My Road to Rio – Stewarding

Lisa’s Rio Olympic Experience

Finally! After an unusually extended absence I am pleased to be back working with Big Dee’s! I spent a 3 week tour of duty as the Deputy Chief Steward for Dressage in the Equestrian events at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The news of the successes of the three US teams I am sure you already know, but the back story of the stewarding team that covered the Show Jumping, Eventing and Dressage events is a view few see or experience.

As an FEI (International Federation for Equestrian Sports) Steward you must be an “International Representative” (although it is impossible to not at least quietly pull for the success of your nation’s athletes). You work on a large team – at this event about 50 stewards from all over the world.

My Road to Rio - Lisa at Big Dee's

As  an FEI Steward (licensed in Dressage), my competition job was to assist with the first running sport (Eventing) to ensure that the dressage test equipment check was run properly and according to FEI rules. For the Dressage, to serve as the inspector of equipment after every ride in each of the three classes.

Road to Rio - Lisa from Big Dee's experience
For every portion of each of the three Events (Show jumping, Eventing and Dressage) teams of Stewards handled the logistics of horse inspections, schooling arena schedules and competition days. This made for MANY photo ops. Here, the Stewarding team for the first Eventing horse inspection marks the successful completion and a job well done with a group shot in the main competition stadium.

Road to Rio - Lisa from Big Dee's experience
Although technically held during Brazil’s winter, the daily highs ranged from a cool upper 60s to a challenging upper 90s. A cool breeze or still humid air added a bit of a challenge to our casual vs “Show Days Field of Play” blazers dress code! This 6:30 AM photo of the center warm-up pad signaled the beginning of a hot and humid work day.

Road to Rio - Lisa from Big Dee's Experience
Here I directed the groom to the Steward behind me for the Eventing Dressage equipment check. Each horse is given a quick examination to; confirm that the bit is legal, there are no injuries to the mouth or sides from the spurs, the horse was not wearing ear plugs for noise reduction and that the rider’s spurs did not wound the horse nor exceed 4 cm in length. The Steward in the foreground worked with the rider – offering water or electrolyte water.  Then escorted him (or her)  through a mandatory “mixed zone” where media from around the world had their photo opportunity with the riders and perhaps an answer to a quick question or two!

At every arena and phase of competition a Veterinarian and a Farrier were stationed near the stewards to ensure that at all times the welfare of the horses was considered and if necessary, immediately addressed.

Be sure to check back for the next blog installment from “My Road to Rio”!

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