While Fashion Week kicks off in London today, another type of fashionista is headed for Warwickshire, about two hours northwest of the UK's style capital. At the National Dressage Championships at Stoneleigh Park, equestrian competitors are not only saddling up their mounts, they're bathing, brushing, braiding, and bridling them with great care before they step out into the ring to strut their stuff. Let's take a look at some of the painstaking steps horse and rider take to look their best.
Just like the humans breaking world records on the track at Olympic Stadium, on the courts of Wimbledon, and on the pitch at Wembley, the horses who competed in the Olympic equestrian events at London's Greenwich Park are finely tuned athletes who have trained rigorously for their big day in the arena. Historically, the mounts of choice for most riders at the Olympic level have been warmbloods, a group encompassing a number of breeds and types originally bred for farm work, cavalry, and pulling carriages but, in modern times, tuned for sports like jumping, dressage, and eventing. However, at this year's Olympic games, competitors also sat astride Andalusians, Hungarian chargers, and horses registered with Studbook Zangersheide. Get a glimpse of the alphabetic assortment when you check out our slideshow!
London has proven to hold its fair share of surprises and firsts as the last of the Olympic equestrian events closed today. Having never before won a dressage gold medal, Great Britain nearly swept the individual dressage medal stand with Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro claiming the gold, Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris taking the bronze, and Carl Hester with Uthopia just out of medal contention in fifth. The country also won its first-ever team dressage gold and first team jumping gold in 60 years. Meanwhile, Ireland's Cian O'Connor and Blue Loyd 12 leaped for their country's first equestrian medal, Saudi Arabia's Prince Abdullah al Saud and Davos grabbed their first equestrian team medal, and Switzerland's Steve Guerdat and Nino des Buissonnets took home the first individual jumping gold for their country since 1924. See all the highlights when you click through this slideshow!
Among the Olympic equestrian sports, eventing is undoubtedly the most grueling, putting horse and rider through four days of nerve-wracking competition. Eventing tests competitors in three disciplines — dressage, cross-country, and jumping — and awards medals at both the team and individual levels. These four days of equestrian drama wrapped up yesterday, dominated by the Germans, led by Michael Jung and his horse Sam, who jumped a clean round on Tuesday to win the individual gold and helped their team nab the team gold medal for the second straight Olympics. The home team, Great Britain, snatched the silver due to outstanding performances by Will and Harry's cousin Zara Phillips and Mary King, while New Zealand secured the bronze behind the legendary Mark Todd.
See who topped the eventing standings each day when you check out this slideshow!