The history of Equestrian sport dates back over 2,000 years, to when the Greeks introduced Dressage training to prepare their horses for war.
It continued to develop as a military exercise through the Middle Ages, with the Three Day Event - which includes Dressage, Cross Country and Show Jumping tests - designed to reflect the range of challenges horses faced in the army.
In its modern form, Equestrian owes much to its inclusion in the Olympic Games, which led to the creation of the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) in 1921.
Through its development of international competitions, the FEI has helped to spread the popularity of horse sport outside its traditional army base.
Historically, Eventing was the military mission of a cavalry officer that had to deliver a message through enemy lines and back to his base. The first Eventing competition was recorded in France in 1902 and became an Olympic sport in 1912. Eventing in the UK started in 1949 when Badminton Horse Trials were held for the first time. Since then, Britain has become one of the most successful nations in the history of the sport
Jumping was the first Equestrian discipline, which was included in the Paris 1900 Olympic Games. In the 1906 IOC Congress in Athens, the Count Clarence von Rosen, Master of the Horse to the King of Sweden, under the guidelines of the IOC President Pierre De Coubertin, formed a detailed proposal to include all three Equestrian disciplines in the Olympic Games.
The IOC accepted von Rosen’s proposal but it was after a 12-year interval that Jumping, together with Dressage and Eventing were included in the competition schedule of the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm. Since then, these three Olympic disciplines have been part of the Olympic Games, with minor modifications in the way they are conducted.
It is worth mentioning that, until 1952, only men riders who were cavalry officers could participate in the Olympic Games. Starting from 1952, under an IOC decision, these restrictions were lifted, and both men (civilians) and women were given the chance to compete in the three Olympic disciplines, under common rules of evaluation and marking.
The International Equestrian Federation (Fédération Equestre Internationale – FEI), which was founded in 1921, is the governing body of the Equestrian Sport and includes 135 member countries.