- 30 nations (Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherland, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, USA)
- 228 entries (82 in Jumping; 49 in Dressage; 97 in Eventing)
- For the first time the Olympic Jumping courses were designed by a woman, Linda Allen.
- The Grand Prix Freestyle to Music (Kür) was used as the final competition in Dressage for the first time.
Jumping (82 riders from 24 nations)
Dressage (49 riders from 18 nations)
Eventing (97 riders from 19 nations)
Linda Allen was the first woman to design an Olympic Jumping course. Inspired by the beautiful obstacles used in Los Angeles 1984, Seoul 1988 and the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 1990, she chose different themes for the three competitions. The theme of the first qualifying competition was “Natural beauty of the Deep South” and of the second competition “Go West”. For the individual final, Allen combined the best features from the first two competitions along with fences symbolising the Olympic spirit.
Nineteen countries took part in the team competition and all continued to the second round. Germany was in the lead from the very beginning. The German riders added only time penalties to their score in the second competition finishing in first place ahead of the USA and Brazil.
Germany’s Ulrich Kirchhoff won a second gold medal in the individual competition. Seven riders, with four points each, had to jump off for silver and bronze. Alexandra Ledermann, first to go, went clear in 41.46 sec. The next three riders, Simon, Billington and Miranda, all had knock-downs before Willi Melliger on Calvaro went faster than Ledermann scroring a clear round in 38.07 sec. The remaining two riders, Fäh and Tops, had knock-downs. Thus, it was silver for Melliger and bronze for Ledermann.
In the Grand Prix Isabell Werth and Gigolo took an early lead over Anky van Grusven on Bonfire. In the Grand Prix Special, featuring 25 starters, the Dutch rider reversed the order winning with 48 points ahead of Werth. After been used with great success in the newly created FEI World Cup™ Dressage, the Grand Prix Freestyle to Music (Kür) made its Olympic debut and was used as the ultimate decider. Isabell Werth scored 83.01% clearly outshining van Grunsven on 79.60%. The bronze medal went to German-born Sven Rothenberger who, after marrying a Dutch woman, Gonnelien Gordijn, who finished 16th in Atlanta, had changed nationality. Husband and wife were both members of the Dutch silver medal team, behind Germany, but ahead of the United States.
The strict IOC policy of not allowing two medals for the same effort, forced the FEI to change the format of Olympic Eventing, as follows:
Dressage – 21 July and 22 July
Endurance – 23 July
A Roads and tracks - 3,520 m (same as individual)
B Steeplechase - 2,760 m (same as individual)
C Roads and tracks - 7,700 m (same as individual)
D Cross-country - 5,715 m / 5,757 m (different course)
Jumping – 24 July / 26 July
Dressage – 23 and 24 July
Endurance – 25 July
A Roads and tracks - 3,520 m (same as team)
B Steeplechase - 2,760 m (same as team)
C Roads and tracks - 7,700 m (same as team)
D Cross-country - 5,757 m (different course to team)
Jumping – 26 July
Because of the heat and humidity, the distances were greatly reduced. Instead of the usual total of 26.950m the overall distance in Atlanta was 19,695m. Among the competitors were three children of riders who had competed in the same discipline in Munich 24 years earlier: Alfie, son of Bill Buller (IRL), Virginia McGrath, daughter of Patrick Conolly-Carew (IRL) and Fredirik, son of Jan Jönsson (SWE).
Sixteen countries, all with four riders, took part in the team competition. After Dressage the USA were in the lead, ahead of Great Britain and New Zealand. At the end, it was Australia who took gold for the second time in a row, ahead of the United States and New Zealand.
Thirty-four riders took part in the individual competition on different horses than the ones ridden in the team competition. Blyth Tait on Ready Teddy had been 15th after Dressage but with only 5.2 time penalties in the cross-country and a clear Jumping round, they won gold, ahead of fellow countrywoman Sally Clark and Kerry Millikin of USA.
Many riders questioned the two-competition format introduced in Atlanta which was used again in 2000. In 2004, the solution of having two Jumping rounds in use today was set up.