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Top equestrian stories to watch in Rio

USA Today Sports

Top equestrian stories to watch in Rio

As Beezie Madden makes her fourth Olympic appearance, here is everything you need to know about equestrian in Rio. 

Ian Millar won’t break Olympic appearance record 
10-time Olympian Ian Millar will not return for the Rio Olympic Games. The Canadian show jumper’s horses underwent sinus surgery earlier in the year, making the animal unfit for competition. Millar, who set the record for most Olympic appearances, will likely still attend the Gamess, not as an athlete, but rather as a supporting father. His daughter, Amy Millar, was named to her first Olympic show jumping team. 

Off-the-track thoroughbreds 
Many of the equine competitors may be on their second career. Eventing, often called the horse triathlon, boasts a large constituency of ex-racehorses in the sport. Off-the-track thoroughbreds, or OTTBs, are particularly popular in eventing because their drive and focus. "They've got great endurance and stamina, jumping ability, and on cross-country I don't think there's a better breed of horse to be riding than a thoroughbred," U.S. eventer Boyd Martin said. Martin will ride his OTTB Blackfoot Mystery at the Rio Games. 

Valegro returns
Double Olympic dressage gold medalist Charlotte Dujardin is returning to the Games with Valegro. In 2012, the duo set a new Olympic record when they scored 83.784% in the Grand Prix round of the team event. 

William Fox-Pitt makes full recovery
British eventer William Fox-Pitt nearly missed the Rio Olympics after falling off his horse during a competition in Oct. 2015. The four-time Olympian sustained a head injury and was placed in a coma for several days. Fox-Pitt was determined to make it to the 2016 Games and used the Olympics as a source of inspiration and motivation. He will make his fifth Olympic appearance in the Rio.

Five nations set to make their Olympic equestrian debut in Rio 
Chinese Taipei, Qatar, Dominican Republic, Palestine, and Zimbabwe are set to send equestrians to the Olympics for the first time. Chinese Taipei and Qatar will compete in show jumping, the Dominican Republic and Palestine will send representatives to compete in dressage and Zimbabwe will send an eventer. 

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