Eventing (also known as three day eventing or horse trials) is an equestrian event where a single horse and rider combination compete against other combinations across the three disciplines of dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. This event has its roots in a comprehensive cavalry test which required mastery of several types of riding. The competition may be run as a one-day event (ODE), where all three events are completed in one day (dressage, followed by show jumping then the cross country phase) or a three-day event (3DE), which is more commonly now run over four days, with dressage on the first two days followed by cross country the next day and then show jumping in reverse order on the final day.
The dressage phase (held first) consists of an exact sequence of movements ridden in an enclosed arena (20×60 m for International 3DE but usually 20×40 m for ODE). The test is judged by one or more judges who are looking for balance, rhythm, suppleness, and most importantly, the cooperation between the horse and rider. The challenge is to demonstrate that a supremely fit horse, capable of completing the cross country phase on time, also has the training to perform in a graceful, relaxed and precise manner.
The next phase, cross-country, requires both horse and rider to be in excellent physical shape and to be brave and trusting of each other. This phase consists of approximately 12–20 fences (lower levels), or 30–40 at the higher levels, placed on a long outdoor circuit. These fences consist of very solidly built natural objects (logs, stone walls, etc.) as well as various obstacles such as ponds and streams, ditches, drops and banks, and combinations including several jumping efforts based on objects that would commonly occur in the countryside.
Stadium or show jumping is the final phase of eventing competition and tests the technical jumping skills of the horse and rider, including suppleness, obedience, fitness and athleticism. In this phase, 12–20 fences are set up in a ring. These fences are typically brightly colored and consist of elements that can be knocked down, unlike cross country obstacles. This phase is also timed, with penalties being given for every second over the required time. In addition to normal jumping skills, eventing show jumping tests the fitness and stamina of the horse and rider, generally being held after the cross-country phase in higher level and international events.
Coming soon – a directory of Eventing resources and events in South Africa