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Military: adrenaline, versatility, and camaraderie

oliver townend rides ballaghmor class in the cross country phase of the olympics. photo fei christophe tanière.
oliver townend rides ballaghmor class in the cross country phase of the olympics. photo fei christophe tanière.

For those who do not ride in eventing, it can be a bit difficult to understand exactly what the discipline involves. We will take a closer look at that now.


Eventing: The Triathlon of Equestrian sport

When competing in the eventing discipline, it's not just a single discipline – but rather three different sub-disciplines. Eventing consists of dressage, show jumping, and cross-country riding. Since there are these three different parts of the discipline, it is sometimes called the triathlon of equestrian sports.

Many immediately think of the cross-country part with high speed and wild obstacles when they think of eventing, but it's much more than that. In fact, it's all three sub-disciplines that are competed in. Therefore, it's the combined performance that determines the result for a team. So, to compete in eventing, one must train in dressage, show jumping, and cross-country riding, making it a quite demanding discipline.

Read also: Jumping: 3 Exercises that can make you flawless

laura ollett. ol 2020. photo fei christophe taniere
Laura Ollett. OL 2020. Photo FEI Christophe Taniére

Eventing has its roots in the military and has also derived its name from there. It originates from a combined test for the cavalry, which required both horse and rider to master several different types of riding.

The Scoring system

The discipline also has a unique way of allocating points, as the goal here is to get as few penalty points as possible in the various sub-disciplines. After competing in all the sub-disciplines, it is the team with the fewest penalty points that wins.

Read also: Portrait: Phillip Dutton, experienced rider aiming for eight Olympics

The Scoring system

  • Dressage: The dressage part is judged as in all other dressage classes, and a team's penalty points depend on their total percentage. So, if a team scores 65%, they are missing 35% to achieve 100% - which means the team gets 35 penalty points.
  • Show Jumping: The show jumping incurs the same penalty points as usual. You get penalty points for knocking down an obstacle, if the horse refuses, and for exceeding the time limit.
  • Cross-Country: In cross-country, the team must navigate through different terrains and challenges, and they ideally need to finish within a certain time frame. You can get penalty points for various things during the cross-country; if you make a circle, knock down an obstacle, stop, or go over the ideal time for a completed ride. If you fall off, you are disqualified from the cross-country.

Adrenaline, team spirit, and versatility

We made a post on our Facebook asking our readers what they love about eventing. Here, it was clear which elements the riders are really enthusiastic about.

  • The butterflies in the stomach and the speed.
  • The cooperation between horse and rider - it's all about building trust in each other.
  • The versatility in the different sub-disciplines - you need to be proficient in everything to do well.
  • The camaraderie and team spirit among the riders - everyone helps each other.
  • The joy and adrenaline after completing a ride in the terrain - when you know that both you and the horse have given everything you have."

Many riders love the adrenaline rush they get from riding in the terrain, and if you haven't tried actual cross-country riding, perhaps you can relate to the adrenaline rush you can get from a good gallop in the field, in the forest, or on the beach? Or the feeling you get when flying over an obstacle in the riding arena? Then, perhaps, you can understand why some people are drawn to eventing.

Read also: Free jumping the horse - how is it done best?


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