Right now, the headlines are spinning with news about the oldest equestrian at the upcoming 2012 London Games. In fact, Hiroshi Hoketsu of Japan will be the oldest Olympiad to compete in 92 years. Unlike records for being the first, having a record for being the oldest means that this item, organization, or practice is still around. Altogether, there are 10 'oldest equestrian' records that all horse lovers will want to note.
1. Oldest horse-related book
Until they find an older one, the oldest equestrian text on record is from Ancient Greece. The author was a horsemanship and riding master named Xenophon. His book was penned between 430-400 B.C and one quote from this guide is, "Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything."
2. Oldest equestrian publication in the U.S.
In America, there is some confusion online about the oldest equestrian publication. Although 'The Chronicle of the Horse" began in1937, it is not the oldest equine magazine in the U.S. Instead, a newspaper once called 'American Horse' began in 1865 and was associated with the Saddlebred organization in Louisville, Kent. In 1935, an image makeover led to the name we all recognize today; 'The National Horseman.'
3. Oldest American indoor horse show
In 1883, Madison Square Garden in New York City held the 'National Horse Show.' Today, it is still the nation's oldest indoor horse show and is conducted by The National Horse Show Association. Although it has moved around since 1883, the EquineChronicle.com states that the NHSA's ASPCA Alfred B. Maclay Finals for 2011 were held at the Alltech Indoor Arena in Lexington, Kent., and have been ongoing since 1933.
4. Oldest U.S. outdoor equestrian show
Grafton oaks have highlighted the grounds for the oldest equestrian outdoor event in the America since 1853. Called the Upperville Colt and Horse Show, it is traditionally held in Virginia each June. Just 40 miles outside of the nation's capital, it is also "a designated World Championship Hunter Rider Show."
5. Oldest equine medicine institute
If you are a veterinarian that includes equine medicine, then you know the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. Founded in 1876 in Lexington, Kent., it is still the largest veterinary practice in addition to being the current 'oldest in the world.'
However, one interesting fact is that Hagyard did not come to Kentucky for horses. Instead, Hagyard.com websites states, "Dr. E.T. Hagyard, a graduate of Professor Dick's Veterinary College in Edinburgh, Scotland, came to Kentucky to treat a valuable shorthorn bull."
6. Oldest equestrian training school in the world
In 1572, Vienna began what would eventually be the oldest equestrian school in the world. Called the Spanish Riding School, it was originally named the Wiener Hofreitschule. Today, the first thing most people think of in relationship to this school is the indoor performance under the chandeliers with white Lipizzaner stallions.
7. Oldest horse-related military unit
The remarkable changing of the guard ceremony that you see in England is second to the impressive equestrian military procession in Sweden. Since 1523, the Swedish Royal Horse Guard claims to be on of the world's oldest ongoing military units in the world.
According to the Vatican website, the oldest is actually the Pontifical Swiss Guard. On January 22, 1506, this military unit became essential to Roman Catholic history. Regardless, horses are not presently used in the ceremony and the last horses were most likely used by the Noble Guard in 1904. In other words, the Swedish Royal Horse Guard may in fact be the oldest equestrian-based ongoing military units.
8. Oldest Olympic equestrian event medals
The Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI) gives a brief history of the oldest equestrian sports and highlights that in 680 B.C. the Ancient Olympic Games had 'horsesport'. Nevertheless, this did not include the kind of horse-related sports that most people today think of. For example, while it is not always well-defined, most modern horsesport fans will incorrectly link vaulting on horseback with Ancient Greece when they actually used bulls (and not horses).
According to 'World of Outdoor Sports' by Anil Tanej, equestrian vaulting started to become popular in the, "Pre-Romanic Ice Period in South Scandinavia around 1500 B.C." In fact, the FEI.org websites states that the oldest Olympic equestrian medals are in jumping, dressage, and eventing. Equestrian vaulting did not make an Olympic debut until 8 years later at the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp.
9. Oldest equestrian sport
When asked, most people may think that polo is the world's oldest equestrian match. Others may cite chariot racing -- but it cannot be the oldest because it is not currently a championship equestrian sport. Interestingly, vaulting, dressage, and jousting all join polo in a tie for the eldest equestrian sports. Sadly, there are conflicting academic entries online and this makes it impossible to determine a victor.
Nonetheless, one fact that we can ensure is that the oldest equestrian jousting league in America has been a part of Prince Frederick history for 145 years. This Maryland festival is called the Annual Calvert County Jousting Tournament.
10. Oldest Olympic equestrians
In February, the soon to be 71-year-old equestrian, Hiroshi Hoketsu of Japan, was making headlines with being the oldest Olympiad at the 2012 London Games. Historically, for the past 92 years, Arthur von Pongracz of Austria has held the record for the oldest equestrian Olympiad ever. When von Pongracz was 72 years, he went to the 1936 Berlin Olympics and competed in men's individual dressage.
Currently, Oscar Swahn (winner in shooting, 1912 Stockholm Olympics) of Sweden and von Pongracz are tied at age 72 for the oldest Olympiads. If Hoketsu wants to beat their record, he will need to be selected for the 2016 Olympic team -- at age 75.
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Maryam Louise is a longtime resident of the Bluegrass State and has lived in the shadows of Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky over the past two decades. In addition to being a fan of horse racing, she has also had a chance to get to know jockeys, horse groomers, and betting clerks as an ESL instructor. Currently, she writes for KentuckyDerby.org and relies on her friends in the multiple facets of the equine industry for writing inspiration.
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