Equitation became a sport, properly speaking, in the 20th century. Equestrian disciplines were recognised as Olympic sports for the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. With their military origin, they covered three disciplines: dressage, show jumping and the three-day event. The latter was also a derivative of the ancient military horse race championships introduced to test the strength of army horses. Until the mid-20th century, these three sports were competed by cavalry officers alone. It was not until the 1960s that equitation made its way into the civil sphere and was placed under the French Ministry of Sports (1969).
The search for an equestrian activity combining fun, horse-awareness, contact with nature and safety explains the growing development of certain disciplines.
Despite the enthusiasm they have witnessed and their implementation in current equestrian activities, the three Olympic disciplines were not the only ones to make their mark. Overall, the French Equestrian Federation recognises 29 equestrian disciplines (endurance riding, polo, driving, vaulting, TREC (competitive trail riding), pony games, work riding, etc.). For some 20 years, the search for an equestrian activity combining fun, horse-awareness, contact with nature and safety explains the growing development of certain disciplines such as Doma Vaquera, Western riding and even endurance riding. Most of these disciplines or sports stem from cultural traditions originating elsewhere. Accordingly, polo comes from Asia Minor, while the show hunter is a variation of English fox hunts. More than a sport, it is rather the belonging to and membership in a particular culture that motivate riders and is thus an approach particularly illustrated by the growing interest in the breeds specific to these practices (palomino, Iberian…).