What Is Eventing?


Author: EI Admin/Saturday 6 July 2013/Categories: All You Need To Know About Eventing!

Eventing is the ultimate test of horsemanship. It is distinctive in that male and female riders compete against each other on level footing for equal rewards.

Eventing consists of three equine disciplines - Dressage, Cross-Country and Show Jumping usually taking place on one day.  The penalty scores from each discipline are combined to produce an overall total. The combination with the lowest total penalties is the winner.

Click the link to see what Eventing is all about: Eventing Ireland

Eventing Ireland (EI) organises, schedules and runs all national events which run across the country during the competition season — March to October each year — and training sessions run throughout the whole year.

To participate within Eventing Ireland competitions, owners and riders must be members of the organisation, and their horses must also be registered.  Alternatively, day memberships and registrations can be bought so aspiring eventers can get a taste of competing in EI 90 (90cm) or EI 100 (1m) classes, before committing to full membership.

At national events there are various classes to compete in. Horses start at EI 90 or EI 100 level and progress to Novice (1.10m), Intermediate (1.20m) then Advanced level with some riders aiming their goal at International competition.  The level at which you compete is decided by the grade of your horse or pony, or by the level of your own riding (as your horse may be more experienced than you!). Therefore, you often find amateur riders competing alongside professional riders, who may be training their younger horses in EI 90 or EI 100 classes. This fascinating feature makes eventing inclusive, aspirational and highly competitive!

The first test is the dressage, which comprises a set sequence of compulsory movements in an area 20m wide and 40m long  or 60m long at higher level competitions.  The test is scored by one or more judges who are looking for balance, rhythm, suppleness and most importantly the obedience of the horse and its harmony with the rider.

The show jumping phase is usually the second phase and is one round of jumping over coloured poles with a maximum time allowed for novice classes and higher, the objective being to jump a clear round inside the time. Four faults are incurred for every pole down and these, along with time faults (for novice classes and above) are added to the dressage score.  

The fences will test a horse who does not specialise in show jumping.  At three-day event level, the show jumping phase will come on day three (after the cross country phase) and tired horses may make more mistakes which will be expensive.  At three-day events the show jumping is based on reverse order of merit, so the rider in last place jumps first and the current leader jumps last - which usually makes for gripping viewing!

The third phase is the cross country where a course of natural obstacles has to be jumped within a time allowed (optimum time).  Being over the optimum time incurs penalties (0.4 penalties per second) as do stops (20 faults per stop).  If there is a tie, it will be the rider closest to the optimum time who will win.  Elimination results from either a fall, 3 stops on course or omission of obstacle.  A good cross country horse must be brave and straight as well as fast.  A good cross country rider must also be brave and know the exact speed to travel to get inside the time safely.

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