Love horses? Then you'll enjoy eventing, the ultimate sporting challenge for horses and their riders Racing and show jumping test horses' skills in just one discipline, whereas eventing showcases the whole range.

Read on for our introduction to eventing, covering everything from how to choose a top eventing horse to why competitors will need horsebox insurance if they plan on travelling to these competitions.

What is eventing?

According to British Eventing, this sport is the triathlon of the equestrian world, with horses and riders having to demonstrate a range of skills across three disciplines.

Dressage involves performing a set sequence of movements, and requires rhythm, harmony and suppleness. It's been likened to horse ballet.

Show-jumping requires the horse and rider to negotiate a single course of fences, demonstrating balance and precision. The jumps are low in comparison to pure show-jumping events, as they are only part of the overall test.

Cross-country involves navigating a course including obstacles within an optimum time, requiring the horse to show bravery and speed. This adrenaline-filled phase is often the most popular with spectators.

The scoring rules are pretty complex. In dressage, riders are scored out of 10 for each movement. These are then added together and subtracted from the maximum possible score.

For the following phases, horses are awarded penalties for knocking down fences, refusing to jump, exceeding the allowed time and so on. Ultimately, the horse with the lowest score is the winner!

Eventing, also known as Horse Trials, takes place over one-three days, depending on the level of competition.

In Britain, levels range from the introductory BE80 to Advanced level. One of the key differences is the height of the show jumps, which range from 95cm to 130cm.

Horses work their way up through the levels, gaining points to compete in higher classes.

In terms of riders, eventing is one of the few sports where professionals and amateurs, and men and women compete together. Top class riders will often enter their less experienced horses into novice events, giving amateurs a rare chance to compete against the elite.

Riders can compete from the year they turn 12, with special classes for young riders.

What to look for in an eventing horse?

According to Haynet blogger Samantha Hobden, there are five key things to look for when choosing an eventing horse. These include:


This is crucial – particularly for jumping, which is required in two out of the three disciplines. Suppleness is also key for dressage.


This means how well your horse’s body and temperament are suited to the job. This depends on a lot of factors, but horses with athletic bodies and strong legs are likely candidates to make good event horses.


Movement is another area to look for. As eventing covers three disciplines, you really need a horse that can move well whether it’s trotting or galloping. Make sure it’s got a good swing in its walk for the dressage element.


If you find a horse that’s quick to adapt and learn, obedient but also fearless, then you’ve found your ideal equine eventing partner.


Popular for eventing are Sport Horses and Thoroughbreds. However, Warmbloods and cross breeds such as Hanoverians are becoming more widespread on the eventing scene.

Tips on how to improve your eventing

Speaking to Horse and Hound, top event rider William Fox-Pitt revealed his top tips for scoring extra competition marks. Here's a quick summary of his advice:

In training, start small when jumping. Even experienced horses can lose confidence quickly, so begin with easy jumps and work your way up.

In the dressage test, don't panic if you make a mistake – nobody's perfect.

Think of each movement in a dressage test as a sentence, with a capital letter to begin, followed by the sentence, and completed with a full stop.

When coming down the centre line, make sure you're riding straight. Look the judges directly in the eyes and dare them to score you anything other than a high mark!

Get someone to video your dressage test. Watch it back as soon as possible, and put yourself in the judges' position. Think what mark you would have awarded yourself, and how you could improve.

All the above points require your horse to be well rested before the competition. Choose a comfortable horsebox, and make sure it's covered with horsebox insurance.

Top eventing dates for 2020

There are many eventing competitions around the UK throughout the summer, offering not only a chance for riders to compete, but also entertainment for the whole family. As well as the horse trials, you'll find activities for children, shopping opportunities, tasty food stalls, and beautiful picnic spots.

Here are some of the main horse trials for competitors and spectators alike.

The Badminton Horse Trials in Gloucestershire, 6-10 May.

The Chatsworth Horse Trials in Derbyshire, 15-17 May.

The Houghton International Horse Trials in Norfolk, 21-24 May.

The Bramham Horse Trials in West Yorkshire, 4-7 June.

The Barbury Horse Trials in Wiltshire, 1-4 July.

The FEI Young Rider/ Junior Eventing & Dressage Championships in Gloucestershire, 27 July – 2 August.

The Festival of British Eventing in Gloucestershire, 7-9 August.

The Burghley Horse Trials in Lincolnshire, 2-6 September.

The Blenheim Horse Trials in Oxfordshire, 17-20 September.

Top level competitors will also be squeezing in a trip to Japan over the summer for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

If you get serious about eventing, you and your horse will be travelling around a great deal from one competition to the next, so make sure you’ve got horsebox insurance.

Get a quote from Equesure today

If you're taking up eventing, you'll need to invest not only in your horse, but also in its transport.

Horsebox insurance arranged through Equesure can cover all types of vehicle up to a value of £750,000, from 3.5 tonne vehicles to large HGVs.

You can get cover for social, domestic, leisure and business use.

EU cover is included as standard, with breakdown cover including vehicle and horse recovery also available.

Contact Equesure today to get your summer of eventing off to a great start!

Latest Articles

Paula’s blog – Freya the destructive

Paula’s blog – Freya the destructive


We’ve been a bit quieter the past week or so, as I’ve been tied up with visiting my mum more as she’s unwell and having to go into hospital for an operation. As much as I’ve tried, with all the worry and stress I just haven’t been able to muster up much energy to ride. 

Read More
Emma’s blog – Arnie Bear

Emma’s blog – Arnie Bear


After a nice winter break, I have finally brought Arnie back into a level of consistent work, and I am so pleased with how nicely he’s going. I really do believe in winter breaks, especially when they are that bit younger, and this one has really done him the world of good.

Read More
Read all our newest articles »
icon-facebook icon-instagram icon-twiter