About the sport of Eventing
Eventing is an Olympic sport and one in which Australia has recently won three consecutive Gold Medals (1992, 1996 and 2000) and a Silver Medal (2008).
The sport of eventing may be more aptly described as an equestrian triathlon. There are two types of competition, long format CCI (international) or CCN (national) and short format CIC (international) or CNC (national) events.
The combination of horse and rider compete in three phases, covering the disciplines of dressage, cross country and showjumping.
This is basically an obedience test and in today's competitive game, a good test is essential for a top placing. Horses perform a series of movements that are marked for accuracy, movement and rhythm. The marks are converted to a percentage and from this a penalty score is calculated.
This is run on the second day of an event scheduled over two or more days.
There is an optimum time for each course and there are penalties for exceeding time. In National events of Pre-Novice standard and below there are also time penalties for coming in more than 20 seconds under the time.
Jumping penalties accrue on the cross country course as follows:
The first refusal is 20 penalties, a second at the same jump collects 40.
After three refusals at a jump, or four refusals on course, the combination is eliminated. A fall of horse or rider incurs elimination from the competition.
At all events a veterinarian is present to ensure that horses finishing the course are sound.
It is preferable for the jumping to be held after the cross country but time tabling doesn't always allow this for the lower levels of competition. In CIC competitions, the horses are presented for a "trot-up" before the ground jury to ensure they are fit and sound to jump after the rigours of the cross country.
All those competitors remaining in the competitions (ie have not been eliminated on cross country or, in the case of an international event, not accepted by the ground jury) then ride the jumping course, usually in reverse order of placing to provide for an exciting finish. For other classes, this is usually in numerical order. An additional 4 penalties are added for any refusal or dropped rail and there are time penalties of 1 per second over the optimum time.
The winner is the combination that finishes the competition with the least number of penalty points.
Levels of competition
There are four international levels recognised in the sport. One Star, Two Star, Three Star, & at the very top, Four Star. There are only five CCI **** events in the world, Badminton and Burghley in the UK, Kentucky in the USA, Adelaide in South Austalia and Luhmuellen in Germany. The Olympic Games and the World Equestrian Games, each held alternately every four years are also classified Four Star level.
No horse may be started before the age of 6 in a Two Star event or 7 in a Three or Four star. The event horse reaches its potential between the ages of 10 and 14 years.
Australia has seven major International eventing competitions (CCI or Long format events) throughout the year, two in NSW (Sydney and Scone) and Victoria and one in each of the other states.
Between these, competitions, CIC (International) and CNC (National) events are run by clubs and their member volunteers. These provide training opportunities and serve as excellent form pointers while at the same time providing qualifying runs for the major CCI events.
A maximum of five horse and rider combinations from each country may be nominated to ride as a team in the Olympic Games. The three best scores for each country provide a team score from which medals are awarded. The top twenty combinations overall, with no more than three from any one nation (an OAC rules for every competition), compete over a further show jumping round on a fourth day to determine the three Individual medals.
The next Olympic Games will be held in 2012 in London.
World Equestrian games are held in the alternate two years between the Olympic games. Here six combinations represent each country, four nominated to the team.
All riders also compete as individuals. At the most recent World Games, Aachen in Germany, Australia won a bronze medal. The next WEG will be held at Kentucky in the USA in 2010.
Riders are authorised to wear the Australian flag when they have represented the country at either a World Games or Olympic Games. At other times when representing the country at (say) Trans Tasman, or the State (where teams events are run, riders may only wear the issued National or State badges during the conduct of the event to which they relate.