Olympic Games Versus World Equestrian Games

FEI "C" and "I" Judge Marian Cunningham explains the difference between the two events.

I really enjoy following international-level dressage competition. I’m wondering why the World Equestrian Games (WEG) was created when we have the Olympic Games?
Name withheld by request

Answer: In the Olympic Games the number of horses and countries that are allowed to compete is limited to a total of 60 horses and riders for dressage. WEG is open to many more countries and, subsequently, more participants. This is mainly because WEG is geared entirely toward the horse, with no other sports involved. While the Olympic Games involve only dressage, show jumping and three-day eventing, WEG showcases eight disciplines: dressage, driving, endurance, eventing, jumping, Para-Dressage, reining and vaulting.

For WEG, each country sets its own qualifications. For the Olympic Games, riders are selected more rigorously. For example, for the next Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, U.S. riders must place among the top three at the WEG held this year in Normandy, France, to qualify for Rio or finish first at the Pan American Games in Toronto in 2015.

WEG is held every four years, always two years after the Olympic Games. Both events give riders with horses who peak at different times a chance to represent their country and compete against the world’s best combinations.

Marian Cunningham is an FEI “C” and “I” judge and a USEF “S” judge. She represented Peru in dressage at the 1983 Pan American Games and the 1984 Olympic Games. She lives in Aldie, Virginia.