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Eventing: The Ultimate Test of Equine Partnership and Skill

Eventing: The Equestrian Triathlon

Are you looking for an exciting equestrian sport that challenges your horse’s speed, endurance, technique, and intelligence? Look no further than eventing! Also known as the equestrian triathlon, eventing tests the partnership between a rider and his/her horse in three phases: dressage, cross-country, and show jumping.

Phases of Eventing

Dressage is the first phase of the competition.

Dressage is the French word for training, and this phase challenges the horse and rider to display their training in a series of movements at an assigned pattern in front of a panel of judges.

Dressage aims to test the horse’s ability to perform a variety of maneuvers with precision, obedience, and responsiveness. Each movement has its level of difficulty, and the horse earns scores according to his accuracy, impulsion, submission, and overall harmony with the rider.

Cross-country is the second and most thrilling phase of eventing, where horse and rider must face a course of solid and natural obstacles within a specific time. The obstacles may include water jumps, ditches, banks, and various jumps.

The rider must find the shortest and safest routes, and the horse should have the courage, agility, and endurance to clear the obstacles that can be up to 1.2 meters high.

Show Jumping is the third and final phase of eventing, where horse and rider must complete a jumping course consisting of up to twelve obstacles. The show jumping phase tests the horse’s stamina and agility and the rider’s ability to control the horse’s speed and balance.

The obstacles in show jumping can be up to 1.35 meters high, and penalties may be given for knocking down a pole, refusing an obstacle or going over the allowed time.

Different Levels of Eventing

Eventing has several levels, ranging from beginner novice to the highest level called advanced. Let’s take a look at each of them.

Beginner Novice is the starting point of eventing competition, and it is designed to be a safe and friendly introduction to eventing. Beginner Novice horses compete at a lower height compared to higher levels, with obstacles around 70cm in height.

The dressage test is comparatively straight forward, and the cross-country phase is moderate in difficulty. In this level, the horse and rider have a chance to build their confidence and experience in a low-pressure environment.

Novice level starts to increase the level of difficulty for horse and rider. The obstacles get higher, and the scoring is stricter than in beginner novice.

Horses and riders must obtain a certain number of points at this level to proceed to higher levels. Training level corresponds to horses and riders with advanced experience and qualifications.

The technical movements in dressage are designed to challenge the horse’s cooperation and willingness to work. The cross-country phase is more complex, with larger and more demanding obstacles.

Horses must have greater speed and endurance, and the rider must ride at a faster pace while making split-second decisions to keep the horse safe. Modified level adds an extra level of challenge to the competition.

The technical difficulty of the phases increases to prepare the horse and rider for higher levels and international competitions. Preliminary level is the first level of international preparation level, with more rigid, competitive qualifications required.

Horses must display advanced technical skills, endurance, speed, and obedience to the rider’s instructions. The obstacle height is higher than in the previous levels, and the penalty rules for mistakes are stricter.

Intermediate level is the intermediate stage of international preparation with the added challenge of a two-star competition. The cross-country phase will test the horse’s fitness levels as they tackle tough terrain with jumps of up to 1.15 meters in height.

The dressage phase will require high levels of precision, obedience, and elegance. Advanced level is the highest level of Eventing, and it requires a horse and rider with extensive experience and exceptional ability.

The Advanced level has the most challenging technical and physical requirements, and horses and riders must undergo rigorous qualifications to compete. The obstacles at the Advanced level are the highest and most challenging of all levels, and the show jumping set up requires the horse to have exceptional agility and stamina.


Are you up for the challenge of Eventing? Whether you’re a novice or an advanced level rider, eventing is a thrilling and challenging competition that requires intelligence, physical fitness, and teamwork between the horse and rider.

With seven levels to progress through, eventing can provide a lifetime of experience and excitement. Get ready to join the world of eventing and let the challenge begin!

National and International Competitions in Eventing

Eventing has become increasingly more popular worldwide and is being recognized as one of the most challenging and thrilling equestrian sports. If you’re an aspiring eventer, you may be contemplating the differences between national and international competitions.

