Dressage timeline

We chart the history of the sport globally plus key milestones and record achievements for Britain.

680 BC GREECE: Horse sport is introduced to the Ancient Olympic Games.
350 BC (approx) GREECE: General Xenophon developed his sympathetic and systematic training of the horse and produces ‘On Horsemanship’.
1532 ITALY: First riding school teaching dressage set up by Neapolitan nobleman Federico Grisone
1556 ITALY: Fiaschi puts down notes of music suitable to accompany a horse’s gait and dressage to music is born.
1594 FRANCE: Antoine de Pluvinel founded his “Academie d'Equitation" to teach horsemanship to the nobility.  He was the first advocate of kind, humane training methods after Xenophon
1612 FRANCE: Pluvinel composes a ‘horse ballet’ to honour the engagement of Louis XIII to Anne of Austria which leaves the crowds spellbound
1634 BRITAIN: William Cavendish builds a ‘riding house’ at Bolsover Castle ahead of a visit of Charles I, this was the model for modern-day dressage arenas.
1658 BRITAIN: William Cavendish publishes ‘A General System of Horsemanship’ in exile and the concept of dressage is born in Great Britain.   Military training of the horse moves away from the brutality of the mounted knight towards the agile cavalry horse.
1729 FRANCE: Francois Robichon de la Gueriniere, ecuyer of The School of Versailles, publishes Ecole de Cavalerie.
1735 AUSTRIA: Spanish Riding School established in Vienna
1873 AUSTRIA: The first known dressage competition is held in Pressberg.
1895 FRANCE: The Societe Equestre de I'Etrier holds it's first dressage competition in Paris.
1912 SWEDEN: Dressage first appears in the Olympics in Stockholm but it wasn’t the same type of test as we know today.
1921 SWITZERLAND: The FEI is formed in Lausanne.
1927 SWITZERLAND: The first FEI Grand Prix is staged outside the Olympics in Lucerne.
1936 GERMANY: Modern day dressage movements used in the Olympic Dressage Test with 22 movements that lasted 17 minutes.
1952 FINLAND: Women and non-commissioned officers allowed to compete at the Olympics in Helsinki.
1955 BRITAIN: First ever Dressage National Championships are held with Brenda Williams crowned National Champion.
1956 SWEDEN: Britain is first represented in dressage at the Olympics in Stockholm.
1958 Intermediare is introduced as a level at FEI competitions.
1961 BRITAIN: The Dressage Group is set up under the auspices of the British Horse Society. In its first year it had 123 members and held eight competitions.
1963 The concept of the FEI European Championships is born.
1966 GERMANY: First ever World Championship for Dressage held in Bern.
1973 First Junior European Dressage Championships are held.
1977 SWITZERLAND: First ever Dressage European Championship held at St Gallen.
1978 BRITAIN: Jennie Loriston-Clarke wins Britain’s first senior individual medal – bronze in the World Championships at Goodwood with Dutch Courage
1978 First Pony European Dressage Championships are held.
1979 BRITAIN: Goodwood CDI hosts the first ever international dressage to music competition.
1981 Young Rider is added as an FEI age category.
1986 The FEI introduces the Dressage World Cup with 50% placed on the Grand Prix test and 50% on the Freestyle
1987 First Para World Championship held in Sweden.
1991 GERMANY: Two sets of individual medals are awarded for the first time for the Grand Prix Special and Freestyle at the European Championships in Donaueschingen.
1993 SLOVENIA: Britain claims its first ever senior championship team and individual medals at the Europeans in Lipica - team silver for Emile Faurie, Laura Fry, Richard Davison and Ferdi Eilberg, plus individual bronze for Emile.
1996 Para Equestrian recognised as an FEI equestrian discipline and forms part of the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics
1996 USA: The freestyle test added to the Olympic competition in Atlanta so that riders have the chance of two individual medals.
1998 British Dressage is established as the national governing body for the sport in Great Britain.
2004 BRITAIN: Dressage comes to London as Olympia hosts a CDI-W for the first time.
2006 Para dressage becomes an official FEI discipline.
2009 BRITAIN: Laura Bechtolsheimer becomes Britain’s first double individual European Championships medallist – two bronzes at Windsor.
2010 USA: Para-dressage is part of the World Equestrian Games for the first time in Lexington. Britain claimed its first ever team World Championship medal too - silver for Carl Hester, Laura Bechtolsheimer, Fiona Bigwood and Maria Eilberg.
2011 THE NETHERLANDS: Britain become European Champions for the first time with the team of Carl Hester, Laura Bechtolsheimer, Charlotte Dujardin and Emile Faurie in Rotterdam.
2012 BRITAIN: Our first ever Olympic medal – team gold in London with Charlotte Dujardin, Carl Hester and Laura Bechtolsheimer. Charlotte Dujardin went on to take individual gold with Valegro and Laura Bechltosheimer individual bronze with Mistral Hojris.
2013 ITALY: Britain wins its first ever European under 21 individual medal – Phoebe Peters riding SL Lucci takes individual and freestyle golds at the FEI Pony European Championships in Arezzo.
2014 British Dressage granted charitable status on 15 January. 
2014 FRANCE: Charlotte Dujardin wins Britain's first ever individual world championship gold medal with Valegro in Normandy.
2015 SWEDEN: Phoebe Peters and SL Lucci inspire the pony team to take a first ever team gold for Britain in Malmo with all four riders scoring over 70%.
2016 BRAZIL: Charlotte Dujardin writes her own place in history as the first ever woman to successfully retain an Olympic title in Rio. Valegro is retired later that year.
2018 British Dressage reaches £2 million target for financial reserves.