Sergey Filatov took up equestrian competition at 27-years-old, while serving in the Soviet Army under the command of marshal Semyon Budyonny. Budyonny, a horse sport enthusiast and a renowned horse breeder was ashamed by the results of the Soviet horse riders at the 1952 Olympics and decided to establish his own riding school, where he himself handpicked the riders from the regiment he commanded. Filatov was one of the chosen and soon rose to be among the top dressage riders in the country. In 1954, when Filatov had been in the sport less than a year, he won his first of eight Soviet titles, the rest coming in a row from 1957-63. Filatov made his international début at the 1956 Olympics, where he was 11th individually and fourth with the team. At the 1960 Olympics, Filatov and his horse Absent, with whom he had trained since 1958, made history by becoming the first Soviet horse-rider pair to win an Olympic gold. Four years later they added two Olympic bronzes to their medal collection. Filatov continued riding until the 1968 Olympics, but when he was not selected to the Soviet 1968 Olympic team, he quit sports. After his sporting career, Filatov worked as a riding coach in Moscow and later opened his own riding school in Moscow.