Dressage – From Military Manoeuvering to Equine Artform

The uninitiated lay person might be surprised to learn that, long before it became a competitive sport, the highly disciplined, beautiful and almost balletic synchronicity between horse and rider in the performance of Dressage, actually originated in Ancient Greece, or more precisely in the Ancient Greek Military.

Military horses were trained to perform specific manoeuvres in order to avoid, sidestep or attack the enemy. The earliest writings on military horsemanship are widely attributed to the Greek philosopher, historian and, most notably, soldier, Xenophon.

Many of the ancient equine manoeuvres are still practiced to this day. Of course, the word ‘Dressage’ itself came much later. It derives from the French word ‘dresser’ (to train). Dressage is precisely that: training!


For information on dressage events in Ireland, visit https://www.dressageireland.ie/notices/

For information on international events in, visit FEI’s website at https://www.fei.org/dressage/events

Red, blue and yellow two-tier dressage prize rosettes