The first Eventing competition was recorded in France in 1902 and became an Olympic sport in 1912. Eventing in the UK started in 1949 when Badminton Horse Trials were held for the first time.
The object of the event was to test Cavalry Officers’ chargers for their fitness and suitability.
The sport of eventing comprises of three phases:
Dressage originally demonstrated the horse's ability to perform on the parade ground, where elegance and obedience were key. Dressage comprises of a set sequence of compulsory movements in a marked arena. Each movement is marked of out ten with the total being added up. In pure dressage the score is converted to a percentage and highest percentage wins. In Eventing the score is converted into penalties where lowest is best.
Designed to test the agility and obedience of the horse, this phase of the competition is held in an arena where horse and rider tackle a round of 8-12 jumps. If the horse knocks a pole off the jump it will incur 4 penalties which are added to the dressage penalty score. Penalties are also added if the horse refuses a jump, the rider falls off (elimination in some cases) or if the time limit is exceeded. A refusal or a knock-down incurs 4 penalties.
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. Today riders have to jump a course of solid obstacles within a time limit, refusals, rider falls (which can result in elimination in some cases), going too slow and going too fast all result in gaining penalties. This phase can be very influential as a refusal incurs 20 penalties.