What is Eventing?
Eventing was devised to be a test of a horse’s obedience, courage and stamina and is made up of three different phases - Dressage, Show Jumping & Speed and Cross Country. It is one of the very few sports where men and women compete on an equal basis, and British riders have an enviable record of success. We are known in Britain to have some of the best facilities in the world, and in order to take advantage of them, many top riders from overseas move over here to compete and progress in their sport.
Horses, not riders, are graded and start their Eventing careers in classes where the fences are 80cm (BE80) and progress on to BE100 and thereafter to Novice, Intermediate and Advanced events such as Badminton and Burghley.
In the competition the same rider must complete each of the three phases, and the scoring is done on a penalty system - in other words, marks are deducted for less than perfect movements in the Dressage test (and a calculation is done by the team of scorers to convert that so that the lowest score is the best), for knocking down or refusing a Show Jump, or for similar problems incurred on the Cross Country course where the rider strives to achieve the optimum time. The rider who finishes with the lowest score in each section (competitors are divided into sections to make the logistics of running the competition a little easier) is the winner.
In the Dressage phase the horse and rider are required to perform a simple set test which demonstrates the suppleness and obedience of the horse, and its willingness to execute its rider’s commands - even to the untrained eye it is often apparent which competitors are unlikely to score highly in this part of the competition!
The Show Jumping phase is also a demonstration of a horse’s obedience and the disciplined relationship that is so important between horse and rider. At the same time it is an opportunity for the horse to show its athleticism and ability to jump.
The Cross Country phase exerts most influence on the competition since it requires that horses have an ability to jump, that they are fit, supple and obedient, and that they have courage and stamina. The Cross Country course is designed to really test the relationship that exists between horse and rider, as not only are competitors trying to jump clear over a demanding set of fences, but they are also trying to achieve the optimum time.
For logistical purposes competitors are divided into sections with a maximum of 42 in each section. We have up to seven sections (and therefore seven sets of prizewinners) each day.