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The horse is a large ungulate mammal, one of ten modern species of the genus Equus. Like few other animals, horses can be ridden, either with or without a saddle. They can also be harnessed to pull objects like wheeled vehicles or plows. Today, in wealthy countries, horses are predominently kept for leisure and sporting pursuits. However, around the world they continue to fulfill a wide range of economic functions.

Humans have bred horses for millennia, as with dogs, resulting in many different breeds. Some are well-known for particular qualities or abilities; for example, thoroughbreds for their racing speed.


Warmbloods are a group of sport horse breeds and the term simply distinguishes this type of horse from the "cold bloods" (draft horses) and the "hot bloods" (Thoroughbreds and Arabians). Sport horse refers to the intended use of the breed -- as a competitive and recreational horse for the major international equestrian disciplines of dressage, show jumping, eventing and combined driving.

Most warmblood breeds are continuing to evolve. In fact, they are not "breeds" in the sense that Thoroughbreds, Arabians, Morgans and Saddlebreds are breeds. Except for the Trakehner, they do not have closed studbooks. Other breeds are often introduced to the gene pool to reap the benefits of hybrid vigor, and to speed and improve the evolutionary process of attaining the "Breeding Goal" of the particular studbook.

The warmbloods are named for the countries and regions from which they were bred and where the studbooks are kept. The original warmbloods were bred to be an all purpose agricultural, riding, carriage, and cavalry horse. In the twentieth century, the European breeders began refining their horses to produce a large framed, correct horse with superior movement and a willing temperament. The result is apparent in the principal warmbloods which include the Hanoverian, Holsteiner, Trakehner, Oldenburger, Selle Français, the Dutch, Danish, and Swedish Warmbloods. The main difference in the breeding of warmbloods, is the rigorous documentation, selection and testing for breeding stock. There is mandatory performance testing for all stock with the emphasis placed on temperament and rideability. Although the warmbloods are still capable to be all around horses, they excel in dressage and show jumping.


The Thoroughbred is a horse breed developed in 18th century England when English mares were bred with imported Arabian stallions to create a distance racer. Also, "thoroughbred" is an adjective often used by laymen to describe fully-blooded descendants of a particular breed.

The typical Thoroughbred stands 16 hands (64 inches/1.63 m) high, and is bay, brown, chestnut, black or gray/roan in color. The face and lower legs may be marked with white, but white will generally not appear on the body (although certain color genes, usually found in chestnuts, result in white hairs and white patches in the coat—the study of color genetics in horses is an in-depth one).

All modern Thoroughbreds descend from three stallions imported to England from the Middle East in the late 17th and early 18th centuries: the Darley Arabian, the Godolphin Arabian, also known as the Godolphin Barb, and the Byerly Turk, together with around 35 mares. (The first part of these stallions' names refers to the stallion's British owner, the second part is an indicator of the horse's origin.)

Although the Thoroughbred is primarily bred for racing, the breed is also used for show jumping and combined training due to its athleticism, and many retired race horses become fine family riding horses, endurance horses, dressage horses, and youth show horses. The larger horses are sought after for hunter/jumper and dressage competitions, whereas the smaller horses are in demand as polo ponies.

The Thoroughbred is bred primarily for racing under saddle at the gallop. Some families of Thoroughbreds are known primarily as sprinters or as distance runners.

Buyers generally select for larger individuals. Longfellow, Man O' War, Secretariat, Phar Lap, Dr. Fager, Silky Sullivan and Forego were famous, big horses, but a substantial number of famous race horses have been small. Aristides, the winner of the first Kentucky Derby was small. Roamer, Round Table, Seabiscuit, Northern Dancer, and more recently, Dalakhani and Smarty Jones, were famous, smaller horses.

Many experts who purchase Thoroughbreds attempt to assess a young horse's potential by observing its overall structural balance, the athleticism and willingness of its walk, the perceived intelligence of its outlook, and the correct conformation of its legs. Buyers of more expensive horses often hire veterinary experts to examine and report on the condition of the horse's breathing apparatus, soundness of bone structure, and size of heart.

Thoroughbreds that are born in the Northern Hemisphere technically become a year older on January first; those born in the Southern Hemisphere turn one on August first. These artificial dates have been set to enable the standardization of races for horses in certain age groups.

Equestrian Sports

A natural athlete, with a generally superb work ethic, the Thoroughbred excels in many equestrian sports. While other breeds are preferred over the Thoroughbred in both dressage and show jumping, the breed can occasionally compete at high levels in dressage, and the Grand Prix ring in show jumping. The flowing, long stridden gaits and good jumping form makes the Thoroughbred a top show hunter as well.

Of all the equestrian sports, the Thoroughbred is probably most suited for events, and dominates the highest levels: almost all Olympic horses are full or part-Thoroughbred. The breed is most suited for the cross-country phase, due to its long stride and natural speed, as well as its athletic jump.

Thoroughbreds are also the favorite breed for use in polo. They are seen in the hunt field as well.


The English-speaking world measures the height of horses in hands. One hand is defined in British law as 101.6 mm, a figure derived from the previous measure of 4 Imperial inches. Horse height is measured at the highest point of an animal's withers. Perhaps because of extensive selective breeding, modern adult horses vary widely in size, ranging from miniature horses measuring 5 hands (0.5 m) to draft animals measuring 19 hands (1.8 m) or more. By convention, 15.2 hh means 15 hands, 2 inches (1.57 m) in height.

Horses and ponies

Usually, size alone marks the difference between horses and ponies. The threshold is 14.2 hh (4 feet 10 inches, 1.47 m) for an adult. When a horse is 14.2 hh exactly, it is called borderline and is either a horse or a pony depending on the breed. Below the threshold an animal is a pony, while above the threshold it is a horse. Thus normal variations can mean that a horse stallion and horse mare can become the parents of an adult pony. However, a distinct set of characteristic pony traits, developed in northwest Europe and further evolved in the British Isles, make it less clear whether it is more appropriate to use the word "pony" to describe a size or a type. Many people consider the Shetland pony as the archetypal pony, as its proportions are so different from those of horses. Several small breeds are mostly referred to as "horses" but occasionally as "ponies", though that is generally considered improper by those familiar with the breeds. These include the Icelandic horse, Fjord horse and Caspian horse breeds. Breeders of miniature horses favour that name because they strive to reproduce horse-like attributes in a much smaller animal, even though their horses undeniably descend from horses of small stature, which are thereby classifiable as ponies by size.


All horses move naturally with four basic gaits; these are referred to as the walk, the trot, the canter and the gallop.
The walk

A walk is a "four-beat" lateral gait in which a horse must have three feet on the ground and only one foot in the air at any time. The walking horse will lift first a hind leg, then the foreleg on the same side, then the remaining hind leg, then the foreleg on the same side. A rider on a trained horse gently squeezes the sides of the animal and releases the pressure on its reins in order to initiate a walk from a stationary position. To initiate a walk when a horse is trotting or proceeding at a faster gait, the rider gently applies pressure on the reins and sits more firmly in the saddle (or on the horse's back in the absence of a saddle), gently gripping the horse's sides with the thighs.
The trot

A trot is a "two beat" diagonal gait in which a foreleg and opposite hindleg (often called "diagonals") touch the ground at the same time. In this gait, each leg bears weight separately, making it ideal to check for lameness or for stiffness in the joints. A rider on a walking horse initiates a trot by reducing tautness on the reins and applying more leg pressure. There are three types of trot a rider can perform; these are called posting trot, in which the rider stands up slightly in the saddle each time the animal's outside front leg goes forward, sitting trot, in which the rider sits in the saddle and matches the horse's movement, and two point, when the rider lifts slightly out of the saddle and leans foward from the hips. A jog is only used in western riding and is slower than the trot. When jogging the horse the rider sits deeply in the saddle moving along with the horse's movement.
The canter

