Eventing is one of the fastest growing equestrian pursuits in the world. Riders of all ages and abilities can compete. Developed from cavalry competitions during the early 1900s, it is the ultimate challenge for horse and rider. It tests their partnership and athletic prowess in three disciplines: the grace and harmony of dressage; the rigors and thrills of cross-country jumping and the power and pageantry of stadium jumping.
WHAT IS A HORSE TRIAL?
A Horse Trial takes place over one, two or three days, and involves three distinct phases or tests with varying degrees of difficulty, depending on the competitive level. Taken as a whole, these phases portray the ability, versatility, and preparedness of horse and rider. Penalty points are recorded and then totaled for the three tests, resulting in a combined score for the whole trial thus Eventing’s synonym—Combined Training. The lowest score wins.
WHAT ARE THE TESTS?
The first test of horse and rider involves a series of prescribed classical movements performed on the flat in an enclosed arena. The judges look for a supple, balanced, and lively yet relaxed ride. As in figure skating, both precision of individual movements and overall impression enter into the scoring formula.
This second test is the heart of the sport. Horse and rider gallop over natural terrain, jumping a variety of fixed obstacles along the way. The rider may inspect the course beforehand, but the horse leaves the starting box not knowing what lies ahead. This demands absolute trust between horse and rider.
In this phase, horse and rider jump a series of painted fences in an enclosed arena. Stadium jumping tests the obedience and suppleness of the horse and demonstrates that sufficient stamina and fitness still remain after the strenuous demands of cross-country.