The Olympic sport of Three Day Eventing is the ultimate test of horse and rider. This horse triathlon usually takes place over three days combining dressage, cross country, and showjumping all into one event. Three Day Eventing roots stem back to the military training of the Calgary. All three phases dressage, cross country, and showjumping, test every aspect of the horse and rider. From the early 1920's to today, the sport has grown in popularity and attracts riders from around the globe.
PHase 1 : Dressage
Dressage is the first phase of eventing. Horse and rider perform a memorized specific pattern in an area 20x60m (International) or 20x40m (national) in front of one or more judges. The pair is required to execute specific movements with rhythm, balance, harmony, and accuracy ultimately with obedience from the horse. The judge then gives the horse and rider a score of one to ten on each specified movement depending on how well it was executed. Usually there are about twenty movements to each dressage test ranging from circles, to changes of direction, to very difficult movements like flying changes depending on the level the horse and rider are competing at. At the end of the test a penalty score is acquired from the overall test depending on the scores the judge rewarded. An example would be if you received a 7 on your 10m trot circle, the pair receives 3 penalty points for that movement. The lower the score the better. The final score you are given is your base score for the weekend, and you can not improve your score; your goal is to not add any more penalties to it.
Phase 2: Cross Country
The most exciting phase of the competition & what most event riders consider to be the heart of eventing, is cross country. The cross country phase tests the horses courage, speed, and endurance while completing a course of solid, natural type fences with distances of roughly 2500-45000 meters depending on the level with speeds ranging from 450 to 640 mpm. The jumps are fixed and require boldness and bravery from the horse since they do not get to see the jumps until they are galloping at it. If the horse and rider negotiate each obstacle without a stop or fall, and all within the optimum time, then no points are added to there score from the first phase.
Phase 3: Showjumping
Showjumping the final phase of the competition is used as a test to see that the horse can recover from the cross country day of endurance and keep all the rails in the cups over a course of jumps that fall down. The course is usually about a minute and a half long with twelve or so obstacles in an enclosed arena. There are tight turns, bending lines, and related distances all requiring a thinking horse and rider able to negotiate fences with balance and accuracy. Unlike the cross country day, even the slightest rub and these jumps can come crashing to the ground. It requires accuracy and a fit horse so that the horse is able to recover and jump around cleanly the next day.