The world’s best athletes – both human and equine – take centre stage. Seven unique disciplines: Jumping, Dressage, Eventing, Driving, Endurance, Vaulting, Reining plus Para-Equestrian sport. Located in Lausanne (SUI), the FEI is the governing body for all international events. They establish the regulations and approve equestrian programmes at Championships, Continental and Regional Games as well as the Olympic & Paralympic Games.
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Combined Driving is Eventing with a team of horses and a carriage. The horses and drivers compete in three purposefully similar phases – dressage, marathon, and cones. The fast and furious action of a marathon, the cross-country cousin is largely attributable to the sport's explosion with the public in recent years.
In cross country jumping, the horse and rider’s endurance, skill, and agility are put to the test as they run a prescribed course through fields and forests up to two miles long. The course is set with an optimal time that the horse and rider must complete it in. The team negotiates logs, ditches, streams, banks, hills, and fences in the pursuit of a clear round of zero penalties for disobedience, falls, rider errors or time overage. The lowest score wins.
Dressage is a test of the horse and rider on how well they can perform a series of prescribed movements. The top dressage students have impeccably trained their horses to develop harmonious and fluid movements performed from seemingly imperceptible signals. Dressage is an extremely difficult discipline and has deep historical and classical roots. The USA National and FEI governed levels exist to promote uniformity internationally.
Endurance riding is a timed test of a horse and rider team’s ability to traverse a marked and measured cross country trail over natural terrain covering 50 to 100 miles a day. Riders are allowed twelve hours to complete a 50-mile ride and twenty-four hours for a 100-mile ride.
Eventing is the equestrian’s triathlon: Dressage. Cross Country Jumping. Show Jumping.
It is a true test to a horse and riders’ complete ability – grace, bravery, endurance, poise, and precision. Throughout the event, penalty points accrue. The pair with the lowest score at the end wins.
Horseball is a team sport based on offense and defense with the objective of scoring goals by throwing a ball through a vertical hoop on the opposition's end. There are six team members – four players and two substitutes. Team members must make a minimum of three passes between three players before scoring. The ball cannot be with a rider for more than ten seconds while they are on the attack. When the ball falls, riders must pick it up without dismounting the horse.
Para-equestrianism provides education and competition for athletes with physical disabilities. Beautifully, the sport opens a world of competition to athletes with severe disabilities that might keep them from other team sports. Functional ability is used to group the riders for an even playing field. Para-dressage and driving are the two main competitions. Competitors are found at every level of skill globally. Para-dressage is included in the World Equestrian Games and the Paralympics.
Reining events are designed to show the athletic ability of a ranch-type horse within an arena. The horse and rider perform twelve specific patterns, exhibiting compulsory movements that include small slow circles, large fast circles, flying changes of lead, rollbacks, dizzyingly quick 360-degree spins, and the hallmark sliding stops. Scoring is based on smoothness, finesse, attitude, quickness, and authority.
In a show jumping event, aka stadium jumping, horse and rider are required to jump a series of obstacles within a time limit. The course includes fences no more than 5.25 feet (1.6 meters) high typically placed less than 40 feet (12 meters) apart. There are three major classes that score their competitors based on different standards.
Tent pegging, an ancient cavalry sport, is a mounted game with ground targets. At a gallop, the rider uses a sword or lance to pierce, pick up, and carry away the small target or series of targets. Tent pegging is much more popular internationally than in the United States.
The sport of vaulting combines dance and gymnastics on a moving horse. Vaulters may compete individually, in pairs, or as part of a team. In team competitions, up to three members of the team are on the horse at once doing a variety of moves! Competition levels are broken down by the speed of the horses’ gait.
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