The dressage phase begins every eventing competition. In French, dressage means “training.” Performed in an enclosed arena, the dressage test comprises a set series of movements ridden by each competitor at the designated level. The purpose of the dressage test is to demonstrate the level of communication between the horse and rider and the power and grace required to perform each movement with balance, rhythm, and suppleness. Due to the demands of the sport, the three-day event horse is extremely fit, and only strong and tactful riders possess the skills needed to harness and direct that energy into a polished and powerful performance.
The object of the cross country test is to prove the speed, endurance, and jumping ability of the horse over varied terrain and obstacles. The cross-country course covers approximately 2.75 to 4 miles, along which sit 24-36 fixed and solid obstacles. This phase is ridden at a gallop, with exact speed requirements depending on the level of competition. Cross-country courses require horses and riders to be bold and smart, while testing their physical stamina. Penalties can be accrued through jumping errors (horse refuses or runs out at an obstacle, rider falls off on course, etc.) or by exceeding the optimum time allowed.
Sited in an enclosed show jumping area, the course comprises a series of colored fences made of lightweight rails that are easily knocked down. This final phase tests the stamina and recovery of the horse after the endurance phase and shows that it is fit enough to continue work. The courses are designed to test the horse’s and rider’s ability to negotiate a variety of fences of differing heights, widths, and technicality. This requires the horse be balanced and supple for tight turns and short distances between fences. He must be able to lengthen or shorten his stride instantaneously. The rider must know exactly where he is on the approach to a fence, with an obedient horse that will respond to his commands.
At the end of the competition, scores for all the competitors are totaled. Each test is scored individually and the penalties accrued are combined for the final results. The lowest score is the winning score. Eventing is the only high-risk Olympic sport where men and women compete as equals, with no separate divisions.
More information on this dynamic equestrian sport is available on the USEA website: www.useventing.com
Text adapted from USEA website
Another Take on
the Sport of Eventing
For a humorous view on attending your first event, read The First Six Months – Advice to all those dating or wed to an eventer. An article written for the Area 1 News by Katie’s boyfriend, Roger Demers, it shares some advice for those new to the sport.