Dressage dates back to classical Greek horsemanship and the military who trained their horses to perform movements intended to evade or attack the enemy whilst in battle. The earliest work on training horses was written by Xenophon, a Greek Military Commander born around 430 BC.
Dressage continued to be developed by the military who studied horsemanship as part of their military training and during the Renaissance European aristocrats displayed highly trained horses in equestrian pageants. The great European riding masters of the time developed a training system and the Imperial Spanish Riding School of Vienna was established in 1572 and all dressage training today is based around their principles.
Dressage become an Olympic Sport in the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm with only commissioned military officers eligible to compete until 1952 when the rules changed to allow both civilian men and women to compete.
The first Dressage organisation in the UK was the British Horse Society Dressage Group founded in 1961 that held 8 competitions in its first year with just 123 members. British Dressage was formed in 1998 as the governing body of dressage in the UK and today has over 13,000 members, more than 10,000 registered horses and runs 2,000 days of dressage competitions at venues around the UK throughout the year.
Today Dressage is a popular equestrian sport in many countries and has developed into the fastest-growing Olympic equestrian sport.