After the IOC awarded the Games of the XVIth Olympiad to Melbourne in Victoria, Australia they learned that Australian quarantine laws required a six-month quarantine period for horses entering the country. As the six-month quarantine made it impractical for competitors’ horses to be transported to Australia, this precluded Melbourne from being able to host the equestrian events at the 1956 Olympic Games. It was decided, actually in violation of the Olympic Charter, to contest separate Equestrian Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden, from 10 through 17 June 1956. At the 50th IOC Session in Athens on 13 May 1954, Stockholm was chosen to host the Equestrian Olympics over Paris, France; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Berlin, Germany; and Los Angeles, California, USA. The 1956 Equestrian Games were held without major political incidents, although some would occur a few months later and affect the Games in Melbourne in November. The Opening Ceremony was quite unusual as all competitors came in on their mounts, including the flag bearers. Hans Wikne brought the Olympic Flame into the stadium on horseback and lit the main torch. Karin Lindberg and Henry Eriksson held lighted torches, ran towards the stadium tower with the torches and lit flames there. Sweden’s Henri Saint Cyr recited the Oath of the Athletes while on his horse, and later won two gold medals in individual and team dressage. This was matched by Germany’s Hans Günter Winkler, who won gold medals in the individual and team show jumping events.
Women competed in the equestrian events, as they had in 1952. Women had competed in 1952 only in dressage while at Stockholm there were female competitors in both dressage and jumping events, but not yet eventing. The only controversy of the 1956 Equestrian Games came in the three-day event when one horse broke his leg and had to be destroyed. The SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) was very upset and a lengthy debate followed.