A canter is a "three beat" gait in which a foreleg and opposite hindleg strike the ground together, and the other two legs strike separately. A cantering horse will first stride off with the outside hind leg, then the inside hind and outside fore together, then the inside front leg, and finally a period of suspension in which all four legs are off the ground. the rhythm should be 1-2-3, 1-2-3, etc. When cantering in a straight line, it does not usually matter which foreleg (or leading leg) goes first, but both leads should receive equal practice time, as otherwise the horse may become "one-sided" or develop a reluctance to canter on a specific lead. In the arena, the horse should canter on the inside lead, unless performing counter-canter, a dressage movement in which cantering with the outside lead is required. In making a fairly tight turn, the inside leg (the one nearest to the centre of the turn) should lead, as this prevents the horse from "falling in". To get a horse to canter on the correct leg from trot, the rider must go into sitting trot, place the outside leg slightly behind the girth and squeeze with the inside leg. To get a horse to canter from gallop, the rider must alter the position of the body slightly back in the saddle, then place the outside leg behind the girth to allow the horse to canter on the correct leg, and apply pressure on the reins. This is also called "lope" when riding in a Western show class at a slower pace.
The gallop

At the gallop, with all four feet off the ground. The gallop is another "four beat" gait which follows a similar progression to the canter, except the two paired legs land separately, the hind leg landing slightly before the foreleg. The gallop also involves having a leading leg. In turning at a very rapid rate, it is even more important that the horse use the appropriate lead, leading with the left leg if making a left turn, and the right leg if making a right turn, since the faster the turn the more the horse needs to lean into the turn. Horses that usually are galloped in a straight line need to be changed to alternate leads so that they do not suffer a muscular imbalance and subsequent difficulty making turns in one direction or the other. To get a horse into gallop, the rider must alter their position so they are slightly more forward in the saddle, then they should allow the horse its head and gently nudge the horse's sides. The gallop is usually used in races or fox hunting. However, a horse should not be galloped during training in a ring or enclosed area, due to the fact that the horse may slip in attempting to gallop in such an area. Although a race track is an enclosed area, it is large enough for a horse to gallop safely.

Some horses, called Gaited Horses, have gaits other than the most common four above.

Horse Anatomy

The highest point of the shoulder seen best with horse standing square and head slightly lowered. The tops of the two shoulder blades and the space between them define the withers. Should be even with the croup, otherwise a "sway-back" may be present. The height of the horse is measured at the withers in "hands."
Mane and Forelock

Long and relatively coarse hair growing from the dorsal ridge of the neck, lying on either the left or right side of the neck, and the continuation of that hair on the top of the head, where it generally hangs forward.

The point where the tail connects to the rear of the horse.

Where the hind legs and the stomach of the horse meet.

The connection between the coronet and the fetlock. Made up of the middle and proximal phalanx.

Resembles the ankle of the horse. Known to anatomists as the metacarpophalangeal joint.

The part of the hoof that connects the hoof to the pastern.

Resembles the shin of the horse. Consists of metacarpal III.

The chin, mouth, and nostrils make up the muzzle on the horse's face.

The point on the neck where the mane grows out of.

The portion of the horse's neck right behind the ears.

Equivalent to the Heel, the main joint on the hind leg.

Corresponds to the elbow of a horse, except on the hind limb.

Known as the "second thigh," the large muscle on the hind leg, just above the hock, below the stifle.

The cheek bone under the horses ear on both sides

The inside of every leg

The highly elastic wedge-shaped mass on the bottom of the hoof, which normally makes contact with the ground first.

Horse coat colours and markings

Horses exhibit a diverse array of coat colours and distinctive markings, and a specialized vocabulary has evolved to describe them. In fact, one will often refer to a horse in the field by his or her coat colour rather than by breed or by sex.

Coat colours:
Leopard or Appaloosa

There are a group of coat patterns caused by the leopard gene. There are several distinct leopard patterns:

Blanket: white over the hip that may extend from the tail to the base of the neck. The spots inside the blanket (if present) are the same color as the horse's base coat.
Varnish roan: a mix of body and white hairs that extends over the entire body--no relation to true roan
Snowflake: white spots on a dark body. Typically the white spots increase in number and size as the horse ages.
Leopard: dark spots of varying sizes over a white body.
Few spot leopard: a nearly white horse from birth that retains colour just above the hooves, the knees, 'armpits', mane and tail, wind pipe, and face.
Frost: similar to varnish but the white hairs are limited to the back, loins, and neck.

From light brown to very dark brown with black points and intermingling red or blue hairs in some cases. (Points refer to the main, tail, muzzle, lower legs, and tips of the ears). Four types - Dark bay (mixed blue hair), blood bay (mixed red hair), light bay and just bay.

There are two types of black, fading black and jet black. Ordinary black horses will fade to a rusty brownish colour if the horse is exposed to sunlight on a regular basis, this though would be considered brown as soon as any black coat gets any brown. Jet black is a blue-black shade that is fadeproof. Black foals are usually born a mousy grey color. As their foal coat begins to shed out, their black color will show through, but jet black foals are born jet black. Usually for a horse to be considered black it must be completely black with no brown at all, only white markings.

One of the rarest colours of horse. Characterisics are any colour with "zebra-like" stripes.

A bay without any black points.

A bay horse with a gene that 'dilutes' the coat colour to a yellow, cream, or gold while keeping the black points (mane, tail, muzzle, ears, legs).

A reddish body colour with little or no black. There are many different variations of chestnut.
Liver chestnut

Dark red coat with black hairs in the mane and tail.
Blond chestnut

Lighter orange coat with pale mane and tail.
Taffy chestnut

Light brown-cream coat with flaxen mane and tail.

A chestnut horse with two dilute genes that washes out almost all colour. Often called pseudo albinos, they have blue eyes. There are no true albino horses.
Dapple Gray

A gray colored horse with lighter gray spots, or dapples, scattered throughout.

Yellowish brown with a dorsal stripe along the back and occasionally zebra stripings on the legs.
Fleabitten Gray

Refers to usually red hairs flecked in the coat of a gray horse.

A horse with black skin and clear hairs. Gray horses can be born any color, and eventually most will turn gray or white with age. If you would define the horse as white it is still grey unless it is albino. Some gray horses that are very light must wear sunscreen.

A black horse with a dun gene. It is often a grayish/silver colored horse with dark dun factors

A multi-colored horse with large patches of brown, white, and/or black and white. Piebald is black and white, while Skewbald is white and brown. Specific patterns such as tobiano, overo, and tovero refer to the orientation of white on the body.

In 1962, the American Paint Horse Association began to recognize pinto horses with known Quarter Horse and/or Thoroughbred bloodlines as a separate breed. Today, Paint horses are the world's fifth most popular breed.

Chestnut horse that has one cream dilute gene that turns the horse to a golden, yellow, or tan shade with a flaxen (white) mane and tail. Often cited as being a color "within three shades of a newly minted coin", palominos actually come in all shades from extremely light, to deep chocolate. Normally referred to as "blonde" horses.

Exactly like a cremello but a bay horse with two dilute genes.

A color pattern that causes white hairs to be sprinkled over the horse's body color. Red roans are chesnut and white hairs, blue roans are black/bay with white hairs. Roan can happen on any body color; for example, there are palomino roans and dun roans. Roans are distinguishable from greys because roans typically do not change colour in their lifetimes, unlike gray that gradually gets lighter as a horse ages. Roans also have solid colored heads that do not lighten.
Rose gray

A gray horse with a pinkish tinge to its coat. This color occurs while the horse is "graying out."

A genetically controlled horse coat variation.

A genetic trait among horses which produces a characteristic white pattern in the coat.

Any non-albino white horse is called a gray, even though they appear white. All white, may be the result of overlapping pinto, appaloosa, or sabino markings. Rarely there are true white horses born and are documented to have a dominant white gene (see Gray (horse) for a discussion of these). These horses have normal eye colour, and they stay white for life.

