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A Study Of Eventing

Eventing is the equestrian version of a human triathlon, but instead of biking, swimming and running, it features dressage, show-jumping, and cross-country. Eventing began as a cavalry test to show the prowess of both the horse and rider. It can be a one day event or a three day. It used to be known as The Military, Horse Trials, and Combined Training. Eventing requires an athletic rider, but an especially talented horse.

The Dressage phase comes first. This usually takes place in an enclosed ring of 20x40 meters. The test is judged on balance, rhythm, suppleness, obedience, and harmony between horse and rider. This is to prove that the horse can be swift and powerful in the jumping phases, but fluid and intelligent as well. Judges may ask for moves such as half pass, shoulder in, haunches in, collected, medium, and extended strides, flying changes, and counter-canters. Each movement is judged on a scale of 0-100, 100 being that it was perfect, and 0 that it was not performed. Since the average is found of all the scores, even if a move is made a mess of, a high total score is still possible. Errors result in minus points or elimination. Elimination is the result of the horse resisting its rider for more than 20 seconds, or having all four feet of the horse leave the arena. Other errors are progressive in their damage. The first error subtracts two marks, the second four, and the third six. If there is a fourth error, the rider is eliminated. Dressage is the first part of the Eventing competition, and shows the obedient, agile part of the horses.

The next phase in an Eventing competition is the cross-country portion. This course often comprises of 12-20 lower level jumps, 30-40 higher level fences, and many obstacles such as ponds, streams, ditches, drops and rises. This takes place on a several mile long outdoor course. Riders must finish the course within a certain time frame, with 0.4 penalties for every second above the set time. If you exceed twice the time frame, you are disqualified. Several other things also result in elimination. These are: competing with improper tack, jumping without a helmet, not fixing an error on course, skipping an obstacle, jumping it in the wrong order, jumping from the wrong direction, re-jumping a jump, five on-course refusals, a third refusal of the same fence, or two falls of the rider. There are also various penalties. A refusal of a fence results in twenty penalties, an additional refusal of the same fence incurs forty more penalties. The first time a rider falls, there are 65 penalties. If the horse falls, then they must stop competing. Endurance and power are emphasized in the second phase of an Eventing competition.

After the cross-country phase and before the third, show-jumping, horses competing are subject to a veterinary check. This is often a nerve-wracking time for riders, as it determines if their horse is okay enough to enter the show-jumping round. Riders dress up and groom and train their horses. After horses are accepted or denied, the third and final phase begins.

The final phase, the show-jumping, showcases the jumping skills of the horse and rider, depending a great deal on the horse's suppleness, obedience and fitness. This is set up in an indoor or outdoor ring, consisting of 12-20 bright colored pole jumps, the crossbars set in shallow cups. The poles are very easy to knock down. Like the cross-country phase, the show-jumping is also timed. A knocked obstacle produces four penalties, so does a first refusal. The first fall of the rider, or second refusal, results in eight penalties. If there is a third refusal, or a second rider fall, they are eliminated. They also must stop if they jump an obstacle in the wrong order or don't fix an error. If the horse falls, they must stop. For every second over the time limit, there is one penalty. After this round of jumping, the prizes are awarded.

The horse and rider with the fewest penalties at the end of all three events is the winner. Ribbons and prizes are distributed while the winners are mounted, so they can take a lap of honor.

Remember to stay tuned next issue for more in-depth discipline studies!

Submitted by:

Gatekeeper AVH

For more horse related articles written by this author (or others), visit the AVH newspaper at http://www.avirtualhorse.com




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