- 34 nations (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, , Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherland, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, USA, Virgin Islands)
- 217 entries (87 in Jumping; 48 in Dressage; 82 in Eventing)
- Nicole Uphoff and Rembrandt were the first combination to win the individual Dressage title in two consecutive Olympic Games.
Jumping (86 riders from 29 countries)
Dressage (48 riders from 18 nations)
Eventing (82 riders from 25 nations)
The Jumping competitions had their drama such as Classic Touch’s broken hackamore in the team competition. The elimination of Egano, the shocking second round of Milton, and the disappointing performance of Quito de Baussy in the individual final were all out of character. The obstacles, the courses and the qualifying system for the individual final were hotly discussed.
After the elaborate, beautifully built and decorated obstacles of Seoul 1988, the Spanish decided on something different and the two architects in charge of designing the 25 obstacles decided to use minimal figural and colour elements so as to better and more objectively define the difficulty of the obstacles. Needless to say, this new vision did not find many partisans.
After Seoul, with its two separate qualifying competitions, the FEI had decided to have three in Barcelona, but to use the two rounds of the team competition as qualifiers one and two. Since many of the top riders had accumulated enough points from the two team rounds, they either skipped the third qualifier or jumped only a few fences before retiring. As a result, only 44 riders finished the third qualifier whereas 28 did not start at all.
The reigning European champions, The Netherlands, also won Olympic team gold. Austria (16.75) and France (24.75) took silver and bronze respectively.
Ludger Beerbaum made up for his disastrous round in the team competition. Four riders went clear over course A: Beerbaum, Raymakers, Dello Joio and John Whitaker. Of those, Beerbaum and Classic Touch managed another clear in round B to clinch the gold medal. Piet Raymakers on Ratina Z had one quarter time fault and won silver, while Norman Dello Joio and Irish finished with 4.75 points to get bronze. John Whitaker and Milton had an unsettling refusal at the double oxer 4 a/b and could not recover finishing disappointing 14th on 19.25 penalty points.
There were eight countries with four riders each, three countries with three and seven nations with one individual rider apiece. The Grand Prix test was seven minutes long, the Grand Prix Special 7½. Three horses did not pass the horse inspection, including the 16-year-old Corlandus which put a sad end to a great career.
Dressage in Barcelona was without a doubt, a German affair. In the Grand Prix their four riders took the top four positions and Germany, with the huge difference of 482 points over The Netherlands, won team gold. Two days later the three German riders allowed in the Grand Prix Special took all three individual medals. The United States won team bronze, finishing 99 points behind The Netherlands in silver.
Individually the battle was between Nicole Uphoff’s Rembrandt and Isabell Werth’s Gigolo, with Goldstern and Bonfire battling for bronze. In the 12 months leading up to the Olympic Games, Gigolo had better results than the defending Olympic champion, the 15-year-old Rembrandt. Gigolo had won the European championship in 1991 and the German championship in 1992. At the CDIO Aachen, a few weeks before the departure to Barcelona, Rembrandt had won the Grand Prix and Gigolo the Special. The 11-year-old Goldstern, ridden by Klaus Balkenhol, was third in the Special, 68 points ahead of the nine-year-old Bonfire ridden by Anky van Grunsven. After the repeat wins of Henry St-Cyr in 1952 and 1956 on two different horses it was the first double triumph of a combination.
Due to a combined heat-humidity factor of 150, the Technical Delegate, Michael Tucker, decided to reduce the second roads & tracks from 11,110m to 9,000m and the steeplechase from 3,205 to 2,760m. Three minutes were added to the rest time after C.
The demands on endurance day were thus the following:
B 2,769m 7 obstacles
D 7,410m 33 obstacles
Seventy of the 82 starters finished the cross-country at EI Montanya, built by Wolfgang Feld. It was a course with many alternative routes, which were very time costly.
After the endurance phase, New Zealand was in the lead, despite the elimination of Welton Greylag ridden by Mark Todd, who had torn a ligament in the steeplechase. Great Britain was second, ahead of Australia and Germany.
Matt Ryan of Australia was in the lead individually, ahead of Andrew Nicholson, Herbert Blöcker, and Mary Thomson (future Many King), Ian Stark, who was later eliminated, and Vicky Latta. Andrew Nicholson on Spinning Rhombus and Mary Thomson on King William had unlucky Jumping rounds: the former had nine fences down, the latter had five. Matt Ryan and Herbert Blöcker won gold and silver respectively. New Zealand’s Blyth Tait riding Messiah, who had been only 69th after Dressage, clinched individual bronze finishing on a clear Jumping round.
The Jumping phase rearranged the team order as Nicholson’s bad round also affected the team placing: his 45 jumping penalties allowed Australia to overtake New Zealand by 2.20 points. Germany was third. Sixty-two of the 82 riders who had started the competition finished.