Horse Markings

On the face:

* Star (a white patch between the eyes)
* Snip (a white patch on the muzzle)
* Stripe (narrow white stripe down the middle of the face)
* Interrupted Stripe (a narrow white stripe down the middle of the face that is interrupted and not continuous)
* Blaze (broad white stripe down the middle of the face)
* White Face (sometimes called Bald Face)
* Glass Eye (blue eye, having a glassy look to it, also called China Eye)
* Mascara (the effect of a horse in contact with the Santa Cruz Tarweed or other sticky plant, which comes in contact with soil and creates a temporary mascara)

On the legs:

* Ermine marks (black marks on the white just above the hoof)
* Sock (white marking that does not extend as high as the knee or hock but is taller than a pastern)
* Stocking (white marking that extends as high as the knee or hock)
* Pastern (white marking that extends only a few inches above the top of the hoof)


Whorls, coloquially known as "cow licks" - are divergent or convergent patches of hair found anywhere on the body but mostly on the head, neck and just in front of the stifles.

For horse color and marking genetics see Equine coat color genetics. Another good resource for horse color is: Horse color, markings, and genetics. Another that has numerous photographs of various colors and markings is Equine color.

Muscular and heavy draft horses are known as "coldbloods", as they have been bred to be workhorses and carriage horses with calm temperaments. Harnessing a horse to a carriage requires some level of trust in the horse to remain calm when restrained. The best known coldbloods would probably be the Budweiser Clydesdales


Warmblood breeds began in much the same way as the Thoroughbred. The best of the European carriage or cavalry horses were bred to Arabian, Anglo-Arabian and Thoroughbred sires. The term "warmbloods" is sometimes used to mean any draft/Thoroughbred cross although this is becoming less common. The warmblood name has become the term to specifically refer to the sporthorse breed registries than began in Europe, although now worldwide. These registries, or societies, such as the Hanoverian, Oldenburg, Trakehner, and Holsteiner have dominated the Olympics and World Equestrian Games in Dressage and Show Jumping since the 1950s.

The list of horse breeds provides a partial alphabetical list of breeds of horse extant today, plus a discussion of rare breeds' conservation.


Arabian horses, whether originating on the Arabian peninsula or from the European studs (breeding establishments) of the 18th and 19th centuries, gained the title of "hotbloods" for their temperament, characterised by sensitivity, keen awareness, athleticism, and energy. It was these traits, combined with the lighter, aesthetically refined bone structure, which was used as the foundation of the thoroughbreds. The European breeders wished to infuse some of this energy and athleticism into their own best cavalry horses.

The Thoroughbred is unique to all breeds in that its muscles can be trained for either fast-twitch (for sprinting) or slow-twitch (for endurance), making them an extremely versatile breed. Arabians are used in the sport horse world almost exclusively for endurance competitions. Breeders continue to use Arabian sires with Thoroughbred dams to enhance the sensitivity of the offspring for use in equestrian sports. This Arabian/Thoroughbred cross is known as an Anglo-Arabian.

True hotbloods usually offer greater riding challenges and rewards than other horses. Their sensitivity and intelligence enable quick learning, and greater communication and cooperation with their riders. However, they sometimes decide that a new flowerpot is really a dragon, and the rider must spend the next five minutes calming them down.


Dressage (a French term meaning "training") is a path and destination of competitive horse training, with competitions held at all levels from amateur to Olympic. Its fundamental purpose is to develop, through standardized progressive training methods, a horse's natural athletic ability and willingness to perform, thereby maximizing its potential as a riding horse. At the peak of a dressage horse's gymnastic development, it can smoothly respond to a skilled rider's minimal aids by performing the requested movement while remaining relaxed and appearing effortless. For this reason, dressage is occasionally referred to as "Horse Ballet." Although the discipline has its roots in classical Greek horsemanship, dressage was first recognized as an important equestrian pursuit during the Renaissance in Western Europe. The great European riding masters of that period developed a sequential training system that has changed little since then and is still considered the basis of modern dressage.

Early European aristocrats displayed their horses' training in equestrian pageants, but in modern dressage competition, successful training at the various levels is demonstrated through the performance of "tests," or prescribed series of movements within a standard arena. Judges evaluate each movement on the basis of an objective standard appropriate to the level of the test and assign each movement a score from zero to ten - zero being "not executed" and 10 being "excellent." A score of 9 (or "very good") is considered a particularly high mark.
The Dressage Arena

There are two sizes of arenas: small and standard. The small arena is 20 m by 40 m, and is used for the lower levels of dressage and three-day eventing dressage. The standard arena is 20 m by 60 m, and is used for upper-level tests in both dressage and eventing. Since the combination of CEF and USDF tests in 2003, the small size arena is no longer utilized in rated shows in North America.

Dressage arenas have a lettering system around their outside in the order (clockwise) A-K-E-H-C-M-B-F (small arena) and A-K-V-E-S-H-C-M-R-B-P-F (standard arena). It is currently unknown who began the lettering system or why the arrangement was chosen. At the start of the test, the horse enters at A. There is always a judge sitting at C (although for upper-level competition, there are up to five judges at different places around the arena). There are also invisible letters along the centerline, D-X-G (small arena) and D-L-X-I-G (standard arena), X always being in the center of the dressage arena. The dressage arena also has a centerline (from A to C, going through X in the middle), as well as two quarter-lines (halfway between the centerline and long sides of each arena).
Levels of Dressage

The levels of dressage are progressive, building on the training of the horse. They emphasize the training scale and the qualities needed by the horse as it works its way up. So a horse at the lowest level of dressage would not be judged on its collection (a more advanced concept), but most marks would be judging that the basics are solid: the horse has impulsion, is moving freely forward, starting to come up through its back, and is accepting the rider's aids.

Later tests will ask that the horse be supple, asking for movements such as shoulder-in, haunches-in, and half-pass. The horse will also be asked to lengthen the walk, trot, and canter, preparing it for the more advanced movements of extended trot (which requires more impulsion than lengthened trot). The tests are designed to build upon each other. If short-cuts are taken at the lower levels (for example, the horse is forced into a frame with its head pulled into the vertical position, rather than correctly ridden up through its back into the bridle), the errors in training will become readily apparent in the upper levels.

The levels of dressage proceed as follows:

* Introductory: designed to introduce novice horses and riders to the sport of dressage. Free-walk is expected.
* Training: developing the purity of the gaits is of utmost importance, horse should move freely forward, accept contact with the bit, and remain supple. Horse must reach down for the contact at the trot on 20-meter circles.
* First: Horse should develop thrust (pushing power), and have developed a degree of balance and throughness. Trot lengthenings are introduced, as are changes of lead through the trot, leg-yield, and 15-meter circles.
* Second: Horse is asked to carry more weight on the hindquarters (develop collection), medium paces are developed (trot). Horse is expected to have a greater degree of straightness, bending, suppleness, and throughness, as well as self-carriage. Counter-canter is introduced, as is shoulder-in, haunches-in, turn on the haunches, and the rein-back. 10-meter circles.
* Third: Horse should have consistent rhythm, suppleness, throughness, impulsion, straightness, and collection in each movement, while remaining on the bit and accepting of the aids. Introduces the half-pass at the trot and canter, single flying changes, and collected and extended paces are developed.
* Fourth: Horse must have a high degree of suppleness, impulsion, throughness, balance, and lightness. He should always remain on-the-bit. Transitions should be smooth and precise, movements should be straight and energetic with great cadence. Introduces 8-meter circles, counterchange of hands in half-pass (zig-zags), three-tempi changes. Full walk pirouettes, and quarter and half pirouettes at the canter.

FEI Dressage Tests

* PSG (Prix Saint Georges): Requiring high degree of collection by horse, and refinement of aids by rider. Introduces 5 flying changes of leg every 3rd stride.
* I-1 and I-2 (Intermediate 1 and 2): Fairly advanced, both are used as a stepping stone to help the horse reach the Grand Prix level. I-2 is more advanced than I-1, preparing the horse for Grand Prix, and introduces piaffe, passage and one- and two-tempi changes.
* Grand Prix: The highest level of dressage, requiring a very advanced horse. Includes: Stationary piaffe for 12-15 steps, trasitions from passage - extended trot - passage, and 15 flying changes of leg every stride.

