- Four nations had full teams in all three disciplines: Japan, Germany, the Soviet Union, and the USA.
- 116 entries (46 in Jumping; 22 in Dressage; 48 in Eventing)
Jumping (46 riders from 17 nations)
Dressage (22 riders from 9 nations)
Eventing (48 riders from 12 nations)
The course, which was difficult but fair, measured 780 meters. It was designed by Shunzo Kido, Olympic rider of 1928 and 1932, who had visited many European shows beforehand. There were 14 obstacles, necessitating 17 jumping efforts. The major obstacles came at the end: next to last, the water at 5m, then, after a left turn, an oxer measuring 1.45 x 1.50 x 1.85m. Only six riders jumped the water faultlessly in both rounds and only three riders jumped the oxer twice without faults. Rain had fallen for days which had made the ground very deep and soft, but luckily not slippery.
The Germans had again, as in 1960, decided to field a unified team. While in Eventing they settled on two riders from the West and two from the East, there was a selection trial in Jumping. The result was devastating for the German Democratic Republic.
For the first time a former Olympic Jumping champion repeated his victory. Forty-four year old Pierre Jonquères d’Oriola, the champion in 1952 with Ali Baba, won, this time with the nine-year old Lutteur B, son of Furioso.
The big worry in the lead up to the Olympic Dressage competition was the question whether there would be six teams to guarantee a team competition as demanded by the IOC. Germany, Switzerland and the Soviet Union were sure entries. One could count on the USA, and Japan tried everything to get three riders and horses ready. Sweden was the hope for the sixth spot. Could and would they, after the retirement of their mainstays Persson and Boltenstern, and after the serious car accident suffered by Henri St-Cyr, get three combinations who would justify the high costs of travelling to Japan? They did.
Three former Olympic riders of 1936 judged the competition: Frantisek Jandl, Gustaf Nyblaeus and Georges Margot. They judged well. The Grand Prix programme was 12 min 30s; the Grand Prix Special was 6min 30s. In the Grand Prix the scores were announced after each ride. In the ride-off, which was filmed and then re-examined by the judges, the participants, the press and the public had to wait for two hours before the final scores were announced.
Multi-European champion Henri Chammartin (SUI) was a deserved winner. The 13-year old Swedish-bred Woerman had only travelled as a reserve horse behind his stable-mate and reigning European champion Wolfdietrich, who was lame in Tokyo.
Eventing was held in the resort site of Karuizawa, 150km north-west of Tokyo, at an altitude of 1,000m, overlooked by an active volcano, the Asama. On endurance day, the weather was cold with heavy rain and fog. The Cross-Country course, with its 31 obstacles, was straightforward and was criticized for not being of Olympic standard.
The demands on endurance day in Karuizawa were as follows:
A. 6,000m 240m/min
B. 3,600m 600m/min
C. 13,920m 240m/min
D. 7,200m 450m/min
E. 1,980m 330m/min
In the team competition Italy, with its Irish horses, was in the lead after endurance day, ahead of Germany and the United States. They kept the gold, but the US moved past Germany to earn silver.
For the first time a woman competed in an Olympic three-day event: Lana du Pont of the USA. Twenty-seven years later, as Mrs Wright, she won a team gold medal at the Paris Driving World Championship.