Susie Berry and Monbeg By Design at the FEI World Championships. Photo: Irish Eventing Times

Eventing is one of the Olympic equestrian sports. It consists of three disciplines – dressage, show jumping and cross country. The dressage phase is always completed first, followed by show jumping and cross country, in either order. The same horse and rider combination must complete all three phases.

Team and individual competitions are contested at the same time at Olympic Games and Championships.

Penalties can be incurred throughout all three phases, the aim of Eventing is to have as few penalties as possible with the lowest score winning.

In the dressage phase athletes are required to complete a test showing a set pattern of movements. The dressage phase is judged and each movement is scored out of 10, with the overall score being converted into penalties. The horse and rider are judged on obedience, flexibility and harmony.

In the cross country phase the horse and rider must complete a course of fences, including a range of natural obstacles such a water, banks, logs etc. The cross country phase tests the fitness of horse and rider, as well as the courage, strength and accuracy. Penalties can be incurred for jumping errors and refusals. Exceeding the time allowed also results in penalties being incurred. Any penalties incurred during the cross country are added to the dressage score.

The show jumping phase follows the same rules as pure show jumping, with the horse and rider completing a course of knock-able fences within the time allowed. Penalities are incurred if the horse knocks a fences or goes over the time allowed, these are added to the combined scored following dressage and cross country.


Courses vary in the level of difficulty and are generally graded according to the height of the fences being jumped, and the difficulties of the dressage test. National competitions range from 80cm and 90cm up to 1.20m.

International competition starts with CCI1* and progresses to CCI5*. The difficulty of the dressage test, height of the fences and technical ability required all increase as you progress up the levels. International events are overseen by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI). 

Ireland hosts a number of international events throughout the year, details of which can be found on the Eventing Ireland Website.

National Eventing

The sport is administered in Ireland by Eventing Ireland. To find out more about getting involved in Eventing at national level contact Eventing Ireland.

Eventing Ireland, 1st Floor, Beech House, Millennium Park, Osberstown, Naas, Co. Kildare.
Tel: +353 (0)83 026 0501 / 353 (0)83 019 8155
Email: headoffice@eventingireland.com
Website: www.eventingireland.com
Contact: Tricia Clark, Administrator / Jane Grace, Operations