- 27nations (Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, German Democratic Republic (GDR), France, Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), Great Britain, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherland,
Poland, Portugal, Soviet Union, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, USA)
- 180 entries (74 in Jumping; 33 in Dressage; 73 in Eventing)
Jumping (74 riders from 21 countries)
Dressage (33 riders from 13 countries)
Eventing (73 riders from 19 nations)
Hans-Heinrish Brinckmann had built superb courses. The individual competition was held over two rounds:
1st round: 760m - 14 obstacles / 17 jumping efforts;
2nd round: 660m - 10 obstacles / 13 jumping efforts.
In the first round the water was 5m wide. There were five oxers: four 2m wide and one 2.10m wide. The fact that the there were 33 faults at the water and 20 at the oxers came as no surprise.
In the first round, there were three clears and eight riders had one knock-down. Of the clears Graziano Mancinelli and Ann Moore had eight in the second round and were forced into a jump-off, together with Neal Shapiro who had four in the first round and four in the second. Mancinelli and the eight-year old grey Irish-bred Ambassador went clear again. Ann Moore on Psalm had three points for silver and Shapiro with Sloopy, with two knock-downs, won the bronze.
For the Nations Cup in the Olympic Stadium, the horses (and grooms) had a strenuous day. They left Riem at 3h15 and were stabled in a mini tent-village outside the Olympic Stadium. Of the three medallists in the individual Jumping, only Neal Shapiro and Sloopy with 8.25 + 0 repeated their performance.
The FEI had drastically changed the Olympic Dressage rules. For the individual medals the scores of the Grand Prix and the ride-off were no longer added: only the result of the ride-off counted. There were now five judges (instead of three), all to count, and they did not have to be from countries not involved in top-level Dressage. For the first time two judges were placed on the long sides. But the new FEI openness also led to a bizarre situation: one of the five judges was a Mexican, who had placed last as a rider in the 1968 Olympics, with barely any judging experience. When the elegant French rider Patrick Le Rolland entered the arena, everybody noticed that the horse was lame. But the judge at C, Gustaf Nyblaeus, did not ring the bell to eliminate this obvious lameness. However, Nyblaeus, together with three judging colleagues, at least marked Le Rolland down. According to the Mexican judge however Le Rolland was 7th, and not 20th to 29th, as seen by the other four judges.
The Baroque palace of Nymphenburg created an atmosphere never experienced before. The castle, built in the 17th century, had been the summer residence of the house of Wittelsbach. The decision in favour of Nymphenburg instead of Riem had a lot to do with a state visit by Queen Elizabeth II in 1965. When she was in Munich, the German 1964 Olympic gold-medal team had given a 10-minute Dressage demonstration in front of the castle. The Queen had been enchanted and this influenced the Munich organisers’ decision to repeat the experience.
It is worth noting the surface at Nymphenburg: over the gravel of the park, 80cm more gravel was added. Then there were 4cm of cinder and clay. Finally, on top, there were 6cm of a mixture of sand and wood shavings.
There were 33 starters from 13 nations – of which 10 fielded full teams of three. Twelve of the 33 horses were 14 and older; three of them – Sod, Casanova, and San Fernando – were 17, and three more, Pepel, Maharatscha and Marios, were 16. On the other hand the youngest was, at seven, Granat, ridden four years later by Christine Stückelberger to Olympic gold.
Liselotte Linsenhoff on the 14-year-old Swedish stallion Piaff (by Gaspari) became the 13th Olympic dressage champion – the third German to achieve this (after con Langen in 1928 and Pollay in 1936), but the first woman ever.
Unlike four years earlier in Mexico, both roads and tracks were flat. The cross-country was designed by Ottokar Pohlmann, himself an Olympic Eventing rider in 1960. Approximately 60,000 visitors watched the competition. The most problems were created by fences number 12 (into the water), 17a (a drop fence), 18 (palisades up a hill) and 23 (a ditch with a rick). At these four obstacles there were a total of 38 refusal, 18 falls, and 7 eliminations.
Richard Meade, in his third Olympics, became the champion, riding the eight-year old Laureston, owned by Drek Allhusen. In second place came a member of the 1964victorious Italian team, Alessandro Argenton, riding in his fourth Olympics. Even more surprising was the bronze medal winner, Jan Jönsson of Sweden. Then current world champion, Mary Gordon Watson on the great Cornishman V, placed fourth.
Great Britain won team gold, ahead of the USA and Germany – the latter despite the elimination of their top pair, Horst Karsten and Sioux.
Of the 73 horses, 39 were between 9 and 12 years old. Five were 13 and older; 29 were eight and younger. The youngest was a five-year-old ridden by an Argentinean (finishing 47th and next to last). In the starting field there were only three women: two British on the gold medal team and one Canadian.