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Barb's Olympic Adventure Continues
Posting 4: The Equestrian Center

Curriculum CenterBarbara Taddeo, a middle school special education teacher in San Mateo, California, is in Australia! While at the Summer Olympics, Taddeo will share with Education World readers her experiences and observations as a volunteer at the Games in Sydney. Plus she'll offer lessons to help Education World readers use the Olympic Games in their classrooms! Follow Taddeo's journey through her reports from Sydney!

If you have questions or comments for Barbara Taddeo, visit the Education World message board.

The equestrian center is absolutely beautiful!! Close your eyes and imagine an early morning mist over a beautiful rolling hillside. Then imagine the most beautiful horses in the world warming up in this setting. That is what I see every morning when I arrive at work at 7:00 a.m. The trees and rolling hills look exactly like those in the San Francisco Bay Area. At the equestrian center, there are several practice outdoor arenas and one large indoor arena.

Pinch me! Am I really here?

Teachers:As a writing assignment, ask students to imagine what you would see in an early morning setting where you live.

The horses at the Olympics are Olympic athletes, just like their human riders. These magnificent animals are considered the best of the best in the horse world. The horses travel to the Olympics with their own trainers and veterinarians; the horses' grooms stay by their sides constantly. Like the human athletes, the horses are treated like royalty. The horses even come with their own hay and other feed from their home countries. Like humans, but even more so, a change in diet might affect a horse; such a change might cause a stomachache that will prevent a horse from performing at its best.

These Olympic horses are worth thousands of dollars each. It is figured that the 460 horses that are stabled at the stables are worth more than $60 million.

Teachers:Based on the information above, challenge students to figure out the average worth of one of the Olympic horses.


"Three-day" is the first equestrian sport. The three-day event takes place over three days.

The first day is the dressage. (Horses are run through precision movements in this phase, in response to barely perceptible signals from the riders.) Some people think dressage is like watching grass grow. It is beautiful put to music, which you will probably see on television during the dressage phase of the event.

The second-day events include cross-country and roads-and-tracks. In this phase the riders must jump a series of very tall, very scary jumps. Some of the jumps are over 5 feet tall and drop off up to 15 feet below. (It was on these kinds of jumps that Christopher Reeve was hurt.)

The last day is show jumping. The jumps are just as high as those in the second-day events, but this event takes place in a stadium. If you hit a jump it will fall down. This phase is judged on two things -- speed and whether you knock off any poles on the jumps. Points are added if you knock off poles or go over the allotted time. The show jumping is my favorite part of the three-day.

At the end of the "three-day" the points are added for each phase and the team points are added together. The best of 3 scores for each 4-person team are added and the best score wins.

Throughout the three-day, be sure to watch Linden Wiesman! She is only 25 years old. This is her first Olympics. I rode with her on the bus today, and she is a great person and a great rider.

Teachers:This is a good time to have students pick at least two sports to follow through the entire competition. Have students make posters and cut out related articles from newspapers and magazines.

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Barbara Taddeo has created these activities for the students of three schools -- but she has been kind enough to agree to share her daily reports with Education World's readers. We're pleased to be included in these daily mailings to the students in Taddeo's 7th grade class in Room 31 at Borel Middle School in San Mateo, California; Mrs. Hirschmann's class at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Turersville, New Jersey; and Lacey Rhoades' class in Mesa, Arizona.

Barbara Taddeo
Education World®
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