There are many riding disciplines from dressage to long distance riding, but today I will look into three-day eventing. As the name suggests, three day eventing is held over three days! There are lots of big three day events all over the country, from Badminton to Burghley (in Britain) and Lexington to Kentucky (in the US).
Phase 1 – Dressage
The first phase is dressage, where the horse and rider perform complex movements. Low level dressage begins with simple schooling movements, and high level (Grand Prix) dressage involve very complex movements such as piaffe and passage. The dressage held at three day events is a lot less complex, because the riders are not specialist dressage riders, and many only do it to be in for a chance in the eventing! Movements such as counter-canter, pirouettes and half pass are performed, to show harmony between horse and rider.
The higher the percentage, the better the result. On the other hand, another score is counted up. For this, a LOWER score is better, because it is the addition of all the faults and penalties!
Phase two – Cross Country (XC)
The second phase is cross-country, where the horse and rider jump obstacles made of hardwood and other similar materials. The most important point is that the jumps are not knock-able, and if horse or rider mis-judges the striding or jump, a nasty accident could ensue. Therefore, this discipline requires skill and good judgement. Steps, tiger traps, coffins and logs are the most simple jumps. Larger venues have their own trademark jumps, such as the Cottesmore leap at Burghley, which is wider than a land rover. Therefore we can conclude that: Cross-country needs control and coordination between horse and rider and demands skill and good judgement.
There is also a strict time limit, and going over this induces time penalties. A run-out, or refusal gives 20 faults, and a fall gives 60, or, at some venue’s, elimination.
Phase Three – Show Jumping (SJ)
The third and final day sees the final phase, the show jumping. This is also a discipline on its own. It involves jumping vividly painted fences with knock-able poles. Lots of spooky coloured fillers and flowers are added, and sharp turns, extremely narrow fences and daredevil races against the clock make it all the more fun! Faults are induced in the following ways…
- Horse refusing (stopping in front of a jump as a direct refusal to a command (ie, jump the fence)),
- Running out (running off to the side of the fence, also a direct way to say no!)
- Jumping the wrong jump (A rider error. This is not very common, because the riders work hard to remember the course!)
- Knocking a pole down
Each refusal or run-out results in 4 faults, and 3 refusals result in elimination. Falling off, or jumping the wrong jump also results in elimination! Knocking a pole gives 4 faults, then 8, then 12! Show Jumping also has a time restriction, and every second or fraction of a second over the optimum time gives 1 penalty.
Show jumping needs lots of control and co-ordination, and a horse must be able to execute sharp turns, and shorten or lengthen his stride on command.
Eventers don’t just spontaneously become eventers, it takes lots of hard work and determination to get to, and stay at, the top.
A child can join the pony club, where there is the opportunity to do prelimary dressage and showjumping classes, as well as small one-day events.
Adults can participate in Riding Clubs, or BE (British eventing) events. BE 80 has a maximum height of around 0.85m, BE90 0.95m and BE100 is 1.05m. After this comes novice eventing which is about 1.10m for XC, 1.20 for SJ and the Intermediate, at 1.15, and 1.25 for SJ. Finally, advanced is 1.20 for XC and 1.30 for SJ.