The Olympic sport of Eventing is the most complete combined competition discipline recognised by the FEI. Sometimes described as an equestrian triathlon, Eventing demands considerable experience in all branches of equitation.
Eventing originated as a military competition which tested officers and horses in challenges that could occur on or off duty. It also provided a basis to compare training standards between the cavalries of different countries. The modern competition comprises dressage, cross-country and jumping on consecutive days. The competitor rides the same horse throughout the three phases.
Cross-country is the highlight, testing the speed, stamina and jumping ability of the horse, as well as the rider’s knowledge of pace and the use of his horse. The course will have between 25 and 45 specially constructed jumps over solid obstacles such as logs, woodpiles and stone walls, with water and ditches increasing the technical difficulty.
Eventing has a huge following with crowds of up to 250,000 recorded at the British spring feature at Badminton. In 1976 the Princess Royal was a member of the British Olympic team, and her daughter, Zara Phillips, is also an accomplished Event rider. Meanwhile New Zealand’s Mark Todd wrote a 112-page biography of his horse Charisma, with whom he twice won the Olympic Eventing title.
A demonstration of Olympic spirit and determination at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, where the first three Australians were well ahead of the field when one of their horses went lame, saw their fourth rider, 45-year-old Bill Roycroft, who had broken his collarbone in the cross-country, leave his hospital bed, to go clear in the Jumping and secure team gold for Australia.
Eventing demands of the competitor considerable experience in all branches of equitation and a precise knowledge of the horse’s ability and of the horse a degree of competence resulting from intelligent and rational training. It covers all round riding ability and horsemanship: the harmony between horse and rider that characterise Dressage; the contact with nature, precise knowledge of the horses ability and extensive experience essential for the Cross Country; the precision, agility and technique involved in Jumping.
Eventing is one of the three disciplines in competition at the Olympic Games, the other two being Jumping and Dressage.
Modern competitions consist of three distinct tests: Dressage, Cross-Country and Jumping. They take place on separate consecutive days during which a competitor rides the same horse throughout.
1. Dressage Test After an opening Horse Inspection, a Dressage test is performed, the object of which is the harmonious development of the physique and ability of the horse. The test consists of a series of compulsory movements at walk, trot and canter gaits, within a rectangular arena 60 m. long and 20 m. wide. To perform a good Dressage test, the horse needs to be flexible and fluid. To keep the strong Eventing horses under the firm control required by the exacting Dressage movements involves great knowledge and understanding. A good Dressage test lays the foundation for the rest of the competition and horses that are found wanting in this phase face an uphill struggle to get up amongst the prize-winners.
2. Cross-Country Test The focus of the entire event is on the Cross-Country test, the objective of which is to test the ability of athletes and horses to adpat to different and variable conditions (weather, terrain, obstacles, footing etc...) and jumping ability of the horse, while at the same time demonstrating the rider’s knowledge of pace and the use of his horse. Exceeding the time allowed and refusals result in penalties. All penalties are added together and recorded for inclusion in the final classification. Fall of a horse and/or of a rider entails immediate elimination.
3. Jumping Test The Jumping test takes place on the last day after a second Horse Inspection. Riders may voluntarily retire their horses if they seem unfit to continue. This test is run in reverse order of merit and its main objective is to prove that the horses have retained their suppleness, energy and obedience in order to jump a course of 11 to 15 obstacles.
The winning individual is the competitor with the lowest total of penalty points. The winning team is the one with the lowest total of penalty points, after adding together the final scores of the three highest placed competitors in the team.
The Premier Eventing Competitions are...
FEI World Equestrian Games
FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing