Equestrian Dressage at the 1956 Equestrian Olympics

Dates 15 – 16 June 1956
Medal Events 2

Melbourne was selected to host the 1956 Olympic Games but at that time Australia had a strict six-month quarantine rule in place for any animals coming to the island continent. In late 1953, after some negotiation, the Australian government ruled that they would not relax the rules for the Olympics, so the IOC had no choice but to find an alternate site for the equestrian events. Several cities bid for the competitions. At the 48th IOC Session at Athinai on 13 May 1954 the IOC awarded the 1956 Equestrian Events to Stockholm, Sweden, which won the award with a majority of 25 votes. The vote was as follows:

• Stockholm, Sweden• 25• • Paris, France• 10• • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil• 8• • Berlin, Germany• 2• • Los Angeles, California, United States• 2

On 29 June 1954 the official Organizing Committee was formed, led by HRH Prince Bertil, with the formal name of “The Organizing Committee of the Equestrian Games of the XVIth Olympiad”. The equestrian events were held from 10-17 June 1956, more than five months before the main Olympic Games held in Melbourne’s summer in November-December.

There was an Opening Ceremony in Stockholm, with the equestrian events opened by HRH King Gustaf VI Adolf. There were three final torch bearers within the stadium, all coming in on their horses – Hans Wikne, Karin Lindberg, and Henri Eriksson. The athlete’s oath was spoken by Henri Saint Cyr, who was also on his horse – and presumably did not say anything. All the nations’ flag bearers carried their flags while riding their horses. As the US team passed the dignitaries’ rostrum, American rider Bill Steinkraus was aboard his horse, Night Owl, when the horse was spooked by something and reared back, throwing Steinkraus to the ground. However, he quickly calmed Night Owl and re-mounted and the ceremony went on without further problems.

In 1952 dressage had been opened to women. In 1956 at Stockholm, women were also allowed to compete in show jumping, although eventing was still for men only. Team and individual dressage events were contested concurrently in Stockholm. Henri Saint Cyr won the individual dressage and led Sweden to the team gold medal, defending the titles they had won in 1952 at Helsinki.


Event Status Date Participants NOCs
Individual, Open Olympic 15 – 16 June 1956 36 17
Team, Open Olympic 15 – 16 June 1956 24 8
36 (25/11) 17 (14/5)


Event Gold Silver Bronze
Individual, Open Henri Saint CyrSWE Lis HartelDEN Liselott LinsenhoffGER
Team, Open SwedenSWE Unified Team of GermanyGER SwitzerlandSUI

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Sweden SWE 2 0 0 2
Germany GER 0 1 1 2
Denmark DEN 0 1 0 1
Switzerland SUI 0 0 1 1