Perhaps the most nail biting of all the equestrian disciplines, most of us love eventing for it’s thrills and spills. The very height of excitement, the Olympic eventing competition is sure to have us right on the edge of our seats when the games return this Summer!
Like many events, the Olympic Games was postponed due to the global Coronavirus pandemic. Thankfully though, they’re back on! Proceedings are expected to be getting underway on 23rd July 2021, continuing until 8th August.
What is eventing?
Sometimes referred to as the ‘Equestrian Triathlon’, eventing is considered by many as the ultimate test of horse and rider. Originally, it was a competition for military officers and their horses, determining their competency. Consequently, it requires speed, stamina, scope, strength, precision and so much more.
Fast forwarding to 2021, modern Olympic eventing comprises of three phases: dressage, cross country and show jumping! There will be 65 horse and rider combinations, competing for their chance to win both team and indervidual medals. Take a look at how it works and what you can expect to see.
Olympic Eventing – Dressage
Firstly, days one and two of Olympic eventing will see horse and rider combinations tackle the dressage phase! This is often referred to as ‘dancing horses’. It’s all about elegance, communication and precision.
Dressage takes place in a rectangular 60m x 20m arena, with letter markers at designated points. Dressage tests are made up of a number of ‘movements’. Horse and rider perform these in a sequence, at the correct marker. Each individual movement will be given a mark from 0 to 10 based on how well it was performed. The test that will be ridden is the 2020 Olympic Games 5* B test, fancy having a go?
Unlike in the Olympic dressage competition, the dressage phase of eventing has 3 judges (not 7). At the end of each riders test, the scores from each movement will be combined and turned into a percentage. This percentage is then turned in to penalty points. The penalty points from dressage are carried over as a starting point for the cross country phase.
Olympic Eventing – Cross Country
Secondly, days three and four of Olympic eventing see horse and rider combinations tackle cross country! This means galloping over long distances, faced with obstacles like logs, water jumps, stone walls, corner fences and banks. Truly hair raising, this phase requires tactical riding, speed, stamina, adaptability, agility and above all… Brave pants!
The Tokyo Olympic cross-country course will cover a distance of around 4,500m. Within this, there will be approximately 38 jumps. Fast and furious, there will be no room for mistakes! With a tight time limit, they’ll need to cover around 570 meters per minute to complete the course in the expected 8 minute optimum time. Riders will receive faults for:
- Exceeding the time: 0.4 faults per second.
- Refusals: 1st refusal, 20 faults. 2nd refusal, 40 faults.
- Horse or Rider: Elimination.
You may have noticed, this is a shorter distance than usual and it will be taking place earlier in the day. These changes were made due to the challenging climate, improving horse and human welfare.
At the end of the round, the penalties incurred will be added onto each riders dressage score. This will be carried over to the show jumping!
Olympic Eventing – Show Jumping
Finally, both the team and indervidual events culminate with the show jumping phase! The polar opposite to cross country, show jumping requires a complete change of mindset for the horse and rider. It’s all about scope, adjustability, elasticity, perfect lines and accuracy. Unlike the cross country, fences are not fixed. In other words, the poles are lightweight and can very easily come bouncing out of their cups. Riders will be aiming to complete their round without any faults for the following:
- Time Faults: 1 penalty for every 4 seconds over the time.
- Refusal: 4 penalties.
- Horse or Rider Fall: Elimination.
The Tokyo Olympic eventing show jumping phase will be approximately 600m long, containing between 11 and 12 obstacles, with a maximum of 16 efforts. The jump heights will be approximately 125cm.
Athletes from each team will compete in reverse order of placing. So, the best riders from each nation will compete last, representing their team for a placing.
The penalties incurred during the show jumping phase will be added each riders score from dressage and cross country. Once all 3 riders from each nations team have ridden, their scores will be combined. The team with the lowest number of penalties overall will be the winners!
The team show jumping does not decide the indervidual medal winners. It does however determine who will qualify for the indervidual Olympic show jumping final.
The 25 combinations with the best overall scores will compete in the indervidual final. It won’t be easy though, they’ll be taking on an even tougher course! A break will see the setup changed. The new layout will have approximately 9 obstacles with a maximum of 12 efforts, up to 130cm high. This will be over a shorter distance of between 360m and 500m.
Indervidual medals will be decided based on the lowest number of penalty points from all of the phases of competition.
Save The Date – Eventing
Fri 30 July – 8:30 to 11:00
- Eventing Dressage Team and Individual Day 1 – Session 1
Fri 30 July – 17:30 to 20:10
- Eventing Dressage Team and Individual Day 1 – Session 2
Sat 31 July 8:30 – 11:00
- Eventing Dressage Team and Individual Day 2 – Session 3
Sun 1 Aug – 7:45 to 11:10
- Eventing Cross Country Team and Individual
Mon 2 Aug – 17:00 to 22:25
- Jumping Team Final and Individual Qualifier
- Jumping Individual Final
- Team Victory Ceremony
- Individual Victory Ceremony
Will you be watching at home, cheering on our British riders? We’d love to know who you’ll be rooting for! Let us know in the comments!