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Phase One: Dressage

The first phase during a competition is dressage. A dressage test is comprised of a set series of complicated movements performed in an enclosed arena. The test is scored on each movement, much like the scoring in figure skating, and the overall harmony and precision of the exercise as a whole are taken into consideration.


Dressage is also very important to a combined-training rider because it conditions a horse's muscles for the cross-country test. The horse becomes fit, strong and elastic, better able to lengthen and shorten his stride at a gallop. The purpose of the dressage test is to demonstrate the intense training the horse and rider have undergone in order to perform each movement with balance, suppleness and precision timing. 

The horse is extremely fit and the energy that is contained within the horse is incredible. It can sometimes be a challenging task to control this energy and have the horse use it to his fullest advantage in the dressage ring.


Phase Two: Cross Country

The second discipline is the endurance phase, which involves cross-country, the part that appeals most to spectators and riders alike. It is the ultimate challenge to prepare a horse for this rigorous test. 

The object of the cross-country test is to prove the speed, endurance and jumping ability of the true cross-country horse when he is well trained and brought to the peak of condition. Cross-country courses require horses and riders to be bold and smart. At the same time, it is the ultimate test of stamina and demonstrates the rider's knowledge of pace and ability to work with the horse while galloping across country.


Depending on the level of competition, cross-country is run at a steady canter for approximately one and a half miles to three miles, negotiating from 15 to 36 obstacles that can range from 2'11" high (Novice level) to a maximum of 3'11" high for Advanced.


During a three-day event, at pre-determined times, horses must undergo a thorough veterinary examination for soundness before they are allowed to proceed to the next phase.

Phase Three: Stadium/Show Jumping

The third and final test takes place in the jumping arena. The stadium or show-jumping phase is also performed in an enclosed area and involves a series of colored fences that must be jumped successfully. This final phase tests the stamina and recovery of the horse after the endurance phase and shows that he is fit enough to continue.


A show-jumping course consists of between 12 and 15 show-jumping obstacles that require very exact riding. The course is designed to test the horse's and the rider's ability to negotiate a variety of fences of differing heights, widths and technicality.


This requires the horse to be balanced and supple for tight turns and short distances between fences. He must be able to lengthen or shorten his stride in an instant. Therefore, the rider must know exactly where she is on the approach to a fence, and have an obedient horse that will respond to her commands. For the spectator, this phase is both exciting and breathtaking to watch, as just one single rail knocked down can change the standings dramatically.


At the end of the competition, scores for all competitors are totaled. Each test is scored individually and the accrued penalties are added together for the final results. The lowest score is the winning score.

To be successful as an eventing competitor, a rider must master all three phases.


This involves lots of training and hard work, but it is something we are quite proud of, for at every level, our competitions provide a challenging test of discipline, ability and sportsmanship.