Olympic Modern Pentathletes Getting Ready to Ride

Although the equestrian events at the 2012 Olympics have concluded, 55 horses remain on the Greenwich Park, London, grounds in preparation for this weekend's men's and women's modern pentathlon competition.

Modern pentathlon is a competition comprised of five very different disciplines: fencing, swimming, horseback riding, shooting, and running. In the horseback riding portion athletes are tasked with completing a 12-jump, 1.30 meter (approximately 4-foot, 3-inch) jumping course on a horse they were randomly assigned to shortly prior to the competition. Each athlete has 20 minutes to get to know and warm up his or her mount for the jumping phase.

According to a recent report published on pentathlon.org, the official website of the International Union of Modern Pentathlon, "Ninety horses selected from top dealers (around Great Britain) have been whittled down to 40 competition horses and 15 training horses for the London 2012 Olympics. The process has included horse selection events where the horses were ridden by modern pentathletes on a similar surface and course to Greenwich Park."

The modern pentathlon horses arrived at Greenwich Park on Aug. 3, the report said, and during that time the horses' owners have been familiarizing the animals to the surroundings. The report also noted that the pentathletes will have had four chances to ride leading up to the event.

Pentathlon.org reported that Joanna Aston, a British horse dealer, contributed 19 horses taking part in the modern pentathlon. "I am very proud of my team and of course my horses," she said in the report. "It's an awesome opportunity to show them off to the world. The past year we have been watching them very closely getting them ready, and they have just turned out beautifully."

Men's modern pentathlon debuted as an Olympic sport in Stockholm (1912), while the women's competition debuted in Sydney (2000). This year, the men's competition will take place Aug. 11 (beginning at 8:45 local time), followed by the women's competition on Aug. 12 (beginning at 8:00 local time).

For more information about the modern pentathlon competition and for scores and results, visit www.london2012.com/modern-pentathlon.

About the Author

Erica Larson, News Editor

Erica Larson, news editor, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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