Guest Blogger

Jessica Leroy - Leroy Eventing Guest Blog

3 phases, 2 hearts, 1 love
 
Following the recent international event that is Badminton Horse Trials I thought I would take the time to explain to you exactly what eventing is.
 
The aim of the game:
The overall aim of eventing is to get the lowest score possible – sounds simple right? On paper it does, in reality it is a very difficult thing to do….
 
The phases:
Modern eventing consists of three phases, dressage, cross country and show jumping. The order of these phases depends on the level of the competition, for the big international three day events the dressage is on day one, the cross country on day two and the show jumping on day three - the final day. For one day events the order is changed slightly with the show jumping being before the cross country. No matter the level of event, the dressage is always first.
 
Eventing levels:
In Britain there are six levels of affiliated Eventing (national level) which cater for all levels of horse and rider, the levels range from 80cm Training classes through to 1.20m Advanced classes – 80(T), 90, 100, Novice, Intermediate and Advanced. Once you get to an international level the levels change and go up in numerical level – 1*, 2*, 3* and 4*. 4* is the level of Badminton horse trials that was recently on TV and is the highest level any horse or rider can achieve. 
 
The scoring:
This is where eventing really comes into its own. The scoring is relatively simple – the combination of horse and rider ending the event on the lowest score/penalties after all three phases wins….
 
Dressage: In terms of scoring, eventing dressage is slightly different to your normal dressage. The principle is still the same, the competitors are asked to perform a set  of movements and each individual movement is marked out of 10 (10 being the highest mark possible), with the walk commonly being awarded double marks. If the rider goes wrong in their test they are deducted marks. I should also add that in Eventing dressage the rider must learn this test by heart as no readers are allowed.  There are then sets of marks at the end of the test called the ‘collectives’ these marks asses the quality of the riding and the movement and suppleness of the horses (amongst other things), again these are marked out of 10 with 10 being the highest possible mark. Once the Dressage test has been completed, the marks are added together and points deducted if the rider went wrong, which is then converted to penalty points. The marks are converted to a percentage of the maximum possible score, multiplied by the coefficient for that test, then subtracted from 100.
 
Eventing Fact: The lowest recorded British Eventing (BE) dressage mark was an incredibly low 7.5 at Drumclog Horse Trials, in Strathaven in Scotland in the BE 90 level.
(source, Horse and Country TV). To put this into perspective, my lowest eventing dressage score is 32.5!
 
Showjumping: Compared to the dressage, the show jumping scoring is simple. Unlike pure Show jumping, Eventing has no jump off. The aim is to get around a pre-set course within the allocated time and without knocking any of the fences down or having any stop/refusals/falls. For every obstacle you knock down you get 4 penalties added to your score. For the first refusal you get you get another 4 penalties, the second refusal 8 penalties and if you get a third refusal you then get eliminated. If you fall off you get 8 penalties, if you are unlucky enough to fall off again you get eliminated. You will also get eliminated if you cumulatively concede more than 24 penalties, if you jump the wrong course or if your horse falls. When it comes to the time you get penalised 1 penalty for every second that you are over the optimum time.  So actually, looking at it in more details a lot can go wrong over a show jumping course and it is very easy to clock up unwanted penalties!
 
Cross Country: This is the most exciting part of eventing and where the sport really comes into its own. Cross country is fast passed, dangerous and incredibly good fun (or at least I think it is!). The fences are solid and can be quite imposing. Like show jumping it is common for cross country courses to have combination fences and related distances, unlike show jumping it is a test of speed and endurance rather than finesse and technicality. The course is set to an optimum time and the aim is to finish the course with a clear round as close to the optimum time as possible.
If the rider falls off (national competitions only), they can remount and carry on. If they fall a second time, the rider is eliminated.
Refusal, run-out, or circle at an obstacle: 20 penalties
Second refusal, run-out, circle at the same obstacle: 40 penalties
Third refusal, run-out, circle on XC Course: Elimination
Fall of horse (shoulder touches the ground): Mandatory Retirement
Exceeding Optimum Time: 0.4 penalties per second
Coming in under Optimum Time: 0.4 penalties per second
Exceeding the Time Limit (twice the optimum time): Elimination
(XC scouring source: British Eventing)
So there we have it. A full overview of eventing!
Jess x