In Britain, the tests are:

* Preliminary - walk/trot
* Novice - similar to first level USDF tests
* Elementary - similar to second level USDF tests
* Medium - similar to third level USDF tests
* Advanced - similar to fourth level USDF tests

In the United States, equitation classes are also given in dressage. They judge the rider, as opposed to the horse, focusing on the position and effectiveness of the competitor.
Olympic level

The dressage tests performed at the Olympic Games, which were accepted as sport in 1912, are those of the highest level-Grand Prix. This level of test demands the most skill and concentration from both horse and rider.

Gaits and movements performed at this level include collected and extended walk, trot, and canter; trot and canter half-pass (a movement where the horse travels on a diagonal line keeping its body almost parallel with the arena wall while making both forward and sideways steps in each stride); passage (a slow-motion trot); piaffe (an approach to "trot in place"); one and two tempi changes (where the horse changes from one lead to the other in the canter, when all four legs are in the air); canter "zigzags"; and pirouettes (a 360-degree circle that is almost in place).

Rider preforming the passage. Note the great collection of the horse, and the limbs that are positioned to advance the horse

Tests ridden at the Olympic Games are scored by a panel of five international judges. Each movement in each test receives a numeric score and the resulting final score is then converted into a percentage, which is carried out to three decimal points. The higher the percentage, the higher the score.

Olympic team medals are won by the teams with the highest, second highest, and third highest total percentage from their best three rides in the Grand Prix test.

Once the team medals are determined, horses and riders compete for individual medals. The team competition serves as the first individual qualifier, in that the top 25 horse/rider combinations from the Grand Prix test move on to the next round. The second individual qualifier is the Grand Prix Special test, which consists of Grand Prix movements arranged in a different pattern. For those 25 riders, the scores from the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Special are then combined and the resulting top 15 horse/rider combinations move on to the individual medal competition-the crowd-pleasing Grand Prix Freestyle.

For their freestyles, riders and horses perform specially choreographed patterns to music. At this level, the freestyle tests may contain all the Grand Prix movements, as well as double canter pirouettes, pirouettes in piaffe, and half-pass in passage. For the freestyle, judges award technical marks for the various movements, as well as artistic marks. In the case of a tie, the ride with the higher artistic marks wins. [1]

Apart from competition, there is a tradition of Classical Dressage, in which purists pursue the tradition of dressage as an art form, for its own joy and beauty. Dressage is also a part of the Portuguese and Spanish bullfighting exhibitions. The traditions of the Old Masters who originated Dressage are kept alive by the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria and the Cadre Noir in Saumur, France.

Breeds commonly used for competitive dressage are normally in the warmblood category, as these breeds have the vigorous, extended movement and strength necessary for the sport. However, Dressage is an egalitarian sport in which all breeds are given an opportunity to compete successfully. Iberian horses such as the Andalusian, Lusitano and Lipizzaner are particularly popular among practitioners of classical dressage. These breeds excel in the collected movements of classical dressage.
The Training Scale

The dressage training scale is arranged in a pyramid fashion, with “rhythm and regularity” at the bottom of the pyramid and “collection” at the top. The training scale is used as a guide for the training of the dressage horse (or any horse, for that matter). Despite its appearance, the training scale is not meant to be a rigid format. Instead, each level is built on as the horse progresses in his training: so a Grand Prix horse would work on the refinement of the bottom levels of the pyramid, instead of focusing on only the highest level: “collection.” The levels are also interconnected. For example, a crooked horse is unable to develop impulsion, and a horse that is not relaxed will be less likely to travel with a rhythmic gait.
Rhythm and Regularity (Takt)

Both rhythm and regularity should be the same on straight and bending lines, through lateral work, and through transitions. Rhythm refers to the sequence of the footfalls, which should only include the pure walk, pure trot, and pure canter. The regularity, or purity, of the gait includes the evenness and levelness of the stride.
Relaxation (Losgelassenheit)

The second level of the pyramid is relaxation (looseness). Signs of looseness in the horse may be seen by an even stride that is swinging through the back and causing the tail to swing like a pendulum, looseness at the poll, a soft chewing of the bit, and a relaxed blowing through the nose. The horse will make smooth transitions, be easy to position from side to side, and will willingly reach down into the contact as the reins are lengthened.
Contact (Anlehnung)

Contact—the third level of the pyramid—is the result of the horse’s pushing power, and should never be achieved by the pulling of the rider’s hands. The rider drives the horse into soft hands that allow the horse to come up into the bridle, and should always follow the natural motion of the animal’s head. The horse should have equal contact in both reins.
Impulsion (Schwung)

The pushing power (thrust) of the horse is called “impulsion,” and is the fourth level of the training pyramid. Impulsion is created by storing the energy of engagement (the forward reaching of the hind legs under the body). It is a result of:

* Correct driving aids of the rider
* Relaxation of the horse

Throughness (durchlässigkeit):

The flow of energy through the horse from front to back and back to front. The musculature of the horse is connected, supple, elastic, and unblocked, and the rider’s aids go freely through the horse. Impulsion only occurs in the trot and canter—not the walk—because it is associated with the moment of suspension found in these two gaits.
Straightness (Geraderichtung)

A horse is straight when his hind legs follow the path of his front legs, on both straight lines and on bending lines, and his body is parallel to the line of travel. Straightness causes the horse to channel his impulsion directly toward his center of balance, and allows the rider’s hand aids to have a connection to the hind end.
Collection (Versammlung)

At the apex of the training scale, collection may be used occasionally to supplement less vigorous work, but is only focused on (through the collected gaits and more difficult movements, such as flying changes) in more advanced horses. Collection requires greater muscular strength, so must be developed slowly.

When a horse collects, he naturally takes more of his weight onto his hindquarters. The joints of the hind limbs have greater flexion, allowing the horse to lower his hindquarters, bring his hind legs further under his body, and lighten the forehand. A collected horse is able to move more freely. When collected, the stride length should shorten, and increase in energy and activity.
Airs above the ground

These are a series of higher-level dressage maneuvers where the horse leaps above the ground. These include the capriole, courbette, croupade, and levade. None are typically seen in modern competitive dressage, but are performed by horses of various riding academies, including the Spanish Riding School in Vienna and the Cadre Noir in Saumur.

In the capriole, the horse jumps from a raised position of the forehand straight up into the air, kicks out with the hind legs, and lands more or less on all four legs at the same time. It requires an enormously powerful horse to perform correctly.

In the courbette, the horse raises his forehand off the ground, tucks up his forelegs evenly, and then jumps forward, never allowing the forelegs to touch down, in a series of "hops". Extremely strong and talented horses can perform five or more leaps forward before having to touch down with the forelegs. It is more usual to see a series of three or four leaps.

In the levade, the horse rises on his haunches to an angle of approximately 35 degrees from the ground, with both forelegs tucked up evenly, and balances in that position. At the beginning of the movement, the hind feet come under the horse's center of gravity with the hocks coming lower to the ground, so that the horse appears to sink down in back and rise in front. The position is held for a number of seconds, and then the horse quietly puts the forelegs back on the ground and proceeds at the walk, or stands at the halt. The purpose of the levade was to raise the rider out of reach of an enemy's sword. It is also a transition movement between work on the ground and the airs above the ground, and it requires enormous strength of the horse — not many horses are capable of a good quality levade.

The croupade is similar to the capriole, but the horse does not kick out at the height of elevation, but keeps his hind legs tucked tightly under.

The ballotade is similar to the croupade, but the horse's hind hooves are positioned so one can see its shoes if watching from behind. It appears as if the horse is ready to kick. The back of the horse is almost parallel to the ground. This is a transition movement to the more difficult capriole.

