Horse Trials (or eventing) is the most rigorous equestrian event which tests riders across the three phases of dressage, cross-country riding and showjumping.
Firstly horse and rider combinations complete a dressage test, comprised of an exact sequence of movements ridden in an enclosed arena and judged on the balance, rhythm, suppleness and obedience of the horse and its harmony with the rider.
The next phase is the cross country jumping, which requires both horse and rider to be in excellent physical condition and to be brave and trusting of one other as they complete a jumping track of solidly build natural fences (ie logs and stone walls) as well as various obstacles such as water, ditches, banks and drops that would commonly occur in the country side. Riders are timed during the course and are penalized if they are either too slow or too fast and finish outside of the optimum window. Penalties are also incurred if the horse refuses to jump a fence or has a run out. Should a horse or rider fall during their round, they are automatically disqualified.
After passing a veterinary check, the third and final phase is the showjumping, which tests the fitness and stamina of the horse and rider combination as well as their technical skill including suppleness, obedience and athleticism. Unlike the cross country obstacles, these fences are typically bright in colour and consist of elements that can be knocked down, which incur penalties. This phase is also timed, with penalties being given for exceeding the time allowed.
At Pony Club, the order of the cross country and jumping for unofficial grades is at the organiser’s discretion