Eventing in the UK: A Comprehensive Guide for Newcomers

May 04, 2024

Eventing in the UK: A Comprehensive Guide for Newcomers

Table of contents:

  1. Understanding Eventing
  2. The History of Eventing in the UK
  3. Getting Started in Eventing
  4. Competing in Eventing
  5. The Eventing Community
  6. Conclusion

Eventing, often described as the ultimate test of horse and rider, is a thrilling equestrian discipline that combines dressage, cross-country, and show jumping into one comprehensive sport. It showcases the versatility, endurance, and skill of both horse and rider, making it a favourite among equestrian enthusiasts. For those new to the world of horses in the UK, delving into eventing can seem daunting at first. However, with the right information and guidance, embarking on an eventing journey can be an incredibly rewarding experience. This guide is designed to introduce beginners to the exciting world of eventing in the UK.

Understanding Eventing

Eventing is a triathlon of equestrian sports, consisting of three distinct phases that test different aspects of the horse and rider’s abilities:

  1. Dressage: This phase evaluates the horse’s obedience, flexibility, and harmony with the rider through a series of predetermined movements in an arena. It sets the foundation for the disciplines that follow, emphasising precision and grace.

  2. Cross-Country: The heart of eventing, the cross-country phase, tests the horse and rider’s bravery, endurance, and speed. Competitors navigate a course of natural and man-made obstacles, including water jumps, ditches, and banks, across varied terrain.

  3. Show Jumping: This final phase assesses the horse’s agility and accuracy, as well as the rider’s ability to maintain focus and precision after the demanding cross-country day. Riders jump a course of coloured fences in an arena, aiming to clear all obstacles without incurring faults.

The History of Eventing in the UK

Eventing has deep roots in military tradition, originally designed to test cavalry horses’ and riders’ fitness and versatility. In the UK, eventing has evolved from its military origins into a popular civilian sport, with a well-established eventing calendar that includes prestigious competitions such as the Badminton Horse Trials and the Burghley Horse Trials. British Eventing (BE) is the governing body for the sport in the UK, overseeing event organisation, rules, and competitor rankings.

Getting Started in Eventing

Education and Training

For those new to eventing, understanding the basics of horse care, riding, and the three phases of eventing is essential. Many equestrian centres in the UK offer lessons in dressage, show jumping, and even introductory cross-country riding. Joining a local riding club or eventing group can also provide valuable learning opportunities and support from more experienced riders.

Equipment and Attire

Safety is paramount in eventing, particularly in the cross-country phase. Riders typically wear protective gear, including a helmet, body protector, and, in some cases, an air vest that inflates upon falling. Horses also wear protective boots and, in cross-country, a breastplate to keep the saddle in place. Dress codes for competition are specific to each phase, with more formal attire for dressage and practical, safety-focused gear for cross-country.

Finding the Right Horse

Eventing requires a versatile and athletic horse. For beginners, leasing a horse experienced in lower-level eventing can be an excellent way to gain experience without the immediate commitment of ownership. Your coach or local eventing community can provide advice and connections for finding suitable horses.

Competing in Eventing

British Eventing offers competitions at various levels, from introductory classes designed for newcomers to the sport, up to advanced levels competing at national championships. Starting at the lower levels allows you and your horse to gain experience and confidence before progressing to more challenging courses.

The Eventing Community

The eventing community in the UK is vibrant and welcoming, with clubs and organisations across the country. Participating in clinics, volunteering at events, and attending competitions as a spectator are great ways to immerse yourself in the sport and meet fellow enthusiasts.


Eventing is a demanding but incredibly rewarding discipline that offers a unique blend of challenges and thrills. For newcomers to the equestrian world in the UK, taking the first step into eventing opens up a path of adventure, learning, and camaraderie. With dedication, the right guidance, and a passion for horses, the world of eventing awaits.

© Vet Verified 2024