In the mezair, the horse rears up and strikes out with its forelegs. It is similar to a series of levades with a forward motion (not in place), with the horse gradually bringing its legs further under himself in each successive movement and lightly touching the ground with his front legs before pushing up again.
Dressage Tack

Dressage horses are shown in minimal tack. They are not permitted to wear boots (including hoof boots) or wraps (including tail bandages) in competition, nor are they allowed to wear martingales or training devices. Due to the formality of dressage, tack is usually black, although dark brown is seen from time to time.

An English-style saddle is the preferred piece of tack for riding dressage. It is designed with a long and straight saddle flap, mirroring the leg of the dressage rider, which is long with a slight bend in the knee. The dressage saddle usually has a deeper seat than a jumping saddle, to help hold the rider in a deep seat. However, many dressage masters shun the deep seat, believing that a rider should not need the saddle to help them stay in place. The saddle is usually placed over a square, white saddle pad. A dressage saddle is required in FEI classes.

At the lower levels of dressage, a bridle should use a plain cavesson, drop noseband, or flash noseband. As of 2006, drop nosebands are relatively uncommon, with the flash more common. At the higher levels, the flash and drop are not used, and a plain cavesson or a crank noseband is permitted.

The dressage horse is only permitted to use a mild snaffle bit, and the rules regarding bitting vary from organization to organization. The loose-ring snaffle with a mild single- or double-joint is most commonly seen. Upper level dressage horses are ridden in a double bridle, using both a mild bradoon and a stronger curb bit.
Turn-out of the dressage horse

Dressage horses are turned out to a very high standard, as competitive dressage is descended from royal presentations in Europe. It is traditional for horses to have their mane braided. In eventing, the mane is always braided on the right. In competitive dressage, however, it is occasionally braided on the left, should it naturally fall there. Braids vary in size depending on the conformation of the horse, but Europeans tend to put in fewer, larger braids, while horses in the United States usually have more braids per horse (possibly from the influence of hunter-style riding in the country). Braids are occasionally accented in white tape, which also helps them stay in throughout the day. The forelock may be left unbraided; this style is most commonly seen on stallions. Horses are not permitted to have bangles, ribbons, or other decorations in their mane or tail. Tail extensions are permitted in the United States.

The tail is usually not braided (although it is permitted), because it may cause the horse to carry the tail stiffly. Because the tail is an extension of the animal's back, a supple tail is desirable as it shows the horse is supple through his back. The tail should be "banged," or cut straight across (usually above the fetlocks but below the hocks when held at the point where the horse naturally carries it). The dock is pulled or trimmed to shape it and give the horse a cleaner appearance.

Excellent dressage turn-out, with braided mane, banged and pulled tail, trimmed legs and polished hooves. Rider wears a shadbelly and top hat, with white gloves, tall boots, and spurs.

The bridle path is clipped or pulled, usually only 1-2 inches. The animal may or may not be trimmed. American stables almost always trim the muzzle, face, ears, and legs, while European stables do not have such a strict tradition, and may leave different parts untrimmed.

Hoof polish is usually applied before the horse enters the arena. The horse should be incredibly clean, with a bathed coat and sparkling white markings. Foam should not be cleaned off the horse's mouth before he enters the arena.

Quarter marks are sometimes seen, especially in the dressage phase of eventing however they are not currently in style for competitive dressage.
The rider's clothing

Dressage riders, like their horses, are dressed for formality. In competition, they wear white breeches, that are usually full-seat to help them "stick" in the saddle, with a belt, and a white shirt and stock tie with a gold pin. Gloves are usually white, although less-experienced riders or those at the lower levels often opt for black, as their hand movement will not be as noticeable. The coat worn is usually solid black, although solid navy is also occasionally seen. For upper-level classes, the rider should use a shadbelly, rather than a plain dressage coat.

Riders usually wear tall dress boots, although field boots may be worn at the lower levels. Spurs are required to be worn at the upper-levels. If the dressage rider has long hair, it is typically worn in a hair net. Lower-level riders may use a hunt cap, or helmet with a safety harness. Upper-level riders are required to wear a more formal top hat, matching their coat.

Show jumping

Show jumping or "jumpers" is a member of a family of English-discipline equestrian events that includes hunters and equitation. Events that include these sports are called hunter/jumper horse shows.

Jumping courses are held over a course of show jumping obstacles, including verticals, spreads, double and triple combinations, and many turns and changes of direction. The more professional the class, such as a Grade A class, the more technical the strides between each fence becomes. For example they would make a related combination with the normal horse canter stride of six strides between each fence and change it to six and a half strides to make it more complicated for the rider. The purpose is to jump cleanly over a twisting course within an allotted time; jumping faults are incurred for knockdowns only (as compared to ticks), disobedience, and time faults for exceeding time allowance. Tied entries jump over a raised and shortened course; if entries are tied in the jump-off, the fastest time wins. Riders walk both course and the jump-off course before competition, to plan their ride.

Jumper courses are highly technical, requiring boldness, scope, power, accuracy, and control; speed is also a factor, especially in jump-off course and speed classes (in which time counts in the first round). A jumper must jump big, bravely, and fast, but he must also be careful and accurate to avoid knockdowns, and must be balanced and rideable in order to rate and turn accurately. A jumper rider must ride the best line to each fence, saving ground with well-planned turns and lines, and must adjust his horse's stride for each fence and distance, while avoiding knockdowns. In a jumpoff, he must balance the need to go as fast as possible and turn as tight as he can, against his horse's ability to jump cleanly.

The horses are allowed a certain number of refusals to take a jump or other obstacle, but fault points are added to their score for each one. Until recently, it was 3 faults, but was changed to 4 faults by the FEI (Federation Equestrian International) as it was decided that it is better for the horse to attempt the jump rather than to refuse it and should therefore not be penalized less for a more severe fault. If they take more than the time allowed for the course, they earn one fourth fault for each extra second. For every pole that is knocked down, four faults are earned.

The final rankings are based on the lowest number of points accumulated. In case of a draw, the horse with the fastest time ranks higher.
Grand Prix show jumping

Show jumping is a relatively new equestrian sport. Until the Enclosures Acts which came into force in England in the eighteenth century there had been no need for a horse to jump fences as there had been none. But with this act of parliament came new challenges for those followers of fox hounds. The enclosures act brought fencing and boundaries to many parts of the country as common ground was dispersed amongst the wealthy landowners. This meant that those wishing to pursue their sport now needed horses which were capable of jumping these obstacles.

In the early shows held in France there was a parade of competitors who then took off across country for the jumping. This sport was, however, not popular with spectators as they could not watch the jumping. Soon after the introduction of these parades fences began to appear in the arena. This became known as ‘Lepping’. Fifteen years later, ‘Lepping’ competitions were brought to Britain and by 1900 most of the more important shows had ‘Lepping’ classes although they rarely attracted more than 20 competitors. The ladies, riding side-saddle, had their own classes.

At this time, the principal cavalry schools of Europe at Pinerolo and Tor-di-Quinto in Italy, the French school in Saumur and the Spanish school in Vienna preferred to use a backward seat when jumping for safety purposes with long length stirrups. The Italian Instructor Captain Fiederico Caprilli heavily influenced the forward seat with his ideas that the forward position would not impede the balance of the horse negotiating obstacles. It is this latter style which is commonly used today.

The first big showjumping class to be held in England was in the Horse of the Year Show at Olympia in 1907. Most of the competitors were servicemen and it became clear at this competition and in the subsequent years that there was no uniformity of rules for the sport. Judges marked on their own opinions. Some marked according to the severity of the obstacle and others marked according to style. Before 1907 there were no penalties for a refusal and the competitor was sometimes asked to miss the fence to please the spectators. The first courses were built with little imagination; many consisting of only a straight bar fence and a water jump. A meeting was arranged in 1923 to rectify it and this led to the formation of the BSJA in 1925.
Show jumping events

* CHIO Aachen
* The British Open Show Jumping Championships
* Horse of the Year Show

Show Jumping Jumps

A jump that consists of poles right above each other with no spread, or width, to jump.

