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‘Eventing’ is an Equestrian Triathlon; a unique, extreme sport that combines three different disciplines, in one competition, set out over three days where a horse and rider are challenged to work together as one. The three equestrian disciplines encompassing this event are: Dressage, Cross-Country and Show Jumping. This event has its roots as a military test requiring mastery of several types of riding. In it’s modern day format, it has become a remarkable challenge testing the discipline, precision, courage, speed and stamina of both horse and rider.

Rapidly growing worldwide, the media has picked up on the popularity of the sport.  The beauty of dressage, the extreme challenge of cross-country and the finesse of stadium jumping engages the audience, be it live or via television coverage.  Each year countless newcomers enter the sport of Eventing at the introductory levels and become hooked on the excitement and prestige. Since 1964 men and women have competed on an equal basis in the local, national and Olympic levels.

Day 1 – Dressage Day

Karl and 'Charley Farley' at Fair Hill in 2009. Photo by Shannon Brinkman

Dressage is the first phase of the Three-Day Event. The horse and rider team perform movements in a predetermined pattern. Each horse and rider combination performs the same test specific for the level of competition. Each horse and rider team is given a score out of 10 for each movement. The total score is then mathematically converted into penalty points. At the end of thecompetition the horse/ rider combination with the lowest penalty points is awarded first prize. Dressage is a display of precision and teamwork. It sets the pace of the competition and establishes the first set of results.  In order to be in the contention for a podium position, you must excel in Dressage and place highly.

Day 2 – Cross-Country Day

Karl and 'Braveheart' at Richland Park in 2009. Photo by Andrew Bailini

Cross Country Day is the height of the sport; hundreds of thousands of people immerge to watch this spectacular display of courage and excitement. The heart of the sport is the Cross-Country phase. Here the horse and rider combinations test their courage and stamina negotiating natural obstacles over varying terrain. Competitors are penalized for failing to negotiate the obstacles in succession within a set time allowed. This phase is by far the most exciting of all Equestrian disciplines due to the challenges posed by the terrain, speed and unique combinations of large and imposing fences.

Day 3 – Show Jumping

Karl aboard 'Foxwood Spencer' at Red Hills Advanced. Photo by Shannon Brinkman

This is the third and final phase of the Three-Day Event. Competitors are faced with a course of brightly coloured fences in an enclosed arena. Each pair must negotiate the course of vertical, combination and spread obstacles with precision and moderate speed. Penalties are assessed for refusing an obstacle, knockdowns and exceeding the set time. This phase is made more difficult by the fact that the pair competed in the gruellng Cross-Country phase usually less than 24 hours before. Suspense fills the stadium as each pair tries to complete the course fault free.