A bluffer’s guide to dressage at the 2022 World Championships in Herning

  • Dressage is one of four sports taking place at the FEI World Championships in Herning this month, alongside showjumping, vaulting and para dressage, and the competition is set to be extremely exciting.

    The World Dressage Championships take place every four years, attracting the best combinations from around the globe to battle it out to be crowned world champion.

    The 2022 World Dressage Championships follows a different format to the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, but is instead in line with previous world and European dressage championships.

    There are 95 combinations entered to start the competition, among them 20 teams, and all these combinations, both those on teams and those competing as individuals will ride the grand prix, which takes place on Saturday, 6 August and Sunday, 7 August. This test will form the team competition, with medals awarded to teams based solely on grand prix scores. Three scores will count from each team, with teams of four riders dropping the lowest score.

    The grand prix also acts as a qualifier for the first of the individual competitions – the grand prix special. The top 30 combinations from the grand prix will progress to the grand prix special, which takes place on Monday, 8 August. The first set of individual medals will be awarded according to results in this test, and the gold medallist is crowned individual world champion.

    The top 15 combinations from the special will qualify for the grand prix freestyle, with no more than three riders per nation permitted to move forward to this final individual competition. A second set of individual medals will be awarded based on the results of the freestyle, which takes place under floodlights on the evening of Wednesday, 10 August, and the gold medallist is crowned freestyle world champion. There is no overall world champion if two different combinations win the special and the freestyle.

    World Dressage Championships: facts and figures

    The first FEI dressage World Championship took place in 1966. In 1990 the dressage World Championship was incorporated in the World Equestrian Games (WEG) alongside showjumping, eventing, vaulting, driving, reining, endurance and, from 2010, para dressage, and WEG took place every four years from 1990 to 2018. In 2022, Herning hosts four separate world championships, but it is not WEG.

    Germany has a formidable track record when it comes to World Dressage Championships, with a German team having won every team title to date, bar two – Germany was beaten by the Netherlands in 2010 and West Germany by the Soviet Republic in 1970. The Netherlands is the next most successful nation in world championships, with one gold, four silver and one bronze medal to date. Britain has won two silvers and a bronze at world championships.

    The current reigning world champion team is Germany, who won gold in 2018. Germany’s Isabell Werth was crowned 2018 world individual champion when she won gold in the special on Bella Rose. She took the title from Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin, who won double gold on Valegro in 2014, with the highest score ever achieved at a dressage World Championship – 92.16% in the freestyle. The 2018 freestyle was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence, meaning that Charlotte is still the reigning world freestyle champion.

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