Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Eventing 101

It has come to my attention that there are some people reading this relatively regularly who are NOT, in fact, horse people. (yeah I know, I was stunned too *g* But I have some really awesome friends who go above and beyond :)

So first off, for those of you who really have NO idea who Denny is: -- also, if you scroll way down to the pics of Epic Win, he's the sire of RC :)

Anyways -- I thought I'd run through the basics -- those of you involved yourselves feel free to add!

Rule number one, in any equestrian discipline is "keep horse between rider and ground". hahaha beyond that, things change dramatically depending on what you're doing. I'm an eventer. Eventing is the horse version of triathalon and eventers, as a group, are generally considered *slightly* insane and/or rediculously brave. The best ones are neither :) But I digress (hmmmm somewhere I have a thing about the diff types of riders -- I'll look it up and give it its own post).

Anyways -- 3 phases: Dressage, XC, and Stadium. And, like in golf, the winner is the competitor with the LOWEST score overall.

Dressage is like figure skating -- you ride a set pattern and are judged on accuracy, movement, etc etc *yawn* This is incredibly technical and requires the kind of mindset that few event-riders or event-horses possess. Tricky, as it is also, as often as not, the deciding phase as to who wins. In dressage, every movement in your test is scored out of 10 (and just to make things really nasty some movements get double or triple scores) -- you want HIGH marks for that. 10 is unheard of. 0 means you didn't manage to do anything that even vaguely resembled what the test requested. Steady 7s would be *really* good. I've had at least one test w/ 2s and 9s on the same page >;-P This would be the brilliance or disaster riding that is so frowned upon by my coaches (can't imagine why!). hahaha anyways -- does this all seem wrong to the whole low-score wins thing? Yeah it is, dressage just HAS to be difficult. So after you get your (hopefully) HIGH dressage score, some funky math is performed on it to give the number of penalties instead (theoretically this is all the marks you DIDN'T get -- so if you had an 8 for the movement, you now have a 2 -- but the math isn't actually that simple). hahaha with me still?

Every eventer's goal is to "finish on their dressage score" -- which means that whatever score they have after their dressage test (somewhere between 30-80, pref the lower end of that scale :) is the one they end the day on. Because after dressage, things can only get worse. hahaha isn't it a great sport???

So traditionally XC is next, but in recent years most venues have started running stadium next. This is sometimes a timing issue (easier to schedule) and sometimes a safety issue (if you don't ride well enough to get around stadium, should you really be running xc???). Stadium is like what you see on TV -- a bunch of pretty painted poles that you have to jump in a particular order. It is NOT a race. There is a maximum time allowed, which you will incur penalties if you exceed it, but you don't get extra points for going faster. Penalties can also be gathered by knocking down rails or opting NOT to jump a fence on the first try :) hahaha You can knock down as many as you like, but stopping at 2 or 3 (depending what level you're in) means you're eliminated. Boooo.

And then there's cross-country (XC)... This is what eventers live for. Because really, both of the other phases are Olympic disciplines in themselves -- if you didn't want to do XC, you'd stick to one of those (and there are lots who do :). "To ride XC is easy: you go that way, really fast, and jump anything that gets in the way". hahaha I have no recollection of who said that, but it's always made me grin. This is done outside, at a gallop (how FAST a gallop changes depending on what level) -- it is also NOT a race, but has a max time that you cannot exceed (and at the low levels also a MIN time -- you're not allowed to go too FAST either!!!). You jump "natural" fences - some of which are more natural then others! hahaha Big logs, picnic tables, benches, flower boxes etc. In/out of water, over ditches, up banks, off drops, etc etc etc. These are the kind of jumps that don't fall down when you hit them, so you'd better ride it right on the first try! It is an adrenaline rush unlike any other.

Oh and I almost forgot -- in XC you can wear whatever you want :) (well so long as you include helmet/crash vest/boots/medical armband/etc) -- but where both dressage and stad are very formal (traditional black jacket/helmet/gloves, light breeches, etc) on xc colour is legal. Which means you get some ummmmmm interesting colours. And some HIDEOUS colours. And some that just make you ask "what were they thinking?!?!" hahaha but the coordination is the key :) And it's an art to pull it off.

So yeah, THAT'S what I'm doing here :) And really, what I do at home too :)

Now continuing the 101 thing, some random acronyms/phrases that appear in the blog:

PE/E -- pre-entry/entry -- the lowest levels, technically unrecognized but usually run as though they were. Max height 2'6 and 2'9 respectively. PE also sometimes called smurf or grasshopper (as in the jumps are no higher than the grass!). In the states E = BN or beginner novice.

PT -- pre-training (in US this is Novice), 3' fences, very straight-forward courses.

T -- training, 3'3 fences. This is where life starts to get interesting -- you get combos/water/ditches/etc on xc and triples (3 fences in a row w/ usually 1 stride between them) in stad. (although apparently where I'm going next week, even the lowest level courses have water/ditches/etc -- so that could be entertaining :)

P - prelim (in UK/Europe/Aus THIS is Novice -- so when someone says they ride Novice, WHERE is seriously relevant!), 3'6 fences. This is serious eventing. And the jump from T to P has toasted me 3 times in a row now :( REALLY hoping the next horse I find has the scope for it. Above that are Intermediate and Advanced (this being olympic level).

hmmmmm let's see what else...

Fjord's are a breed of horse from Norway that have a very distinct "look" to them :)

DQ = Dressage Queen... There's a long history behind this grand tradition that isn't within the scope of this blog :) Suffice to say the DQ does NOT jump, or ride outside, or wear colours, or do anything else the rest of us would consider fun *g* Nicole and I had an entertaining time exploring this world last year :) It's all very civilized - we just didn't fit in at all hahaha not sure WHAT that says about us!

HP = Hunter Princess... This is the jumping variation of the DQ -- looked down on by EVERbody because, well they're not nearly as good at the attitude thing as the DQs and they don't *really* jump so the sports that do shrug them off as well... hahaha Nobody in their right mind goes to visit this world, and people in this world never leave.

Hocks -- ah the all-so-important part of the horse. Basically the what you'd call the knees on the hind-legs :)

Hacking -- this is essentially trail-riding, although the way eventers (or endurance riders) hack tends to be a little more intense :)

Anyways, I've managed to bore myself now. I can't imagine you're still reading. So I'll stop :) Questions? You know where to find me!


"DQ = Dressage Queen... Suffice to say the DQ does NOT jump, or ride outside, or wear colours, or do anything else the rest of us would consider fun *g*"

HEY!!!! I resemble that comment! It's not that we don't want to ride outside, but the wind is blowing in slightly the wrong direction, the humidy level is off, and last time we tried the horses at the uncivilized jumper barn accross the road WHINNIED and one of our horses (brace yourself) LOOKED UP.


Here, Here for the DQ's!! It's yawn but if you are riding it's the best feeling the whole world when you get it right - after trying and trying and trying!!

jen (and Solo who can't do dressage to save his life!)


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