compete only in dressage. Four years later women were allowed to compete in jumping and then eventing in 1964. Equestrian events are the only Olympic events in which men and women compete directly against one another for a place on the medal podium.
Select Breeders Services (SBS) has Affiliate Laboratories in seven different countries; the United States, Italy, Australia, Sweden, Germany and Belgium with our newest affiliate in Costa Rica. Most of these countries have a strong presence on the medal podium for equestrian events at the Olympic games. Germany tops the list of gold medals (23) and has earned a total of 46 (gold, silver, bronze) medals in Olympic equestrian events. Though Germany may top the list of gold medals won, the United States has won the most medals (49) which includes 11 gold, 20 silver and 18 bronze.
The Olympic Stallions and Mares from 1984 – 2004
SBS has had the honor of working with several Olympic medal winning stallions and mares. The most notable is the famed Trakehner show jumping stallion, Abdullah (photo top left; Donauwind x Abiza), who won the individual silver medal in show jumping at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic games. He was also a member of the gold medal winning show jumping team at the same Olympic games. Abdullah passed away as a result of colic at 30 years old. However, due to the frozen semen processed by SBS in Maryland, he is still producing foals today.
Another notable Olympic stallion frozen by SBS in Maryland was the Trakehner stallion, Peron (Mahogoni x Peru II). He was a part of the United States dressage team which won the bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Games and where he placed fifth individually. He passed away unexpectedly in 1999 at the age of 15 but is still producing offspring thanks to the semen processed by SBS prior to his death.
Heisman (Furioso II x Inschallah) competed for Team USA in the 1992 Barcelona Games. He was ridden by Michael Matz where they placed 10th individually. He was a client of SBS in Maryland as well.
Our affiliate lab, Peterson and Smith Equine Reproduction Center (PSERC), has had the privilege of working with two Olympic medal winning stallions. The Trakehner stallion, Windfall (Habicht x Wundermaedel) along with Darren Chiacchia in the irons, helped the Team USA Eventing Team capture the bronze medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. The other is the famed Hickstead (Hamlet x Jomara). Prior to Reid and Associates Equine Clinic (RAEC) becoming an SBS Affiliate Lab, a technician from PSERC would travel to their facility where the staff of RAEC would collect the semen and the PSERC technician would freeze it. This Dutch Warmblood stallion was ridden by Eric Lamaze for Team Canada at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. They won the Individual Gold and Team Silver that year. This was the first individual gold medal awarded in equestrian to Canada and the second gold medal ever won by the country.
Dr. Kerstin Darenius, SBS Sweden, had the pleasure of performing an embryo transfer on the mare Butterfly Flip (Robin Z x Baderna xx) who was a member of the Swedish show jumping team which won the Silver Medal at the 2004 Athens Games. Dr. Darenius bred the mare to another member of the Silver Medal winning team, Cardento (Capitol I x B-Estelle). The result was a filly, Flip's Lille Sparrow, who is now competing in international show jumping.
London Games 2012
Several stallions from the 2012 London Olympics have either had frozen semen processed by an SBS Affiliate Lab or their semen stored and distributed by SBS. The Mexican Sport Horse, HH Rebozo (photo above; Dollar de la Pierre x Renata La Silla) who is owned by Double H Farms, competed in show jumping with Olympian Rodrigo Pessoa in the irons for team Brazil. His frozen semen was processed and is currently distributed by our Maryland lab. Another notable mention from the last Olympic Games is the Dutch Warmblood stallion, Big Star (photo left; Quick Star x Jolanda). He was ridden by Nick Skelton and was a part of the Gold Medal winning team from Great Britain. Currently, SBS Italia is the only facility in Italy where his semen is available. SBS Veterinary Services in Maryland had the opportunity to provide embryo transfer services for the mare Coral Reef Via Volo, owned by Coral Reef Ranch. She made the best American effort on the final day of competition in London. Coral Reef Via Volo and Beezie Madden placed sixth in the team standings. The result of the embryo transfer was a beautiful filly named Jalouvia, by Coral Reef Baloufino.