Basically two verticals close together, to make the jump wider. Also called a spread.

* Square Oxer: Both top poles are of an equal height.
* Ascending Oxer: The furthest pole is higher than the first.
* Descending Oxer: The furthest pole is lower than the closest.


Three bars across, making a wide spread.

This type of jump is usually made to look like a brick wall, but the "bricks" and constructed of a lightweight material and fall easily when knocked.
Hog's Back

A type of jump where the tallest pole is in the center.

This is not a type of fence but is a solid part below the poles, such as flower boxes or a rolltop. It can alse be a gate.

Any number of jumps in a row, with a certain number of strides in between.

Four jumps stratigiclly placed in a row


Eventing is an equestrian event which comprises dressage, cross-country and show-jumping. This event has its roots as a comprehensive cavalry test requiring mastery of several types of riding. It has two main formats, the one day event (1DE) and the three day event (3DE). It has previously been known as The Military, Horse Trials, and Combined Training.

Governing bodies

The International governing body of the sport is the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI).

Individual countries have their own national governing bodies, including:

The United States Eventing Association (USEA), formerly the USCTA.

British Eventing (BE), formerly BHTA, the British Horse Trials Association.

The Equestrian Federation of Australia (EFA).

Eventing resources

Performance Horses

Equestrian Triathlon

Eventing is commonly seen as an equestrian triathlon, in that it combines different disciplines in one competition.

The dressage phase (held first) comprises an exact sequence of movements ridden in an enclosed arena (usually 20 x 40 meters). The test is judged by one or more judges who are looking for balance, rhythm and suppleness and most importantly, obedience of the horse and its harmony with the rider. The challenge is to demonstrate that a supremely fit horse, capable of completing the cross country phase on time, also has the training to perform in a relaxed and precise manner.

At the highest level of competition, the dressage test may ask for half-pass, shoulder-in, haunches-in, collected, medium and extended gaits, flying changes, and counter-canter. The tests may not ask for Grand Prix movements such as piaffe or passage.

Each movement in the test is scored on a scale from 0 to 10, with a score of "10" being the highest possible mark. Therefore, if one movement is executed terribly, it is still possible for a rider to get a good score if he reorganizes and does well in the following movements. The good marks are added together, minus any errors on course, and rounded to two decimal digits. The scores of all the judges (if more than one judge is present) are averaged to two decimal points. To convert this score to penalty points, the average is subtracted from 100 and the final figure is multiplied by 1.5.

All four feet of the horse exit the arena during the test: Elimination

The horse resists more than 20 seconds during the test: Elimination

Errors on course:

* 1st Error = minus 2 marks
* 2nd Error = minus 4 marks
* 3rd Error = elimination


The next phase, cross-country, requires both horse and rider to be in excellent shape and to be brave and trusting of each other. This phase consists of approximately 12-20 fences (lower levels), 30-40 at the higher levels, placed on a long outdoor circuit. These fences consist of very solidly built natural objects (telephone poles, stone walls, etc.) as well as various obstacles such as ponds and streams, ditches, drops and banks - based on objects that would commonly occur in the countryside. This phase is timed, with the rider required to cross the finish line within a certain time frame (optimum time). Crossing the finish line after the allowed time results in penalties for each second late. At lower levels, there is a speed fault time, incuring penalties for horse and rider pairs completing the course too quickly. Penalties are also incurred if the horse refuses to jump a fence or if the rider falls off. The penalties for disobendiences on cross country are weighted severely relative to the other phases of competition to emphasize the importance of courage, endurance and athleticism. Fitness is required as the time allowed will require a strong canter at the lower levels, all the way to a strong gallop at the higher events.

Horse trials, which may be held over one or two days, have only one phase of cross country. If the trial is held over the course of two days, dressage and show jumping are usually held the first day, with cross country on the second.

Recent years has seen the controversy of short and long format three day events. Traditionally, three day events had dressage, endurance and show jumping. Endurance day consists of 4 Phases, A, B, C and D. Phase A and C are roads and tracks, with A being a medium paced warm up to prepare the horse and rider for Phase B, a steeplechase format at an extremely fast pace over steeplechase-style fences. Phase C is a slow paced cool down coming off of Phase B, in preparation for the toughest and most demanding phase, D, or Cross Country. Before embarking on Phase D, in the "ten-minute box," horses must be approved to continue by a vet who monitors their temperature and heartrate, ensuring that the horse is sound and fit.

Three day events are now offered in traditional format, with endurance day, or short-format, with no Steeplechasing (Phase B). Short format offers a shortened roads and tracks phase as a warm up for cross country. The 2004 Olympic Summer Games in Athens, Greece chose the short format, due to lack of facilities, time and financing, which sparked a large debate in the eventing community whether to keep Steeplechase or just offer Cross Country. International competitions offering the traditional format are rated in level by stars, with one being the lowest level, and four being the highest. CCI* is an international three day event offering Phases A-D at a relatively low level, where CIC*** would be an international three day event not offering steeplechase.

* 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 at the same obstacle: Elimination
* Fifth Refusal, run-out, circle on the entire Cross-Country course: Elimination
* First fall of rider: 65 penalties
* Second fall of rider: Elimination
* Fall of horse (shoulder touches the ground): Mandatory Retirement
* Exceeding Optimum Time: 0.4 penalties per second
* Coming in under Speed Fault Time: 0.4 penalties per second
* Exceeding the Time Limit (twice the optimum time): Elimination

Other Faults:

* Competing with improper saddlery: Elimination
* Jumping without without headgear or a properly fastened harness: Elimination
* Error of course not rectified: Elimination
* Omission of obstacle: Elimination
* Jumping an obstacle in the wrong order: Elimination
* Jumping an obstacle in the wrong direction: Elimination
* Retaking an obstacle already jumped: Elimination

See also: Cross-country equestrianism, Indoor cross-country.
Veterinary Inspection

Before the last phase, horses are inspected by a vet to ensure that they have not incurred any injuries as a result of their exertions on the previous day. It is usually a very formal affair, with the horses braided and well-groomed, and the riders dressing up. It is also a very nerve-racking time, as the "pass" or "fail" determines whether the horse may continue on to the final phase.
Show Jumping

The last phase, showjumping, tests the technical jumping skills of the horse and rider, including the suppleness, obedience, finess, and athleticism, as well as their fitness. In this phase, 12-20 fences are set up in a ring. These fences are typically brightly colored and consist of elements that can be knocked down, unlike cross country obstacles. If the horse and rider are not in adequate shape or do not have the technical skill, then they will knock down the poles, incurring penalties. This phase is also timed, with penalties being given for every second over the required time. In addition to normal jumping skills, eventing show jumping tests the fitness and stamina of the horse and rider, generally being held after the cross country phase.

* Knocking down an obstacle: 4 penalties
* First Disobedience (refusal, run-out, circle): 4 penalties
* Second Disobedience in the whole test: 8 penalties
* Third Disobedience in the whole test: Elimination
* First Fall of rider: 8 Penalties
* Second Fall of rider: Elimination
* Fall of horse: Mandatory Retirement
* Exceeding the time allowed: 1 penalty per second
* Jumping an obstacle in the wrong order: Elimination
* Error of course not rectified: Elimination

The winner is the horse and rider with the fewest penalties. Ribbons and prizes are usually presented while mounted, before the placegetters take a lap of honour around the arena.
The History of the Three Day Event

First called the "Militaire," the Three Day Event has its roots as a test for horses used as cavalry mounts. The predecessor to eventing originally began as a form of endurance riding, without jumping or galloping. Such competitions included a ride in 1892, travelling a 360 mile distance from Berlin to Vienna (the winner completed the ride in 71 hours and 26 minutes). However, these competions did little to prepare horses and riders for actual combat, and so around the end of the 1800's, the French began raids militaires, which was the true forerunner to the three-day event.
The Olympics

Eventing competition that resembles the current three-day were first held in 1902, but were not introduced into the Olympic Games until 1912. The dressage originally demonstrated the horse's ability to perform on the parade ground, where elegance and obedience were key. Cross-country began as a test of stamina, courage, and bravery over difficult terrain, important for a charger on long marches or if the horse was asked to carry a dispatch across country. The stadium jumping phase sought to prove the horse's continuing soundness and fitness after the difficult cross-country day.

