With all of the attention given the horse of the Romney family competing as the ultimate dark horse at the Olympics, there seemed little discussion of the far more relevant question: why is this still an Olympic sport?
That is the question I kept asking myself while watching the dressage competition, which comes off as horse dancing. The World Federation insists that dressage is “the highest expression of horse training” but of course it is not the horse that receives these medals. In surfing between gymnasts doing multiple dangerous exercises to achieve one medal, I could only think of how one of the gymnasts or track and field athletes must feel watching a guy dance a horse around a field for the same medal. I am not saying that this does not take work or that it is not impressive to watch the horses, but I fail to see how this merits olympic medals. I am willing to accept that events like jumping have athletic components but dressage has to go. Honestly.
Frankly, I often have the same reaction about the awarding of a medal to the coxswain in rowing who is selected for his of her ability to steer the boat and keep the pace — and of course being as small as possible. I also have serious question over the athleticism needed for some of the shooting competitions, which seem more skill than athleticism.
None of this takes away from the effort and training of dressage riders, but it would seem that the Olympics should try to keep some rough relative sense of effort for medals. There will always be more physically demanding sports but dressage seems well below what should be required.
What do you think?