About Eventing

Eventing, equestrian olympic discipline

Eventing, also known as three day eventing or horse trials, is an equestrian event where a single horse and rider combination compete across the three disciplines of dressagecross-country, and show jumping. It takes place over one, two or three days.

The practice of Eventing requires from the rider experience and versatility and a precise knowledge of the possibilities of his horse, with a good level of psycho-physical preparation as the result of a valid a rational training.

Eventing competitions often take place at magnificent venues like the grounds of private stately homes.

Three phases: Dressage, Cross Country and Showjumping


Roberto Rotatori e Irham de Vaiges CCI4* Badminton 2009, prova di dressage
Roberto Rotatori and Irham de Vaiges CCI4* Badminton 2009, dressage phase

The Dressage test consists in performing a series of movements, in a rectangle measuring 20×60 meters or 20X40 meters.

The test is judged by one or more judges who evaluate, in addition to the correctness of the performance, the balance, rhythm, suppleness and, most important of all, the cooperation between horse and rider.

The goal is to demonstrate that a fit horse, capable of completing the cross country phase on time, also has the training to perform in a graceful, relaxed and precise manner.

Dressage work is the basis of all the other phases and disciplines within the sport of eventing because it develops the strength and balance that allow a horse to go cross country and show jump competently.

 Cross Country

Roberto Rotatori CHIO Aachen 2007
Roberto Rotatori CHIO Aachen 2007

The Cross Country phase requires both horse and rider to be in excellent physical condition and to be brave and trusting of each other.

This phase consists of approximately 30–40 obstacles at the higher levels, placed on a long outdoor circuit.

These fences consist of very solidly built natural objects that would commonly occur in the countryside such as logs, ponds and streams, ditches, drops and banks. Sometimes, particularly at higher levels, fences are designed that would not normally occur in nature.

Safety regulations mean that some obstacles are now allowing part or all of the jump to collapse if hit with enough impact.

Speed is also a factor, with the rider required to cross the finish line within a certain time frame (optimum time).


Roberto Rotatori e Irham de Vaiges Campionati Europei di Completo 2009, prova di Salto Ostacoli
Roberto Rotatori and Irham de Vaiges European Eventing Championships 2009, Showjumping phase

Showjumping is the third phase of eventing competition and tests the technical jumping skills of the horse and rider.

In this phase, 12–20 fences are set up in a ring.

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.

A short history of eventing

This event has its roots in a comprehensive cavalry test which required mastery of several types of riding.

The aim was to train horses for the cavalry, who could face any test with courage and that were strong and resistant, suitable for military operations.

The test, which initially was called Military, became an Olympic discipline in 1912 and took the name of Eventing in the 20s of the twentieth century.

The Olympic eventing competition was originally open only to male military officers: it wasn’t until 1964 Tokyo Games that Eventing saw its first woman representing her country.

On the first day, each rider had to complete a long distance ride of 33 miles followed by a cross-country test of three miles over natural obstacles with a 15-minute time limit.  On the second day, officers rode over a steeplechase course.  The third day was devoted to show ring jumping, and the fourth day to dressage.

A major change did not occur until 2004 and 2005, with the creation of the “short” or “modified format,” which excluded roads and tracks and steeple chase from endurance day.