The sport of Eventing is one of the most demanding of equestrian sports and is similar to a triathlon where the horse and rider compete in three phases – dressage, cross country and show jumping.
It is an Olympic sport – one in which Australia excels in, winning its first Gold Medal in Rome in 1960, Bronze in Montreal 1976 – and more recently won three consecutive Gold Medals (Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000) followed by a Silver Medal in Beijing (2008) and Bronze in Rio (2016).
Dressage phase is conducted first. The purpose of dressage is to develop harmony between horse and rider, making movements and transitions seem effortless.
Horses perform a series of movements that are marked out of ten for accuracy, movement and rhythm. Each movement is scored out of 10. The final score achieved is shown as a percentage of possible marks and than converted to penalties, where the lowest penalties are best. E.g.
80% = 30 penalties. 50% = 75 penalties.
The lower the penalty scores the better the test and the higher the placing. In today’s competitive game a good test is essential for a top placing.
The purpose of the Cross-Country phase is to prove the speed, endurance and jumping ability of horse. At the same time it demonstrates the riders’ knowledge of paces and use of his horse across country.
Horse and rider gallop at a rate of up to 570m/min over a distance of anywhere between 3 to 8 kilometres (similar to a golf course but with jumps). There are up to 45 jumping efforts over fixed obstacles. This is the most difficult and for all involved the most exciting phase.
Penalties are awarded for exceeding the set time and also if the horse refuses the jump or if the rider or horse falls. A refusal or a stop at a jump incurs 20 penalties. Athletes are eliminated from the competition if they have 3 disobediences in the cross-country phase. Time penalties for cross-country are 0.4 of a penalty per second.
The Show Jumping phase usually run as the final phase is to prove that the horse has retained the suppleness, energy and obedience for it to continue after a significant test of endurance. In certain competitions each horse will be presented for final inspection before the show jumping to ensure they are fit and sound to continue after the rigours of the cross country phase.
All horses and riders that pass the final inspection complete the show jumping course in reverse order of placing for an exciting finish. Penalties (4) are incurred for each rail dropped or refusal.
The Final Places are determined by total penalties, with the horse and rider combination with the lowest penalties being awarded first place.
CC Eventing (a combined event of Dressage, Cross Country and Jumping)
S Show Jumping
I International Event (eg. CIC, CCI)
N National Event (eg. CNC, CCN)
The number of stars after the class name – e.g. CIC3* or CIC*** is 3 star level – indicates the level of the event class. The more stars, the higher the level and harder the event – i.e. bigger jumps, faster speeds and more complex movements in the dressage. Entry is subject to competitors level of achievement.
* = 1 Star – equivalent to Novice level with jumps up to 1.1m
** = 2 Star – equivalent to Intermediate level with jumps 1.15m
*** = 3 Star – equivalent to Advance level with jumps of 1.20m.
**** = 4 Star – equivalent to Olympic and World Equestrian Games level Jumps 1.20m