How and when was dressage invented?

Question

There are many differing opinions on when dressage was actually invented. I would love to know what you’ve heard or know?

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Answer ( 1 )

  1. Dressage developed in the 18th and 19th centuries out of cavalry training techniques and social preoccupations, and has steadily arisen to become a competitive sport practiced by about six million people.

    The history of dressage is not very definite; some say it started dating back to Ancient Egyptians or Spartans. The practice originated either from the need for battlefield commanders to control their troops’ horses or because military units traveling with VIPs may have needed mounted escorts.

    Whatever its precise origin, the discipline’s evolution can be closely linked with that of equestrianism in general; for example, new riding styles were invented that would help turn about on horseback during battle (hence the term “changing around” still used in dressage today).

    The horse ridden in classical dressage was not just a work horse and war horse, but also a ceremonial horse. It was ridden by kings and princes and often paraded to honor military victories. The horse became progressively more important as the balance of power between countries shifted from the heavily armored knight on foot or horseback to mounted troops. At the peak of horsemanship, horse owners began to look for ways to make horseback riding more interesting for their horse as well as to make it safer.

    A Frenchman named Antoine de Pluvinel is widely credited with inventing dressage. He was a courtier who wrote one of the first manuals on horse care and horsemanship in 1623. He was also a horseman and is reputed to have taught King Louis XIII’s brother, Gaston of Orleans, all he knew about horsemanship.

    In the 19th century, when Europe had fallen into disarray after Napoleon Bonaparte’s conquest of France, horsemanship became less important than horse breeding. In Germany, horse breeding received a strong boost through the work of Federico Grisone, who promoted riding horse breeds selectively bred for suitability in horse sports.

    Grussinne focused on producing quality rather than quantity and used careful selective breeding to achieve it. He rode many of his horses himself and came up with a system that eventually became the modern horse show.

    In 1891, Grussinne founded a horse riding school in Naples which he named Scuola di Equitazione (School of Riding). His horsemanship attracted wealthy clientele, including the future King Umberto I of Italy who became honorary president of SCUOLA.

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