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the different categories of competitions, the categorization process, specific requirements for US and international competitions, dressage tests, and the level differences.

National Competition

In the United States, eventing is categorized based on the level of difficulty, starting with a beginner novice and ending with an advanced level of competition. National competitions are often perceived as safer and more forgiving than international competitions, with specific requirements and qualifications necessary to enter each level of competition.

National competitions serve as an ideal platform for amateurs, juniors, and young riders to gain experience and showcase their skills in a supportive environment. In addition, certain national competitions may provide the opportunity to gain recognition at the international level.

For national competitions, the dressage tests are similar at each level, but the level of difficulty and the technicality of the maneuvers increase as you progress to higher levels. The obstacles in the cross-country phase of the competition differ depending on the level.

The height and length of the obstacles increase as you progress to higher levels, with a maximum height of 1.20 meters. The show jumping phase is crucial in determining the winner of the competition, with penalties being incurred for dislodged poles, refusals, and exceeding the time allowed.

International Eventing Competition

The International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI) oversees international eventing competition and categorizes the competitions into different levels. These levels are distinguished by the level of difficulty and experience required of both the horse and rider.

The categorization process considers factors such as the length of the course, complexity of obstacles, dressage tests, and overall preparation level of the horses and riders. International eventing competitions range from one to the forth.

Level one is commonly referred to as CCI* or CIC*, while level four, the most advanced, can also be known as CCI**** or CCI*****. At the International level, the dressage test is more strict and challenging to test horse and rider’s accuracy and technical competence.

The cross-country phase requires courage, speed, and accuracy in clearing challenging and complicated obstacles. Additionally, the course can be longer, up to 10-12km, and be more challenging than national competitions.

Finally, the show jumping phase requires the horse and rider combination to have excellent technique, timing and agility as well as endurance to clear complex and physically demanding obstacles. Specifics of


Cross-Country, and

Show Jumping


Dressage is the first phase of the competition and is designed to demonstrate the horse’s obedience, accuracy, and technical competence. The dressage test consists of a set of movements that the horse and rider have to perform in front of the judges.

The dressage test becomes more challenging as you progress to higher levels, with a range of movements that require technical difficulty such as half-pass, pirouette, piaffe and passage. Each movement is scored on an individual basis with points awarded for accuracy, submission, impulsion, and other elements.


The second and most exhilarating phase of eventing is the cross-country phase. The cross-country phase tests the pair’s bravery and stamina as they navigate their way around a course of solid and natural obstacles such as water, banks, ditches, and brush fences.

The cross-country phase requires the horse and rider to have a unique combination of speed, courage, agility, and endurance. The accuracy of the rider, the athleticism of the horse, and the partnership between them both come into play in this phase, and penalties are incurred for refusals and for exceeding the time allowed.

Show Jumping

Show Jumping is the third and final part of eventing. Show jumping aims to test the horse’s stamina and agility and the rider’s ability to control balance and speed.

The course has up to 12 obstacles set at the maximum height of 1.35 meters. The show jumping competition requires a combination of accuracy, technique, speed, and continued recovery.

Riders must make immediate decisions to adjust lines that provide the horse with the best approach to obstacles while doing so in a timely fashion. Any faults, such as knocking over rails, refusals, or exceeding the time allowed, incur penalties.

In conclusion, Eventing is a multi-dimensional sport that requires both the horse and rider to exhibit tremendous skills in areas such as obedience, speed, precision, and timing. National competitions offer a more supportive and forgiving environment for less experienced riders to develop their skills and gain confidence.

The International competition provides a more rigorous and challenging platform that requires extensive experience, qualifications, and more excellent technical competency.

Dressage tests are aimed to exhibit horse and rider’s technical and obedience skills.

Cross-country tests horse and rider’s stamina and bravery while jumping over challenging and complex obstacles, while show jumping test horse and rider agility, speed, and technique to clear the maximum height obstacles. Overall, Eventing is an exciting and challenging sport for equine enthusiasts that instills unique horse-human relationships and partnerships.

