Eventing is often referred to as the “Equestrian Triathlon.” Developed in the early 20th century as the ultimate test of the ideal military officer and his mount, Eventing has evolved into an exciting sport attracting participation from all levels of enthusiasts – from amateur recreational riders to professional international stars. It is one of three equestrian sports represented every four years at the summer Olympic Games.
Each rider/horse combination competes in the three disciplines – or phases – of Dressage, Cross-Country and Show Jumping. The Dressage “test” always comes first, followed by either the Cross-Country or Show Jumping Phase, depending on individual competition schedules. Riders accumulate penalty points in each phase and the individual with the lowest score (total penalty points) at the end of the competition takes home top honors.
The Essex Horse Trials offers four levels of competition: Beginner Novice, Novice, Training and Preliminary; Beginner Novice is the easiest and Preliminary the most difficult. Competition at Intermediate and Advanced levels are also offered at select competitions and – respectively – require the most experience of riders and horses. Complete explanations of Eventing levels, run under the rules of US Equestrian, are available here.