Eventing is descended from the earliest days of cavalry preparation.  The Greek historian and soldier Xenophon documented a system of obedience and maneuverability drills developed by the ancient Greeks to train cavalry horses for battle.  In particular, the skills required for a cavalry messenger to successfully deliver a message through enemy lines were those that became the basis of Eventing competition: of control, athleticism (jumping and speed), and endurance.  The first mention of competitions involving these skills was in the 17th Century, among the Swedish Royal Cavalry.   Riders were instructed  ”When jumping a fence, the rider should grab the mane, close his eyes, and shout ‘HEY’ ”

In 1902, the French created the first “four phase” competition, which was open only to their Cavalry officers, involving dressage, showjumping, steeplechase, and endurance.  This became the basis for Eventing when it was introduced in the Stockholm Olympics in 1912.  The competition, known in French as “Concours Complet d’Equitation” (“Complete Equestrian Competition”), was open only to male cavalry officers mounted on military chargers.   Eventing was opened to both civilians and non-commisioned cavalry officers in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. For most of the first half of the 20th Century, most of the world’s military powers maintained full cavalry school facilities programs designed to produce riders for the Olympics.  Eventing was always considered the height of military equestrian accomplishment.  Even today, several Armed Forces still maintain military support for competitive eventing programs, including Italy, Ireland, France, Austria, etc.


The Army Equestrian Olympic Team by Major Louis A. DeMarco  : the article gives a history of the US Army participation in Olympic equestrian sports.


The first women began riding the other equestrian disciplines of dressage and showjumping in 1952, with Lis Hartle of Denmark becoming the first woman to win an Olympic medal, winning Silver in Dressage in Helsinki.

Eventing, however, remained an all-male sport until the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, when Helena DuPont broke the barrier by riding for the US Team, which captured a Silver team medal.

Women have played an increasingly important role in Olympic Eventing as time has gone on.  Since the first two women won individual medals in 1984 (Karen Stives, US, Silver; and Virginia Holgate, GB, Bronze), women have won a total of 8 of the 21 Individual medals awarded, and 4 of 6 in the last two Olympics in Athens and Beijing.   Nina’s coach, Kim Severson, is one of the 4 women to win an Individual Silver medal (Athens, 2004).  No woman has yet to win the Individual Gold medal in Eventing, however.  Bettina Hoy of Germany initially won the Individual Gold in Athens in 2004, but it was retracted after an extended court case concluded she had violated a technical rule during the showjumping phase and was disqualified.

41 women have also won Team medals since 1964, including 8 who have won team Gold;  in the last 3 Olympics (Sydney, Athens, Beijing), women have been roughly 50% of the winning team mix, winning 19 of the 42 Team medals awarded;

All of the female team medal winners have come from one of 6 perennially “powerhouse”  equestrian nations: Great Britain, US, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, and Italy.   All of the individual medals have gone to women from Great Britain, US, or New Zealand.

(Indeed, since 1984, all Olympic Eventing medals, both male and female, have gone to these 6 nations)

In Beijing, 28 of the 75 Eventing competitors were women; 6 of the top 10 final places went to women.


Of the approximately 3,300  equestrian competitors in the Olympics since 1912, 150 have come from South and East Asia.  98 of these were from Japan, and 30 from Korea.  The others have come from China (6); Cambodia (2); Hong Kong (4); India (6); Phillipines (3); and Thailand (1).  Middle Eastern countries, sometimes counted as “Asian”, have sent another 31 riders, 13 each from Egypt and Saudi Arabia, 3 from Jordan, and 1 each from UAE and Lebanon.

Asians have won only one equestrian medal in the 100 years:

- Japan, Gold in Showjumping, Los Angeles, 1932; Baron Takeishi Nishi of the Imperial Japanese Army (portrayed as a major character in the Clint Eastwood film “Letters From Iwo Jima”; a favorite of the Hollywood set of the day including Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks)

- Saudi rider Khalid al-Eid also won a bronze in showjumping in Sydney 2000.


Only 1 Asian, and 2 Middle Eastern, women have ever competed in the Olympics in any discipline:

-Liu Lina, China, Dressage, Beijing, 2000

-Princess Haya bint al Hussein, Jordan, showjumping, Sydney 2000;  (she is now President of FEI, International Equestrian Federation; and junior wife of the Emir of Dubai, UAE)

-Sheika Latifa al Maktoum, UAE, Showjumping, Beijing, 2000 (Daughter of the Emir, by a different wife)


No Asian woman has ever qualified to compete in Olympic Eventing prior to Nina Lamsam Ligon.

At 20 years, 9.5 months at the time of the Olympics, Nina will be one of the youngest women to ever qualify for Eventing; she is the youngest individual qualifying this time.  She was also the first woman to ever win medals in the Southeast Asian Games (2007) and the Asian Games (2010).

Nina ranked 10th in points among the 20 individuals winning Olympic individual spots for their nations.  Ten of the other qualifiers have competed in the Olympics at least once (6 of them finished below Nina in points), and several have multiple times; ten are women, and ten are men.

Nina is currently ranked #38 in the HSBC World Eventing Ranking list; she is the only Asian Eventer ranked in the top 50; three others, all male, are ranked in the top 100;  the Japanese qualified a team at the Asian Championships; Alex Hua Tian is on the individual wait list

Kenki Sato, Japan,     #75

Yoshi Oiwa, Japnn,    # 78

Alex Hua Tian, China, #94

She finished the qualifying year (March 1, 2011 to March 1, 2012) ranked #36 on the Olympic ranking list of all potential competitors (team and individual) worldwide.