Skip to content
Horse Pilot
  • Events and qualifications for Dressage at the Paris 2024 Games

    épreuves dressage équestre Versailles 2024

    Dressage competitions and qualifiers in the 2024 Olympic disciplines

    In the sumptuous setting of the Château de Versailles, transformed for the occasion, the Dressage competitions of the Paris 2024 Games promise to light up the epicenter of world sport, cultivating a spectacle of competition and camaraderie within the walls of this historic venue.

    These Games are therefore eagerly awaited as they follow in the footsteps of exemplary equestrian performances and the harmonious relationship between athletes and their horses!

    History of Dressage at the Olympic Games

    The origins of dressage and its introduction to the Games

    Once reserved for the calibrated maneuvers of war horses, dressage has evolved into a stage where precision, grace, and quiet strength combine in a captivating equestrian dance.

    Dressage was first included in the Olympic Games in Stockholm in 1912. At that time, the event was only open to men, who also had to be in the military. It wasn't until the Helsinki Games in 1952 that civilians and women were allowed to compete.

    Since then, dressage has followed a complex path, developing not only as a sporting discipline, but also as an artistic spectacle.

    Dressage highlights over the years

    Among the highlights of this Games discipline of excellence is the extraordinary track record of Germany's Isabell Werth and her horse Gigolo. Between 1992 and 1996, the pair won 4 gold and 2 silver medals, as well as individual and team world titles.

    British rider Charlotte Dujardin and her KWPN Valegro wowed the crowds at the 2012 London Olympics with a perfectly executed routine. A performance they repeated at the Rio 2016 Games before the handsome gelding was retired.

    These are just a few of the many examples that illustrate the power of Olympic dressage, where every move, every passage and every piaffe tells a story of dedication, passion and perseverance.

    The evolution of the dressage rules and tests at the Games

    The adaptations and evolutions of the dressage rules and tests reflect the progress made since the early days of the Olympic Games.

    The most striking example is the consideration given to animal welfare in this sometimes controversial discipline. In the past, dressage horses trained with the roll-curl technique moved with a strongly rounded neck and a muzzle very close to the chest. This powerful hyperflexion of the neck became known in show jumping in the 1970s. Since 2005, this technique has been the subject of heated debate, particularly between the Dutch and German equestrian authorities. Considered abusive, it was officially banned by the Fédération Équestre Internationale in February 2010. Today, only the position of the horse facing down and round is permitted, provided it is achieved without the use of force.

    As for the evolution of the discipline itself, the level of difficulty has increased significantly since 1912. Back then, expectations were fairly simple, as the recovery consisted of changes in gait and direction, circles, and hip turns. Horses also had to jump a few obstacles and move through or between various objects to demonstrate their perfect agility and obedience to commands. At that time, only military personnel could participate in the games. In 1920, the term "rassemblé" was introduced, as well as serpentines and foot changes. It was not until the 1932 Games that the passage and the piaffe appeared, and the canter pirouette was introduced in the 1936 Games.

    The size of the arena has also evolved, from 40 by 20 meters in 1912 to 60 by 20 meters today.

    Dressage at the Paris 2024 Games

    The importance of dressage in equestrian sport

    The dressage competition can be compared to a kind of equestrian ballet in which the athletes, rider and horse, must demonstrate a perfect symbiosis with their mount through precise movements, while expressing the art and emotion inherent in each movement. These figures are the very essence of dressage, weaving a web where raw strength meets gentle, measured mastery.

    It is this skillful blend that will be expected of the couples competing in the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic Games. They will have to demonstrate to the judges and the public, in the limited space of the arena and within the time allotted for their recovery, the excellence of the horsemanship that is the foundation of all other disciplines.

    Dressage qualification criteria for the Paris 2024 Games

    The qualification criteria for the dressage events at the Olympic Games are as demanding as you'd expect for an event of this magnitude. Athletes and their horses must demonstrate their ability through various world competitions to ensure they have the strength, discipline and synergy to represent their country at the highest level of equestrian sport.

    In addition, to be eligible for this competition, riders must be at least 16 years old in the year of the competition, while horses must be at least 8 years old.

    The Dressage Events at the Games

    There are three events in this prestigious competition.

    1. The Grand Prix is a compulsory test that qualifies athletes for the team and individual finals.

    2. The Grand Prix Spécial is also a compulsory test and determines the final team classification.

    3. The Grand Prix Freestyle is a freestyle with music in which the rider-horse pair performs their own composition of movements chosen from a list of authorized figures. The winner of this event is crowned Olympic Champion.

    Each of these events pushes rider-horse pairs to their limits, requiring intense concentration, meticulous preparation, and a deep mutual understanding within the pair.

