What is the Equestrian Sport of Eventing?

Eventing Horse Going Cross Country

Eventing is the equestrian sport that tests a horse and rider combination across three different disciplines: dressage, cross-country, and show jumping (stadium jumping). Originally the sport developed from the Calvary test. The competition can be run in a one-day or a three-day format (the three day format is now being more commonly run as a four-day). The three phases of the eventing format test each horse and rider combo. The dressage phase tests the rider and horse’s harmony and obedience. The cross-country phase tests the horse and rider’s stamina, bravery, and trust. The final phase, the stadium jumping, test the horse and rider’s technical skills, fitness level, and athleticism. The following will break down each of the phases: the scoring, obstacles, and the challenges of each phase.


Dressage:  The dressage phase is a pattern of distinct movements meant to test the horse and rider’s harmony, rhythm, suppleness, and obedience. Typical movements seen in this dressage test include, circles, leg-yield, half-pass, shoulder-in, travers, flying changes, counter-canter, collected, medium, and extended gaits. Each movement is judged on a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the highest. The final average score is then converted into penalty points. This is done through subtraction and then multiplied by a co-efficient (decided by the governing body). For example score of 78 is convert to penalty points by (100-78) X 1.5= 33 penalty points.  The biggest challenge this phase presents for horse and rider is that you have to train a fit horse capable of cross-country, but then turn around and perform a graceful and relaxed dressage test. The dressage work is the base from which the other phases are competed. One can say dressage is the foundation discipline, it develops strength and balance for riders to take on the fences of the cross-country and stadium jumping phases. 


Cross-Country: The cross-country phase tests the horse and rider’s stamina, fitness, and trust in one another. The course can contain 12-40 obstacles depending on the competition level outside the arena. These are sold naturally built obstacles that can include ponds, streams, ditches, drops, banks, and combinations. Due to safety regulations, some of these obstacles are now being built on a pin system allowing for part of the jump to collapse if hit. Speed is also a factor in this phase. A horse and rider are required to complete the course within an optimum time. If outside this time; penalties points are awarded. The scoring for the cross-country phase is the addition of penalty points to the accrued dressage penalty points. These penalty points can be added from a variety of faults around the cross-country course. Refusals or run-out from an obstacle will add penalty points.  It is 20 points for the first refusal, 40 for the second, and a third refusal in a round causes elimination. A fall of the rider or the horse causes elimination. Time penalties for being outside the optimum time are 0.4 points per second. The biggest challenge that horse and rider face during the cross-country phase is stamina, fitness levels and more importantly trust in one another. At the end of the cross-country phase the horse must pass the vet-check to proceed or the horse and rider team will be eliminated. 


Show Jumping (Stadium Jumping): The final phase of eventing is the show jumping or stadium jumping. This phase tests the horse and rider’s technical skills over fences, fitness level, and athleticism. The course typically consist of 12-20 fences in an arena. The fences are typically brightly colored and they can be knocked down. The phase is also timed, like the cross-country phase, within an optimum time. Riders outside the time are penalized. Scoring, like with cross-country, is an accumulation of penalty points. Knocking down a rail is 4 penalty points. A refusal will cause penalty points. The first one is 4 penalty points and the second one is a cause for elimination. A fall of the rider or horse is a cause for elimination. Being outside the optimum time causes 1 penalty point per second. Jumping the course in the wrong order is a cause for elimination. The challenges that this phase presents for horse and rider are precision and fitness level. The rider’s mount must be sound and fit enough after a day of cross-country to complete the stadium jumping phase.


If you are looking for a challenging equestrian sport across several disciplines you have found it in the equestrian sport of eventing. To find the perfect Eventing Saddle, check out SaddleOnline today!