When a Horse has to be More than Just a Horse to be Eligible for the Olympics

In order to compete in the Olympics, a horse has to be more than just a horse [HT: Tyler Cowen]. It also has to have the right “nationality”:

Their bond was a gold-medal partnership years in the making — and practically impossible for Canadian equestrian Eric Lamaze to duplicate.

When Lamaze’s horse Hickstead collapsed and died at a competition in Italy on Sunday, it left the world’s No. 1 show jumper mourning his longtime teammate. He also could be without an Olympic-calibre mount less than nine months before the London Games….

“It’s fair to say there certainly isn’t another Hickstead in the world, and that will be a misfortune for Eric,” said Akaash Maharaj, CEO of Equine Canada.

Much like a human athlete who must be a citizen of a country for a required period of time before representing that country in the Olympics, a similar rule applies to horses.

“A horse can only represent a country at the Olympics if he has been owned by his country or a citizen of his country for the requisite amount of time,” said Maharaj.

That deadline is January.

Although I’m no fan of nationalism, it is fun to watch national rivalries play out at the Olympics. And it makes at least some sense to attribute national loyalties to people. When it comes to horses, it seems silly. Olympic equestrian competitors should be able to ride whatever otherwise eligible horses they want, regardless of their “nationality.”