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Sport Overview

Dressage, eventing, jumping — of the three disciplines that make up equestrian at the Pan Am Games, eventing is the most demanding for the horses as it combines not only dressage and show jumping, but also a long cross-country course with natural and artificial obstacles. The cross-country day of the eventing competition is considered to be the most thrilling of the equestrian disciplines.

Dressage, which sees men and women competing on an even playing field, offers an unforgettably elegant and graceful aesthetic experience. Magnificent horses and their riders take to a 60 metre by 20 metre arena where a panel of judges scores the work of the horse-and-rider pairs as they perform prescribed elements including a walk, trot and canter according to a scripted pattern, and also a freestyle routine specifically choreographed by each competitor and performed to music.

The jumping competition tests speed, skill, power and control as horses and riders attempt to establish a fast, “clean” (no jumps knocked down) ride through a course of approximately 15 fences in the arena. Men and women compete directly against each other.

Ian Millar, also known as “Captain Canada,” will be looking to add to his historic record in the sport in 2015: nine Pan Am medals (including two gold) that he has won in nine Pan Am Games appearances — more than any show jumping athlete.

At the last Pan Am Games in Guadalajara in 2011, the U.S. came away with five gold, three silver and two bronze medals and will be the team to beat in 2015.


More than 2,000 years ago, the Greeks introduced dressage training to prepare their horses for war and is considered the beginnings of equestrian sport. It continued to be developed through the Middle Ages.

Jumping stems from 18th century England when fences were erected to discourage foxhunters from galloping across open fields in their pursuit of foxes. In order to continue their hunting, foxhunters needed to teach their horses to jump.

Equestrian sports featured on the Olympic program of the Paris Games in 1900, with jumping events only.

Until 1948, only men competed in the events as the riders had to be officers. This restriction was lifted in 1951 and since the Helsinki Games in 1952, women have competed with men in the mixed events. They competed first in dressage, then gradually in the other equestrian events.

Equestrian is the only Olympic and Pan American sport where humans and animals compete together.

How it works


Elegant and graceful, dressage is used as the groundwork for all other equestrian disciplines. In this event, horse and rider perform a series of movements in a 60 m x 20 m arena before a panel of seven judges. Scores are awarded for individual movement and overall routine.

Dressage competition includes both team and individual events.


The jumping competition is a test of speed, skill, power and control—from both the rider and the horse. Jumping takes place on a course with approximately 15 fences. Fences are designed to fall down if a horse hits them as they jump, resulting in a fault (penalty points). The winner is the rider who completes the course within the set time and with fewest faults.


The demanding eventing competition takes place over three days: day 1 is dressage, day 2 is a cross-country race over a long distance on mixed terrain and day 3 is jumping.



An easy gait where the horse’s three legs are off the ground at once.

Any of a horse’s motions, including walk, trot, canter or gallop.

When a horse moves forward and sideways at the same time.

A highly elevated trotting movement performed on the spot.


An extra round held to break a first-place tie after the final round of competition.

When a horse stops at a jump, resulting in a fault/penalty points.

Take-off point
The optimum point for a horse to take off before jumping an obstacle.

Triple bar
A jump feature three sets of rails at varying heights, with just a few steps between them.


Horse inspection
Before the dressage event and after the cross-country event, each horse is checked by judges and veterinarians.

Optimum time
The target time in the cross-country event. Each second above the target time results in 0.4 faults (time penalties).

Additional Information

Additional Information