The Olympic eventing competition was originally open only to military officers in active duty, mounted only on military charges. In 1924, the event was open to male civilians, although non-commissioned Army officers could not participate in the Olympics until 1956. Women were first allowed to take part in 1964.

The original format, used in the 1912 Olympics, was spread over several days:

* Day 1: Endurance Test- 55 km (33 miles) of roads and tracks (with a time allowed of 4 hours, giving a speed of approx. 230 meters per mintue) immediately followed by 5 km of a flagged cross-country course at a speed of 333 meters per minute. Time penalties were given for exceeding the time allowed, but no bonus points were given for being fast.
* Day 2: Rest Day
* Day 3: Steeplechase test of 3.5 km with 10 plain obstacles, at a speed of 600 mpm, with time penalties but no time bonus points
* Day 4: Jumping Test, which was consided easy by most of the spectators
* Day 5: Dressage Test

The Paris Games in 1924 introduced a format very similar to the one of today: with Day 1 Dressage, Day 2 the Endurance Test, and Day 3 the Jumping Test. The Endurance Test has changed the most since that time. Originally, bonus points could be earned for a fast ride cross-country (less than the optimum time). This helped competitors make up for a poor dressage ride, with a clean, fast cross-country ride. This system, however, was dropped in 1971. The format for the endurace test occurred as below:

* Phase A: Short roads and tracks (with 5 penalties per 5 seconds over time)
* Phase B: Steeplechase, decreased in speed from 600 mpm to 550 mpm (with 10 penalties added per 5 seconds over the time, 3 bonus points per 5 seconds under time)
* Phase C: Long roads and tracks (with 5 penalties per 5 seconds over time) Compulsory Halt (now the 10-minulte halt)
* Phase D: Cross-country (with 10 penalties added per 5 seconds over the time, 3 bonus points per 10 seconds under time)
* Phase E: 1 1/4 mile run on the flat (with 5 penalties per 5 seconds over time).

(Note: Phase E was abolished in 1967.)

In 1963, the 10 minute halt was introduced, to occur after the completion of phases A, B, and C. It took place in a marked out area (the 10-minute box), where the horse was checked by two judges and one veterinary official who would make sure the horse was fit to contiune onto phase D. If he was unfit, the panel would pull the horse from the competition.

The "modified" or "short format" (see below) is today the norm for international competition, with the Badminton Horse Trials and Burghley Horse Trials running their last "long format" three-day in 2005. The fate of the Rolex Kentucky Three Day is still being discussed. However, all Championship and Olympic Events will be held short format, without phases A, B, or C.
Penalty point system

In 1971, the penalty point system was first used. This system converts the dressage score and all jump penalties on cross-country and show jumping into penalty points, with the horse and rider with the fewest number of points winning the event. Different weight is given for each phase, with the cross-country — the heart of eventing — being the most important, followed by the dressage, and then the show jumping. The intended ratio of cross-country:dressage:show jumping is theoretically 12:3:1. Therefore, an error in cross-country counts heavily. This prevents horses that are simply good in dressage (for example) from winning the event with a poor cross-country test.

In 1971, the following penalty system was instituted:

* Phase A and C: 1 penalty per second over the optimum time
* Phase B: 0.8 penalties per second over
* Phase D: 0.4 penalties per second over

In 1977, the dressage scoring was changed, with each movement marked out of ten rather than out of six. This increased the maximum number of dressage marks from 144 to 240. This number later increased to 250 marks in 1998, after additional movements were added. To keep the correct weight, a formula is used to convert good marks in dressage to penalty points. First, the marks of the judges (if there is more than one) are averaged. Then the good marks are subtracted by the maximum number possible. This number is then multiplied by 0.6 to find the final penalty score.

Show jumping rules were also changed in 1977, with a knock-down or a foot in the water costing only 5 penalties rather than ten. This prevented the show jumping phase from carrying too much weight, again, to keep the ratio between the phases correct.
Non-Olympic competition

In its early days, the sport was most popular in Britain, and the British gave the competition a new name, the "Three-Day Event," due to the three day time span of the competition. In America, the sport was called "combined training," due to the three different disciplines and types of training methods needed for the horse.

The first annual, Olympic-level event developed was the Badminton Horse Trials, held each year in England. First held in 1949, Badminton was created after a poor performance by the British Eventing Team at the 1948 Olympic Games, with the purpose of being a high-class preparation event, and as extra exposure for the military horses, who very rarely had the chance to compete. At first, only allowed British riders to compete (although women were allowed, despite being banned at this time to ride in the Olympics), but the competition is now open to all. To this day, Badminton is one of the most prestegious competitions to win in the world.

The second three-day competition to be held at Olympic level each year was the Burghley Horse Trials, first held in 1961. Burghley is longest running international event. The first CCI held outside of Britain on an annual basis was the Rolex Kentucky Three Day, held each year in Lexington since 1978.

Since the first few events, course design has become increasingly more focused on the safety of the horse and rider. Fences are built more solidly than in the earlier days, encouraging a bold jump from the horse, which actually helps prevent falls. The layout of the course and the build of the obstacles encourage the greatest success from the horse. Safety measures such as filling in the area between corners on cross-country or rails of a fence help prevent the entrapment of the legs of the horse, decreasing the number of serious falls or injuries.

The newest improvement in cross-country safety is the frangable fence, which uses a pin to hold the log of an obstacle up. Should a horse hit the obstacle, the pin would break, and the obstacle would simply fall to the ground. This technique helps to prevent the most dangerous situation on cross-country: when the horse hits a solid fence between the forearm and chest, and somersaults over, sometimes falling on the rider (this fall has indeed caused the death of several riders, as well as horses). Leg protection for horses has also improved. Very little was used in the early days, even on cross-country. However, it is now seen on every horse and almost every level. Rules protecting riders have improved as well. Riders are now required to wear a safety vest (body protector) during cross-country, as well as a showjumping hat with fastened harness when jumping.
Other Notes

From the beginning, event horses had to carry a minimum weight of 165 lb (75 kg) (including rider and saddle) during the endurance test. This rule was dropped in 1997.
Short vs. classic format

Recently, the phases A,B, and C have been excluded on cross-country day from 3-day events. This is mainly due to the fact that the Olympic Committee was considering dropping the sport of eventing from the Olympics, due to the cost and large area required for the speed and endurance phase with a steeplechase course and several miles of roads-and-tracks. To save the sport, the "short format" was developed by the FEI, which excluded the phases A, B, and C on endurance day, while retaining phase D. The last Olympic Games that included the long, or "classic," 3-day format was the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, where American David O'Connor won the individual gold medal aboard 16 year old Custom Made.

The change in format has brought about controversy. Many wanted the continuation of the classic format, believing it was the "true test of horse and rider." Others believed the classic format was superior because it taught horsemanship, due to the extra preparation needed to condition the horse and the care required after the several miles of endurance day. However, some upper-level riders claim to prefer the short format, as they believe it saves wear-and-tear on their horses and allows the horse not only to compete in more 3-days each season, but decreases the chance of injury to the horse. Despite this purported belief, many upper riders prepare their horses for the short format using the same conditioning and training as for the long format, thus undermining the basis for their rationale. Breeders of heavier horses with more outcrosses than in the traditional thoroughbred also have supported the short format, perhaps as a way to showcase their breeding programs.

