Horses – History of Eventing

Since prehistoric times, people have been riding horses. Two Equestrian events, chariot races and horse races, were first included in the 25th ancient Olympic Games competition schedule, in 680 BC.

Eventing receives its roots from the military. During it’s first years the sport was so aptly named “The Militaire”. Eventing was the military mission of a cavalry officer that had to deliver a message through enemy lines and back again. Eventing was first introduced at the Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden in 1912

It was however earlier in the 19th century , that the three Olympic disciplines had already evolved to their current form.

The first day consisted of the endurance and cross-country test that involved about 50km of roads and tracks, about 5km of a flagged cross-country course of natural obstacles and then around 3.5km of a speed test with ten obstacles. The Jumping test was performed on the second day of  Eventing. Dressage was performed last.

Today’s format is exactly the opposite, starting with Dressage the first day, continuing with the endurance, speed and cross-country test the second day and completing the competition with the Show Jumping on the final day.

International events have category titles and levels. Category titles include CCI’s and CIC’s. A CCI is a three day event, whilst a CIC is a one day event. Whilst the CIC can be run in one day many CIC’s are run over a number of days to allow for more entries. Both categories of event are open to competitors from an unlimited number of foreign nations as well as the nation that is holding the event.
The levels of international events are identified by the number of stars next to the category; there are four levels in total. A one star (*) is for horses that are just being introduced to International competition. A two star (**) is geared for horses that have some experience of international competition. A three star event is for advanced horses who have been well tested at International competition.

The highest level of competition is the four star (****). With only five such competitions in the world (Badminton, Burghley, Kentucky, Luhmulen and Adelaide ) it is the ultimate aim of many riders.

The Phases


The Dressage Phase constitutes a series of movements called a ‘Test’ that each competitor has to ride individually. The purpose of dressage is to develop harmony in the physique and ability of the horse consequently making the horse calm, supple, loose, and flexible. Each test is judged by a panel of judges and the accuracy of each movement is given a score out of ten.

Marks are also given on the horse’s paces, the impulsion and submission of the horse, as well as the riders’ position. When the test is scored the mark is transferred into penalties; therefore a lower score with fewer penalty points is ultimate. Dressage may only be one phase of three but it is considered the basis of success for the entire competition.

The Cross Country

The purpose of the Cross Country Phase is to prove the speed, endurance and jumping ability of the well trained horse in peak condition. Also the competitor’s knowledge of his horse’s paces and the general use of the horse cross country is tested.

Show Jumping

The purpose of the Jumping Test is to simply prove that the horses that have performed the strains of the Cross Country phase have retained the suppleness, energy, and obedience necessary for them to continue. The course may seem easy after the efforts of the previous day but the tracks are usually windy, difficult and take precision to complete successfully.

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