Eventing (or sometimes referred to as Horse Trials) originally evolved from the training and selection of cavalry horses.
Each of the three disciplines is designed to test the horses ability - dressage shows how trainable the horse is and its basic paces in walk, trot and canter. The cross country tests stamina, speed, jumping and bravery while the show jumping shows athleticism, control and accuracy. The sport is rather like the pentathlon in that it combines different disciplines in one competition and is run on a cumulative penalty basis. The competitor with least penalties at the end is the winner.
The first test is dressage, which comprises a set sequence of compulsory movements in an arena 20 metres wide and 60 metres long. The test is judged by judges at specified positions around the arena who are looking for balance, rhythm and suppleness and most importantly, obedience of the horse and its harmony with the rider. Each movement is scored out of ten with the total being added up and converted to a penalty score (and percentage).
The show-jumping phase is one round of jumping with a maximum time allowed and the objective is to jump all the fences clear inside the time. The fences are not as high as top level show-jumping but are quite substantial for horses which are not specialists at show-jumping. Fences knocked down and refusals incur penalties, as does exceeding the time allowed.
The third phase is the cross-country where a course of natural obstacles has to be jumped - again inside an optimum time - being over the time or being well under time incurs penalties. Stopping at obstacles or falling off also incurs penalties.
All horses need to build up their levels of skill and the sport has different levels of competition: Intro, Pre-novice, Novice, Intermediate and Advanced through which horses progress as they score points and gain experience.
Three Day Events and International One Day Events are given a star rating according to their level of difficulty, please see table below:-
Star rating Level Notes
* (one) Novice
** (two) Intermediate
*** (three) Advanced & European Championships
**** (four) Championship, Olympic Games and World Championships