Equestrian at the 1952 Summer Olympics

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Mauno Roiha and Laaos practicing at the 1952 Olympic Games

The Equestrian Events at the 1952 Helsinki Summer Olympics included Dressage, Eventing, and Show Jumping. All three disciplines had both individual and team competitions. The competitions were held from July 28, 1952 to August 3, 1952.

One of the biggest changes at the 1952 Olympics was the demographics of competitors. Before this, most of the riders were officers (41 of 44 starters at the 1948 Olympics were riding in uniform), whereas the Helsinki Games saw over 50% of competitors from the civilian ranks. Additionally, women were now allowed to compete for the first time in equestrian events. At the 1952 Games, they were permitted in the dressage competition, although prohibited from the jumping (per a ruling in 1951) and most definitely not in eventing which was considered too dangerous. The United States had to drop one of their show jumping riders after the ruling in 1951 because she was a woman. A total of 4 women competed out of 138 riders.

25 nations competed: Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Federal Republic of Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherland, Norway, Portugal, Rumania, Soviet Union, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the USA. This was the first appearance for Canada, Egypt, Korea, and the Soviet Union. Russia had sent riders to the 1912 Games, but had not competed since, and the Soviet Union performed poorly at the 1952 Games because they had been isolated from the rest of the world for over 35 years. This disadvantage did not last long, with the Soviet Union winning dressage gold a few years later. The youngest participant was Walter Staley from the United States at 19 years old, while the oldest rider was the Danish Kristian Jensen at 63 years old.[1]


The Disciplines[edit]

Show Jumping[edit]

52 riders from 20 nations competed at the 1952 Games. For the first time, individual and team medals were awarded based on a two-round Prix des Nations (Nations Cup). 16 teams rode around Björn Strandell's 786 meter course with a 1 min 57.2 second time allowed and fences up to 1.60 meters in height and a 5 meter water jump. The individual gold was won by the French rider Pierre d'Oriola, aboard the gelding, Ali Baba. D'Oriola would repeat the feat in 1964 and remains the only rider to win two gold medals in this discipline. The team event was won by Great Britain, anchored by a clear round for Harry Llewellyn and Foxhunter. This gold medal, attained on the last day of competition, was Great Britain's only gold of the 1952 Games. They remain the only nation to have won gold medals in every Summer Olympics since 1896.


27 riders, including for the first time 4 women, from 10 nations rode in the dressage competition. One of these women was Denmark's Lis Hartel, who in 1944, at age 23, had been paralyzed by polio. She gradually regained muscle function but remained paralyzed below the knee. Amazingly, despite not being able to mount or dismount unassisted, she managed to win individual silver.

5 judges were present at the test, with the lowest and highest scores of the panel being dropped (the only time in Olympic dressage history this method was used). The test reintroduction of the piaffe and passage, and was 15 minutes in length.


The eventing competition was slightly harder in 1952 than in 1948. Phase A was 7 km at 240m/min, Phase B (steeplechase) was 4km at 600m/min, Phase C 15km at 240 m/min, Phase D (cross-country) was 9km at 450 m/min with jumping efforts up to 1.20 meters, followed by the final phase which was a 2km "gallop" at 333m/min. The final stadium jumping round also had fences up to 1.20 meters.

59 riders from 21 countries competed, forming 19 teams. 13 of those teams were strictly officers, while 2 were a mix of officers and civilians (Great Britain and Ireland) and four had civilian-only teams (Canada, Germany, The Netherlands, and the USA). Of the 12 medals awarded between the individual and team competitions, 7 went to civilians.

Medal summary[edit]

Event Gold Silver Bronze
Individual dressage
 Henri Saint Cyr and Master Rufus (SWE)  Lis Hartel and Jubilee (DEN)  André Jousseaume and Harpagon (FRA)
Team dressage
 Sweden (SWE)
Henri Saint Cyr and Master Rufus
Gustaf Adolf Boltenstern, Jr. and Krest
Gehnäll Persson and Knaust
 Switzerland (SUI)
Gottfried Trachsel and Kursus
Henri Chammartin and Wöhler
Gustav Fischer and Soliman
 Germany (GER)
Heinz Pollay and Adular
Ida von Nagel and Afrika
Fritz Thiedemann and Chronist
Individual eventing
 Hans von Blixen-Finecke, Jr. and Jubal (SWE)  Guy Lefrant and Verdun (FRA)  Wilhelm Büsing and Hubertus (GER)
Team eventing
 Sweden (SWE)
Hans von Blixen-Finecke, Jr. and Jubal
Olof Stahre and Komet
Folke Frölén and Fair
 Germany (GER)
Wilhelm Büsing and Hubertus
Klaus Wagner and Dachs
Otto Rothe and Trux von Kamax
 United States (USA)
Charles Hough, Jr. and Cassivellannus
Walter Staley, Jr. and Craigwood Park
John Wofford and Benny Grimes
Individual jumping
 Pierre Jonquères d'Oriola and Ali Baba (FRA)  Óscar Cristi and Bambi (CHI)  Fritz Thiedemann and Meteor (GER)
Team jumping
 Great Britain (GBR)
Wilfred White and Nizefela
Douglas Stewart and Aherlow
Harry Llewellyn and Foxhunter
 Chile (CHI)
Óscar Cristi and Bambi
César Mendoza and Pillán
Ricardo Echeverría and Lindo Peal
 United States (USA)
William Steinkraus and Hollandia
Arthur McCashin and Miss Budweiser
John William Russell and Democrat

Medal table[edit]

 Rank  Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1  Sweden (SWE) 4 0 0 4
2  France (FRA) 1 1 1 3
3  Great Britain (GBR) 1 0 0 1
4  Chile (CHI) 0 2 0 2
5  Germany (GER) 0 1 3 4
6  Denmark (DEN) 0 1 0 1
 Switzerland (SUI) 0 1 0 1
8  United States (USA) 0 0 2 2


  1. ^ Equestrianism at the 1952 Helsinki Summer Games, Sports Reference, retrieved February 27, 2011