Conclusion: Difficulty and Preparation in Eventing

Eventing requires immense physical and mental preparation from both the horse and the rider. The extensive rulebook, in combination with the technical and physical requirements of each phase, creates a challenging sport.

Let’s take a look at the preparations necessary for a horse and rider to compete successfully in eventing.

Extensive Rulebook

The rulebook for eventing is extensive and detailed, covering every aspect of the competition, including the dressage test, the obstacles in cross-country, and the show jumping phase. The rulebook sets out the standards and requirements for each level of competition, ensuring that the horse and rider’s safety and fairness are upheld.

These standards and requirements include equipment, time allowed, a maximum height of obstacles, and penalties incurred for refusals and dislodged rails. A thorough understanding of the rulebook is crucial to succeeding in eventing competitions.


Conditioning is crucial for both horse and rider to perform successfully in eventing and continuously improve.

Conditioning requires meticulous attention to detail with each horse’s diet, turnout, training, and exercise regime.

Conditioning the horse involves weeks of training to increase speed, strength, agility, and endurance. As the level of competition increases, the horse’s physical conditioning becomes more demanding to meet the technical requirements for each higher level of competition.

And It’s essential to ensure that the horse is fit and healthy and can perform to its maximum potential while keeping up with the physical demands of the competition.


Rigor is a critical component of eventing’s appeal, and part of the reason for its enduring popularity. It is a sport that requires a great deal of precision, technical competence, and physical fitness.

To succeed in this sport, both the horse and rider must be mentally and physically prepared. The mental preparationis critical to the horse and rider’s success, and it ensures that they face the challenges of the competition with a clear mind and focus.

Physical preparation involves conditioning, as previously mentioned. Still, it also requires attention to details such as how courses are laid out, how practices are organized, and how much time the horse and rider spend practicing.

The physical rigor of the competition can take a toll on the horse and rider, and they must be prepared to handle the physical exertion, especially in the cross-country phase. In conclusion, eventing is an exciting and thrilling sport that requires rigorous preparation, physical conditioning, and adherence to the extensive rulebook.

The horse and rider must be in sync to be successful in this sport and produce a combination of speed, agility, endurance, and technique. Extensive preparation is essential to meet the challenges, and demands of each level of competition to develop the horse and rider’s skills.

Success in eventing requires a clear understanding of the sport and consistent hard work, to achieve peak performance.


Eventing is a challenging and exciting equestrian sport that requires extensive physical and mental preparation from both the horse and rider. The competition consists of three phases, namely dressage, cross-country, and show jumping, at seven different levels of difficulty that correspond to national and international competitions.

National competitions offer a supportive environment for less experienced riders, while international events demand rigorous qualifications and more significant technical expertise.

Dressage tests, cross-country jumps, and show jumping obstacles differ in height and complexity based on the level of competition.

Rigorous preparation, careful conditioning, and adherence to the extensive rulebook are essential for eventing success. Takeaway that learning the ropes of the sport and working with an experienced coach provide a solid foundation for the horse and rider combination to excel in eventing competitively.


Q: What is eventing? A: Eventing is a three-phase equestrian competition that tests horse and rider agility, endurance, speed, and cooperation.

Q: What are the three phases of eventing? A: The three phases are dressage, cross-country, and show jumping.

Q: Can anyone participate in eventing? A: Yes, anyone can participate in eventing, with events ranging from beginner novice to the most advanced level.

Q: What is the difference between national and international competitions? A: National competitions offer a supportive environment for less experienced riders, while international events focus on rigorous qualifications and extensive technical expertise.

Q: Is physical conditioning critical for horse and rider in eventing? A: Yes, physical conditioning is critical for both horse and rider to succeed in eventing.

Conditioning requires attention to the horse’s diet, turnout, training, and exercise regime. Q: What are some challenges to succeed in eventing?

A: The extensive rulebook, physical conditioning, and adherence to the technical demands of each level of competition pose challenges for horse and rider. Q: What takeaways can you get from the article?

A: The importance of rigorous preparation, careful conditioning, clear understanding of the sport, and working with an experienced coach to succeed in eventing competitively.

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