What is eventing? - British Eventing
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What is eventing?


Eventing could be described as an “equestrian triathlon.” Horse and rider compete in a single competition both on the flat and over fences. The three phases are dressage, cross-country jumping, and show jumping. Over the centuries it has developed from the test of the ideal military charger into an exciting sport that attracts interest from all levels of sports enthusiasts, from weekend hobby riders to professional international stars.


 The Three Phases

Each of the three disciplines is designed to test the horse's ability - dressage shows how trainable the horse is and its basic paces in walk, trot and canter. The show jumping shows athleticism, control and accuracy while the cross country tests stamina, speed, jumping and bravery. 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 the least penalties at the end is the winner.


Dressage 2016Dressage

The first test is dressage, which comprises a set sequence of compulsory movements in an arena. The test is judged by one or more judges 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.


show jumping 2016Show Jumping

The show jumping phase is one round of jumping over fences that can be knocked down in a maximum time allowed. 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.


cross country 2 2016

Cross Country

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 incurs penalties and being too fast is of no benefit and unnecessarily tires the horse. Stopping at obstacles or falling off also incurs penalties.


At all levels the dressage phase is always completed first, all National classes will see competitors doing the show jumping before cross country but in international competition the order can change depending on the type of class.

All horses need to build up their levels of skill and to progress up the ladder the sport has different levels of competition to serve all abilities:

The National levels (maximum height of fences)

BE80(T), (80cm) 'T' stands for training. find out more HERE

BE90 (90cm)

BE100 (100cm)

BE105 (105cm)

Novice (1.10cm)

Intermediate (1.15cm)

Advanced (1.20cm)


At International level the lowest level is Novice and is referred to as 1*, more information on international eventing can be found on the FEI website HERE

Horses progress as they score points and gain experience. This leads to an interesting feature of the sport which is that all riders, whether professional or true amateur, compete against each other and where a relatively inexperienced rider can, and sometimes do, beat the professionals!  

Also men and women compete on equal terms - there are no distinctions or single sex classes.

Should I become a member?

There are a selection of membership options with British Eventing, from the Supporter Membership; for those who love to follow the sport, competing memberships; which range from our Day Pass Membership - for those who want to try a few events -  through to Full Membership. 

More information on the different types of memberships can be found HERE

Can I train with British Eventing?

BE Training & Education provide a huge amount of training for all ages and abilities of riders, volunteers, officials and coaches across the country. You can find coaching near you over on the Training & Education webpages HERE

Find out more...

If you cannot find what you are looking for on the website please email or phone one of the Head Office staff who will be able to help you with your query!

Phone: 02476 698856

Email: info@britisheventing.com