In the United States, one- and two-star level events usually will offer "with steeplechase" (the classic format). However, three-star events will now only offer the short format. The Rolex Kentucky Three Day, the only four-star in the United States, plans to alternate years between the short format and the classic format. In Britain, however, most plan to switch to the short format. This includes the 2 four-star 3-day events that are run in Britain, Badminton and Burghley, which will begin running the short format in 2006.
International Competition

International events have specific categories and levels of competition. CCI (Concours Complet International, or International Complete Contest) is one such category and defines a three-day event that is open to competitors from any foreign nation as well as the host nation.

* CCI : International Three-day event (Concours Complet International)
* CIC: International One-day event (Concours International Combiné)
* CCIO: International Team Competitions (Concours Complet International Officiel). Includes the Olympics, the World Championships, the Pan Am Games, and other continental championships

The levels of international events are identified by the number of stars next to the category; there are four levels in total. A CCI* is for horses that are just being introduced to international competition. A CCI** is geared for horses that have some experience of international competition. CCI*** is the advanced level of competition.

The very highest level of competition is the CCI****, and with only five such competitions in the world (Badminton, Burghley, Kentucky, Adelaide, and Luhmuhlen Horse Trials) it is the ultimate aim of many riders. The Olympics and World Championships are also considered CCI****.

One, two and three star competitions are roughly comparable to the Novice, Intermediate and Advanced levels of British domestic competition, respectively, and to the Preliminary, Intermediate, and Advanced levels of American domestic competition, respectively.
The Eventing Horse

Thoroughbreds and part-thoroughbreds usually dominate the sport because of their stamina and athletic ability, although many warmbloods and warmblood-thoroughbred crosses excel. In the UK, Irish sport horses have been popular for many years. In the lower levels, it is possible for any breed, if well-trained and conditioned, to do well.

The horse should be calm and submissive for the dressage phase, with good training on the flat. For cross-country, the horse must be brave, athletic, and (especially at the higher levels) fast with a good galloping stride and great stamina. An event horse must be very rideable to succeed, as a horse that will not listen to a rider on the cross-country phase may end up taking a fall at a jump. The horse does not have to possess perfect jumping form, but should be safe over fences and have good scope. The best event horses are careful over jumps, as those who are not tend to have stadium rails knocked on the last day.

Three day events

* Adelaide Horse Trials: CCI****


* Saumur Three Day Event: CCI***


* Luhmuhlen Three Day Event: CCI****

Great Britain

* Badminton Horse Trials: CCI****
* Blenheim Horse Trials: CCI***
* Bramham Horse Trials: CCI***
* Burghley Horse Trials: CCI****

The Netherlands

* Boekelo Three Day Event: CCI***


* Fair Hill Horse Trials: CCI***
* Radnor Horse Trials: CCI**
* Red Hills Horse Trial
* Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event : CCI****

Famous "Three-Day Eventers"

* Jan Thompson
* Beale Morris
* Phillip Dutton
* David O'Connor
* Karen O'Connor
* Adrienne Lorio-Borden
* Kimberly Severson
* Bruce Davidson
* Bruce "Buck" Davidson Jr.
* Will Faudree
* James C. Wofford
* Pippa Funnell
* Jil Walton
* Leslie Law
* William Fox-Pitt



MARK LYON is a horse trainer in the Omaha, Elkhorn, NE and Council Bluffs, IA area. Mark specializes in common sense Natural Horsemanship using California Hackamore Reinsman methods. Vaquero Buckaroo traditions help you and your horse communicate together. Get back to pure horsemanship with simplicity and without gadgets.

Mark was selected to compete in the 2008 Extreme Mustang Makeover. He was one of 200 trainers in the nation to receive a untouched mustang, work with it for 100 days and transport it to FT Worth TX and show it to see which trainer could do the best job transforming their wild horse into a partner you would love to own. Mark and his mustang Christian won the championship round despite the saddle slipping off.
Click here to watch their run Mark and Christian just competed in the freestyle competition at the Sun Circuit in Scottsdale AZ. They finished second. The winner was a wonderful dressage horse which bested them by half a point, more details to follow on the training page.

Mark and Christian are now headed to the 2009 Road to the Horse to compete against Tommy Garland in a head to head horsemanship Competition.

Horse training services include
colt starting, problem solving, private riding lessons and clinics Contact Mark

JAMES MORGAN is a horse trainer, located in Bennett, Colorado.  As a lifetime student of natural horsemanship, James regards every experience as an opportunity to learn and positively impact a horse's life. 

James specializes in colt starting, roping horses, recreational horses, and performance horses.  Other services include trailer loading, problem solving, western riding and roping lessons.

Ranch in Era (north of Denton). We are now taking in selected horses for training. we have backgrounds in both english and western. mainly ranch work(actual working ranches), with a concentration on all lateral movements, roping, gathering, safety indoors and out. Have lived and worked for Ray Hunt for a year and your horse will get time with Ray. an unbelievable deal to those who know who he is. if you dont he is the godfather of what people call natural horsemanship, and was doing clinics before clinicing was even called that. i just call it common sense. we will take colt starting, problem horses, behavior issues, or if you just want some more time on your horse. we have cattle, trails, mechanical cow, indoor arena, box stalls, runs, and pasture. $500/month (+125 for feed). you wont find a better deal for price and quality. please email if interested.

EMILY KEMP Colt starting is all about presenting new experiences to the young horse in a way that will allow him to turn loose-  accept and relax. New experiences will include: humans, the saddle, the rider, the bridle, a trailer, clippers, wash bays, dogs, vehicles, and anything else a horse might encounter in a human environment.

Ten years ago I embarked on a lifelong horsemanship journey. I have traveled the country to study with some of the best horsemen in the world in a variety of philosophies and disciplines. I invite you to read about my journey and training.

I currently live in Jackson, Wisconsin, where I train horses and help owners to achieve higher levels of understanding and skill with horses through natural methods. I provide customized training programs to match each horse and lessons to match each rider.

The use of force, fear, or intimidation has no place in this process.  Each day of training prepares the colt for the next day in building a partnership and foundation for the future.

TOM DAVIS - Do you need horse training and Colt Training Solutions. Visit a Tom Davis Horsemanship Clinic - check out for the latest Schedule and DVDs Tom Davis is The Horses Solution. Tom Davis with his wife Traci Davis own and opperate TnT Ranch in Orka Texas where they raise Dynamite Equine and Bovine. AQHA Horse and Corriente Roping cattle. Standing at stud at TnT Ranch is Little Playboy RB an own son of Freckles Playboy. At TnT Ranch we offer weekend horsemanship lessons that include lodging and meals and even spa treatments to help you relax after riding all day. We also sell Saddle barn Tack and western Home decor and many other great items. Come check us out any time Horse Training/ Colt Starting~ Tom Davis Horsemanship

FERDINAND SANTANA is gifted with an uncanny ability to accurately read horses and a profound wisdom that allows him to adjust training methods to the individual horse. Using mild mannered, soft spoken techniques, he has been training all breeds of horses for more years then he can remember. And he enjoys them all! Out in the the middle of nowhere in southern Colorado Ferdinand developed his horse business that involved a clientele of people from the nearby states of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, Oklahoma and as far as Illinois, Tennessee and California. He has cowboyed on some prominent ranches in the Southwest.

"Everyone can benefit and every horse can benefit from my training, no matter what the discipline. Thru my training methods your horse will do everything better, because he will feel more secure and confident with the world that he lives in, and thru instinctive behavior and learned behavior he will learn to be your willing partner and team player."

ED DABNEY - The mission of Gentle Horsemanship is to assist horses and their owners in having a more safe and pleasant life together by establishing a relationship of mutual respect and trust through the use of gentle communication.

TRAVIS BRUCE - Balanced progression and development in horse and rider through exercises that stress: Willingness, Confidence, and Respect.

JERRY TINDELL -Teacher and Trainer of Horses, Mules, & HumansTindell's Horse & Mule School will help you build a safer, more confident and more effective relationaship with your horse or mule. Learn to communicate more effectively with your horse or mule. There are a number of people out there offering the same words....the difference is that Jerry doesn't get so impressed with himself that he forgets he is supposed to be teaching."

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