Equestrian – Eventing

Eventing is one of the three disciplines of the Olympic sport of Equestrian.

Did you know?

Equestrian is the only Olympic sport in which men and women compete against each other on equal terms. It is also the only one in which humans and animals compete together.
At the Olympic Games horses must be at least eight-years-old for Dressage and Eventing, and nine-years-old for Jumping.

Key facts


Venue: Greenwich Park
Dates: Saturday 28 July – Tuesday 31 July
Gold medals up for grabs:
Athletes: 75

Eventing: a history of the sport

Developed to test and prepare cavalry horses in the military, Eventing has a long and colourful history. Initially, the purpose was to create a competition in which officers and horses could be tested for any challenges that could occur on or off duty. It also provided a basis for comparing training standards between the cavalries of different countries.

Eventing combines every element of horsemanship – the harmony between horse and rider of dressage, the contact with speed, natural ability and extensive experience essential for Cross CDountry, and the precision, agility and technique involved in jumping.

For more information on the history of the sport, visit the IOC website.

Eventing at the Olympic Games

Women have been allowed to ride in Equestrian events since 1952. However, it wasn’t until the Tokyo 1964 Games that a woman first competed in Eventing, when Helena du Pont competed for the United States.

How the competition runs

 The Eventing competition (formerly called the ‘three day event’) takes place over four days. Days one and two are Dressage, day three is Cross Country and day four is Jumping.

The Dressage and Jumping elements are similar to the pure Dressage and Jumping competitions.

In the Cross Country element, riders have to complete a course over natural terrain of between 5,700 metres and 6,840m. The course contains solid obstacles that test the nerve, boldness, scope and partnership of horse and rider; faults are awarded for refusals, run-outs and exceeding the specified optimum time. If the horse and/or rider fall they are eliminated from the competition. 

The rider with the fewest penalties at the end of the competition is the winner, with the team medals decided by the best three scores from each nation.

Jargon buster


  Fault: A set number of penalty points for making a mistake.

  • Run-out: When a horse gets out of the rider’s control and runs around a fence instead of jumping it.
  • Horse inspection: The judges and vets check each horse to ensure it is fit to compete prior to the dressage and again following the cross country prior to completing the jumping phase.

Get involved

If you’re new to the sport and want to find out more, the British Equestrian Federation website is a good place to start. Also visit the Federation Equestre Internationale website.

Kyle Carter of Canada and Madison Park compete at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

~ by superbowlnyc on February 17, 2011.

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