"MARKOPOULO, Greece (AP) -- Equestrian is supposed to be all about elegance, poise and politesse.
Not on Wednesday, when the Olympic three-day team event degenerated into an unprecedented free-for-all before Germany ended up with the gold -- twice.
A flurry of back-and-forth medal rulings must have made spectators feel like they were watching table tennis.
First, the judges gave Germany the gold and France the silver, while Britain took bronze.
Then they stepped in to investigate whether the clock was running when Bettina Hoy of Germany, riding Ringwood Cockatoo, crossed the start line.
The judges ended up awarding France the gold and docking Germany 12 points, dropping it from first place to fourth with 147.8 points in a decision that lifted the United States to third.
Germany responded by asking for a review by an appeals committee, which reversed the judges -- and the Germans reclaimed their gold.
"The ground jury itself realized there had been irregularities and decided to investigate what had happened,'' said Hugh Thomas of Britain, an appeals committee member.
All three nations that were bumped down planned to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, French team coach Olivier Lepage said.
"I've got the authorization of the French Federation and Olympic Committee,'' Lepage said. "We are going to do it with the American and British Federations. If we are three, it's going to have more weight.''
In its second review, the appeals committee restored the original medal order, noting that the clock running during the event on the show jumping course had malfunctioned while Hoy was competing.
"The committee concluded that the countdown had been restarted resulting in a clear injustice to the rider concerned,'' the committee said in a statement.
Lost in the shuffle was the United States, which for a fleeting moment was the bronze medalist.
David O'Connor, a former equestrian gold medalist and adviser to the American team, questioned the appeals panel's decision.
"The hard part is that it takes away from the efforts of their lifetime to get here,'' he said of the affected riders. "I find that very sad.''
The three-day event, equestrian's equivalent of the decathlon, originally was devised as a way to test cavalry horses. It includes competition focusing on dressage on the first day, cross-country jumping on the second and stadium jumping on the third day, which is designed to test a horse's ability to recover from the rigors of the second day.
The Americans fell out of medal contention when Kim Severson's Winsome Adante rolled the top plank off the last jump in the show jumping phase.
"I knew that I had let the team down,'' said Severson, of Keene, Va., after her disappointing round.
Earlier, U.S. riders also had dropped rails that added to the team total, including Darren Chiacchia of Ocala, Fla., who added 8 points on Windfall 2 and finished 12th with 52.6.
Amy Tryon had a clean round on Poggio II to finish 11th with 51.8 and Julie Richards had another clean round on Jacob Two Two to finish 23rd with 67.0, but could not improve any more from the penalty points they earned in dressage in the first phase of competition.
Tryon, a firefighter from Duvall, Wash., compared the pressure of producing a clean round in the Olympics to her job.
"It's a different kind of pressure, but the same being under the gun,'' Tryon said. "The difference is having 10 guys behind you on the hose line, while here you're out there on your own.''
Her fellow firefighters pooled their vacation time so she could take time off to compete in Athens.
In the individual three-day event later Thursday night, Hoy won the gold medal, again aboard Ringwood Cockatoo. Leslie Law of Britain won the silver with Shear l'Eau and Severson won the bronze aboard Winsome Adante."
Ze heef toevallig de startlijn gekruist vlak nadat de bel was gegaan. Daarna is ze pas echt gestart en de tijd is opnieuw ingegaan. De jury had het dus gezien want anders zou de tijd gewoon doorlopen. Ik heb hetzelfde op een int. jumping ook al eens gezien, geen haan die erover kraaide. Belachelijk van Frankrijk dat je op die manier aan een medaille moet raken.