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Masanao Takahashi and FabrianoMasanao Takahashi and Fabriano clinched a qualifying spot at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games for Japan at the special Olympic Dressage qualifying competition staged in Perl, Germany
photo FEI

It can be a little confusing trying to figure out which dressage countries have punched their team ticket for Rio given the new formula for these Olympic Games.

The FEI’s qualification rules can be found here.

FEI Olympic Groups used in determining qualification quotas are:

  • Group A (North Western Europe)
  • Group B (South Western Europe)
  • Group C (Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia)
  • Group D (North America)
  • Group E (Central and South America)
  • Group F (Africa and the Middle East)
  • Group G (South East Asia, Oceania)


In total, there is a maximum of 60 athlete-horse combinations (10 teams plus 20 individuals plus 1 possible composite team) who will be cantering up the centreline in Rio.
As the host country, Brazil automatically will take 4 of those spots.  
The remaining countries who have qualified teams include:

  • Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands (top three finishers at the 2014 World Equestrian Games)
  • Spain, Sweden and France (top finishers at the 2015 European Championships excluding those countries already qualified)
  • United States (top finisher at the 2015 Pan American Games)
  • Australia (top ranked team from FEI  Groups F & G from 2014 World Equestrian Games)
  • Japan (top ranked team from FEI Groups C, F & G at an FEI approved special qualification event which held at the Perl, Germany CDI2*)  bringing the total number of teams to 10.<br /><br />Along with those 10 teams, whose athletes take up 40 of the available spots, there are 20 starting places to be filled individually. If a country can qualify at least three athletes as individuals, they can join the team competition as a composite team of three or four.

20 Individuals

This will use the FEI Olympic Athlete Ranking list, which denotes a pre-determined list of qualifying FEI competitions where the best 4 results per athlete/horse combo between March 9, 2015 – March 6, 2016 is used.
This is organized as follows, and where the word “athlete” is used, it is actually the country whose athlete achieved the result (ie. it’s not  the athlete themselves who is guaranteed a ticket to Rio) :

  1. 14 athletes according to the FEI Groups
    • Groups A, B, C (6 Quota places): The first and second place athlete in each Group on the FEI Olympic Athletes Ranking
    • Groups D, E (4 Quota places):  The first place athlete in each Group on the FEI Olympic Athletes Ranking INCLUDING the highest ranking athletes from the Grand Prix at the 2015 Pan American Games (which is Canada and Mexico)
    • Groups F & G (4 Quota places): The first place athlete on the FEI Olympic Athletes Ranking  INCLUDING the highest ranked athletes from the Grand Prix at the FEI special qualification event (Perl CDI2* which is South Africa & Korea)
  2. 6 athletes from the best ranked in the FEI Olympic Ranking Athletes from countries who HAVE NOT already qualified an individual quota place for their FEI Group at the Pan Ams, Perl CDI2*, the FEI Olympic Ranking list above or who have qualified a team.

See the FEI Olympic Athlete Ranking list – updated as of August 31, 2015

Megan Lane and Caravella 2015 Pan American Games DressageMegan Lane & Caravella is the top Canadian in the overall FEI Olympic Athlete Ranking List, currently ranked 16th
photo Globe and Mail

2016 Rio Olympics FEI Dressage Ranking LIst

And finally…..Composite Team
There is an opportunity for a non-qualified country to create a composite team (min of 3 to a max of 4 horse/rider combos).
This is determined by using the Individual Qualification mentioned above.

Wait, there’s more! Minimum Eligibility Requirements
Not to be forgotten, is the all important minimum eligibility requirements which must be achieved by all horse/rider combinations who are to compete at the Rio Olympics.
This means twice achieving a minimum of 64% in the Grand Prix at 2 different CDI3*, 4*, 5*, CDI-W, CDIO between January 1, 2015 and June 19, 2016.
This might be where Brazil falls short in being unable to form a complete team and could open the door to others.

Yes….that was as exhausting to type as it was to read.

As you can see from the above list, there are a number of dressage countries who are missing on the “already qualified” list including: Austria, Denmark, Belgium, Switzerland and of course Canada to name just a few.

The race for Rio is certainly not over, and it will be interesting to see both who can qualify a composite team as well as how the individual quota slots shake out.

Stay tuned!


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