Swedish Equestrian Federation Celebrates 100th Birthday

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Eric Lette, recipient of the lifetime achievement award, Sweden's Queen Silvia (center) and Swedish Equestrian Federation President Anders Mellberg during celebration of federation's centenary. © Swedish Equestrian Federation

The Swedish Equestrian Federation celebrated its 100th birthday at a glittering party Wednesday night in Stockholm City Hall.

Sweden’s  Queen Silvia was guest of honor along with London 2012 Olympic silver medallist Sara Algotsson Ostholt, Rolf-Göran Bengtsson, who headed the Rolex Rankings from December 2011 through September 2012, and Endurance rider Maria Hagman-Eriksson, the first Swedish rider to lead an FEI ranking list when she became World No. 1 on the Meydan Open Riders World Rankings in September 2011.

The Swedish Equestrian Awards Gala was incorporated into the centenary celebrations and the honorary lifetime achievement award went to FEI5* dressage judge Eric Lette. Ulf Rosengren, organizer of the inaugural World Equestrian Games in 1990 and the Stockholm Horse Show whose 2012 edition kicks off Thursday, was honored as the organizer of the century.

The Swedish Equestrian Federation was established in 1912, the year when equestrian sport made its first appearance in the Olympics, that were held in Stockholm. Sweden is not the oldest national federation, however, as that distinction goes to Belgium whose Comité Central Hippique Belge was created in 1898.

Count Clarence von Rosen, Master of the Horse to the Swedish King and International Olympic Committee member, had been campaigning for the introduction of equestrian sports in the Olympics since 1906 and when the count was given the task of organizing the 1912 Games, the inclusion of equestrian sport was undisputed. Count von Rosen also proposed the three Olympic disciplines of Jumping, Dressage and Eventing that are still used today.

Nine years later in 1921, Sweden was one of the eight founding members of the FEI.

In 1956 the Olympic equestrian events returned to Stockholm, when Australian veterinary restrictions and a six-month pre-shipment quarantine kept them out of the Melbourne Games.

Stockholm is one of only three cities–London and Los Angeles being the others–to have twice hosted Olympic equestrian events.

Sweden was instrumental in the creation of yet another milestone in the history of international equestrian sport when in 1990 more than 420 participants from 37 countries gathered in Stockholm for the first edition of what has become the FEI’s flagship event: the FEI World Equestrian Games. For the first time the world championships in all the FEI disciplines were held at the same time in the same city.

“The contribution of Sweden to international equestrian sport is immense,” FEI Secretary General Ingmar De Vos told the gala dinner.

“We are proud that our Olympic history began in a country which loves and understands horse sport. The Swedish have always been one of the world’s leading equestrian nations and were one of seven countries to send full teams in all three Olympic equestrian disciplines to this summer’s London Olympic Games.

“On behalf of the FEI, I would like to congratulate the Swedish equestrian community as it celebrates 100 years since the creation of the National Federation. And, as is customary in Sweden, I raise my glass to the friend who unites us all and inspires us to greater things–the horse!”

Sweden has participated in the equestrian events of all of the Olympic Games since 1912, except for Mexico 1968 and Moscow 1980.

Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén is the Swedish rider with the most Olympic participations. She has competed in dressage at all six Olympics since Barcelona 1992.

Henry St-Cyr is the Swedish rider with the most Olympic medals–two team and two individual golds.

Gothenburg has hosted the FEI World Cup Jumping Final 12 times (1979, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001 and 2008). The Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping Final 2013 will take place in Gothenburg from April 24-28.

Gothenburg has hosted the FEI World Cup Dressage Final six times (1989, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2003). The Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final 2013 will be heldin Gothenburg as well from April 24-28.