Phase One: Dressage
The first phase during
a competition is dressage. A dressage test is comprised of a set series of
complicated movements performed in an enclosed arena. The test is scored on
each movement, much like the scoring in figure skating, and the overall harmony
and precision of the exercise as a whole are taken into consideration.
Dressage is also very
important to a combined-training rider because it conditions a horse's muscles
for the cross-country test. The horse becomes fit, strong and elastic, better
able to lengthen and shorten his stride at a gallop. The purpose of the
dressage test is to demonstrate the intense training the horse and rider have
undergone in order to perform each movement with balance, suppleness and
The horse is extremely fit and the energy that is contained
within the horse is incredible. It can sometimes be a challenging task to
control this energy and have the horse use it to his fullest advantage in the
Phase Two: Cross Country
discipline is the endurance phase, which involves cross-country, the part that
appeals most to spectators and riders alike. It is the ultimate challenge to
prepare a horse for this rigorous test.
The object of the cross-country test is
to prove the speed, endurance and jumping ability of the true cross-country
horse when he is well trained and brought to the peak of condition.
Cross-country courses require horses and riders to be bold and smart. At the
same time, it is the ultimate test of stamina and demonstrates the rider's
knowledge of pace and ability to work with the horse while galloping across
Depending on the level of
competition, cross-country is run at a steady canter for approximately one and
a half miles to three miles, negotiating from 15 to 36 obstacles that can range
from 2'11" high (Novice level) to a maximum of 3'11" high for
During a three-day event,
at pre-determined times, horses must undergo a thorough veterinary examination
for soundness before they are allowed to proceed to the next phase.
Phase Three: Stadium/Show Jumping
The third and final
test takes place in the jumping arena. The stadium or show-jumping phase is
also performed in an enclosed area and involves a series of colored fences that
must be jumped successfully. This final phase tests the stamina and recovery of
the horse after the endurance phase and shows that he is fit enough to
A show-jumping course
consists of between 12 and 15 show-jumping obstacles that require very exact
riding. The course is designed to test the horse's and the rider's ability to
negotiate a variety of fences of differing heights, widths and technicality.
This requires the horse to
be balanced and supple for tight turns and short distances between fences. He
must be able to lengthen or shorten his stride in an instant. Therefore, the
rider must know exactly where she is on the approach to a fence, and have an
obedient horse that will respond to her commands. For the spectator, this phase
is both exciting and breathtaking to watch, as just one single rail knocked
down can change the standings dramatically.
At the end of the
competition, scores for all competitors are totaled. Each test is scored
individually and the accrued penalties are added together for the final
results. The lowest
score is the winning score.
To be successful as an
eventing competitor, a rider must master all three phases.
This involves lots of
training and hard work, but it is something we are quite proud of, for at every
level, our competitions provide a challenging test of discipline, ability and