    The qualification process for the dressage competitions at the Paris 2024 Games

    Individual Qualification for the Dressage Events at the Games

    Qualifying for the individual dressage events at the 2024 Olympic Games is a process marked by intense competition and decisive moments. Riders and their horses will have to demonstrate not only their technical skills, but also their ability to captivate the audience and the judges.

    That is why 14 quotas (rider-horse pairs) will be selected from the best performances in 2023. The 7 groups represented in this selection are

    • Group A: North-West Europe

    • Group B: Southwest Europe

    • Group C: Central and Eastern Europe / Central Asia

    • Group D: North America

    • Group E: Central and South America

    • Group F: Africa and Middle East

    • Group G: South East Asia and Oceania

    The pair with the highest FEI Olympic Dressage Ranking will complete this selection. A total of 15 quotas will compete individually at the 2024 Olympic Games.

    Team Qualifications for the Dressage Events at the Games

    The team qualifiers are the culmination of individual achievements into a collective effort that will pave the way to Olympic glory. Teams must not only harmonize in terms of skill, but also in terms of strategy and cohesion to create an overall performance.

    A total of 15 NOCs will participate in the 2024 Olympic Games. Each team will consist of a maximum of 3 rider-horse pairs plus 1 alternate pair. These teams include

    • The host country (France)

    • The six highest-placed teams at the 2022 FEI World Equestrian Games (Denmark, Great Britain, Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, USA)

    • The three highest-placed teams at the 2023 FEI European Dressage Championships (Groups A and B), excluding those qualified above.

    • The highest-placed team from Group C of the 2023 FEI Olympic Qualification Event

    • The two highest-ranked teams from Groups D and/or E of the 2023 Pan American Games.

    • The highest-placed team from Group F at the 2022 FEI World Dressage Championships or, failing that, at the FEI Olympic Qualification Event

    • The highest-placed team in Group G at the 2022 FEI World Dressage Championships or, failing that, at the FEI Olympic Qualifying Event.

    Dressage Rules and Requirements

    Technical and Artistic Rules for Dressage in Individual Competition

    In the individual competition, the judges, positioned around the arena and armed with an expert and critical eye, will analyze each transition, each posture of the horse, as well as the effectiveness of the rider's non-verbal communication as he or she attempts to perform an impeccable routine.

    Each dressage routine consists of a series of compulsory figures, each of which is scored from 0 points (figure not performed) to 10 points (figure performed perfectly). The rider's position and the discretion of his requests are also scored. The total score is expressed as a percentage. The pair with the highest percentage wins.

    Technical and artistic rules for team dressage competitions

    In team events, coordination is key. Each member must excel not only in individual performance, but also in team presentation, where stylistic and technical differences between the riders must be harmoniously blended into a fluid, synchronized performance.

    At the end of the Grand Prix, the top 8 teams qualify for the Grand Prix Special, the finals of the team dressage competition. The scores of the three pairs will count towards the final standings.

    Favourites and odds for the dressage competitions at the Paris 2024 Games

    The favorite riders and horses for the individual dressage competitions at the 2024 Games

    One of the favorites for the individual dressage events at the Paris 2024 Games is, of course, Isabell Werth. The German is the first rider to win 7 Olympic gold medals. Previously associated with Gigolo or Bella Rose, Isabell Werth will compete this time with her mare Superb or her stallion Quantaz.

    Three-time British gold medalist Charlotte Dujardin is also an athlete to watch at the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic Games. After shining with Valegro and then Gio, the rider will be associated with another mount for this new edition of the Olympics!

    The leading countries in the dressage team competition at Versailles 2024

    The team competition will be a fierce battle between the major dressage nations. Germany, with its rich tradition and consistent presence on the Olympic podium, will be in the spotlight. However, Denmark, Great Britain and the USA are also vying for the top spot, buoyed by their talented teams and successes in recent competitions.

    The evolution of dressage at the Games of Versailles

    The history of dressage at the Games since its first appearance

    Although its roots are firmly planted in military terrain, dressage has undergone a spectacular transformation since its first Olympic appearance, becoming a mixed discipline where both sexes compete in the same events. Moreover, it is no longer the horse's obedience that is rewarded, but the harmony and fluidity of movement. Last but not least, the artistic dimension of this type of equitation is emphasized by the introduction of music in the titles.

    Recent Changes and Innovations in Dressage at the Games

    Recent innovations, such as the use of music in the Special Grand Prix at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, aim to make this discipline more accessible and attractive to the public. Today's dressage events offer a complete spectacle, combining equestrian mastery with exhilarating entertainment.


    Dressage at the Paris 2024 Games in Versailles is a spectacle not to be missed. Between the beauty of the movements, the emotion of the competition and the stakes of the qualifiers, the dressage competitions at the Paris 2024 Games promise to be unforgettable. As the athletes prepare for this great event, we look forward to seeing who will take gold in Paris!

    Dressage riding outfits