CEM Quarantine Services by Reid and Associates Equine Clinic
One of our newest SBS Affiliate Labs, Reid and Associates Equine, provides CEM Quarantine Services. Dr. Erin Newkirk works with several commercial and private quarantine facilities to provide import testing and procedures that are safe and efficient. Due to her expertise and care she has worked with several Olympic horses arriving in Florida from overseas.
Clone of the Famous Gem Twist
The famous Thoroughbred show jumper, Gem Twist, was a gelding and unable to have semen collected and frozen. He competed in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea and is regarded as one of the best show jumpers of all time. He is the only horse to have won the American Grand Prix Association Horse of the Year title three times. However, SBS in Maryland has had the opportunity to work with his clone, Gemini (photo right; Good Twist x Coldly Noble). You can read more about Gem Twist and Gemini in our article about Chado Farms.
Rio Olympic Games
Our affiliate lab, SBS North Germany, has had the opportunity to work with a member of the 2016 Olympic Team from Sweden, Dante Weltino (Danone I x Rihanna). He is a 2007 Oldenburg who will be vying for a medal in dressage. Another possible contender in Rio could be the Dutch Warmblood stallion, Imothep (Indoctro x Serena H) owned by our client Hyperion Stud. He is on the short list to compete for Japan under the 5 time Olympic rider, Taizo Sugitani. Hyperion Stud works with several of our affiliate labs including PSERC, RAEC, and SBS in Maryland.
The United States recently named the members of their Olympic Equestrian Teams. Interestingly, of the 12 horses named to Team USA, they only have one stallion competing in this year’s Olympics. The teams are:
- Lucy Davis (Los Angeles, CA) and Old Oak Farm's Barron, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding
- Kent Farrington of Wellington, Fla., and Amalaya Investments' Voyeur, a 14-year-old KWPN gelding
- Beezie Madden of Cazenovia, N.Y., and Abigail Wexner's Cortes 'C', a 14-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding
- McLain Ward of Brewester, N.Y., with Double H Farm and Francois Mathy's HH Azur, a 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare
- Allison Brock (Loxahatchee, FL) with Claudine and Fritz Kundrun's Rosevelt, a 2002 Hanoverian stallion
- Laura Graves (Geneva, FA) and her own Verdades, a 2002 KWPN gelding
- Kasey Perry-Glass (Orangevale, CA) with Diane Perry's Dublet, a 2003 Danish Warmblood gelding
- Steffen Peters (San Diego, CA) with Four Winds Farm's Legolas 92, a 2002 Westphalian gelding
- Phillip Dutton (West Grove, PA) and Caroline Moran, Simon Roosevelt, and Thomas Tierney's Fernhill Cubalawn, a 2003 Holsteiner gelding
- Lauren Kieffer (Middleburg, Va.) and Team Rebecca, LLC's Veronica, a 2002 KWPN mare
- Boyd Martin (Cochranville, PA) and Blackfoot Mystery Syndicate, LLC's Blackfoot Mystery, a 2004 Thoroughbred gelding
- Clark Montgomery (Tetbury, England) and Holly and William Becker, Kathryn Kraft, and Jessica Montgomery's Loughan Glen, a 2003 Irish Sport Horse gelding
- Sydney Collier (Ann Arbor, MI), Grade Ib, and Wesley Dunham's Western Rose, a 2003 Oldenburg mare
- Rebecca Hart (Wellington, FL), Grade II, and her own Schroeters Romani, a 2002 Danish Warmblood mare
- Margaret McIntosh (Reading, PA), Grade Ia, and her own Rio, a 2006 Rheinland Pfalz-Saar mare
- Angela Peavy (Avon, CT and Wellington, FL), Grade III, and Heather Blitz and Rebecca Reno's Lancelot Warrior, a 2002 Hanoverian gelding
You can find ticket information here if you wish to attend the Olympic Games to cheer on your home team.