Modern eventing (combined training) was developed from cavalry competitions which tested the officer's mount. Today, it exists in two forms: The Three Day Event and the Horse Trials. Both challenge the rider and the horse in three different areas: Dressage, Cross-Country and Stadium jumping. A Three Day event adds the final factor of endurance.
Dressage displays the obedience and precision of the parade grounds. As the first test in a Horse Trials, dressage also re-quires the performance of a series of predetermined movements quietly, accurately and gracefully. It reflects the cavalry officer's need of an obedient, attractive mount on the parade grounds. Getting a calm, submissive and well balanced test from a fit horse ready to gallop cross-country can be a real achievement!
Each movement in a dressage test is designed to test the horse's physical and mental development and may earn a maximum of ten points. The scores for each movement are added together and their total is subtracted from the ideal score to express the score in terms of penalty points.
Cross Country is the second phase of eventing and is often considered the most exciting to watch and ride. Its objective is to prove the speed, endurance and jumping ability of the horse as well as the boldness and knowledge of the rider. Obstacles, even at the Introductory, Beginner-Novice and Novice Levels, are designed to simulate barriers once likely to be encountered by military officers.
Riders are penalized for refusals and/or falls at the obstacle as well as for going too slowly or even too quickly. The first refusal at an obstacle earns 20 penalty points, the second earns 40 more and the third at the same obstacle means elimination. A fall of the horse or rider, or both, incurs 65 penalty points, but the rider may remount and continue. Any falls or disobediences not directly related to the approach, take-off or landing of a fence are not counted.