via Getty

Eventing is one of the most auspicious sports in the Olympics, but also the most dangerous. At the Tokyo Olympics 2021, eventing will feature some of the world’s best dueling it out for gold, silver and bronze. Not only does the team benefit, but individual medals are up for grabs too.

Eventing at the Tokyo Olympics 2021

via Reuters

In eventing, competitors take part in a series of contests, ranging from cross-country, dressage and show jumping, Yes, eventing includes the other two major sports in equestrian. Aside from having their own separate competitions, they have a special significance in eventing. Therefore eventing is the triathlon of equestrian.


Article continues below this ad

Eventing got its Olympic berth in 1912, with military officers showcasing their skills with their horses. After a century, it has blossomed into a beautiful yet deadly sport, practiced by many but perfected by few. In the past we’ve seen some legendary performances, most notably from Sir Mark Todd of New Zealand, Michael Jung from Germany and Michael Plumb from the US.

In terms of danger, eventing has led to quite a few rider deaths in the past decades. Between 1997 and 2008, 37 riders lost their lives during eventing. Danger to the horse is as much a concern as rider safety, with measures put in place to ensure no damage.

Rider attire depends upon the phase. For cross-country, riders need to sport a body protector vest and an Olympic approved helmet. Lightweight polo shirts are a preferred outfit and gloves aren’t compulsory. For dressage, the outfits must fit the Grand prix dressage norms. from the stock tie to the long boots.

Structure for eventing at the Tokyo Olympics 2021

The structure of the eventing competitions at the Olympics has changed multiple times, but are according to FEI regulations. The main reason for these changes are the grueling tasks the rider-horse combinations must perfect in the hunt for gold. What began as a five-day event is now a three-day event which includes five rounds.

The same horse applies to every event, which means the rider-athlete combination has to practice thrice as hard. In the dressage event, combinations perform a series of tests (walk, canter and trot). The cross-country event features 40-45 obstacles that the horse must clear within a time limit. Finally, jumping requires the combinations to clear a field of 9-12 obstacles.

The penalty point system came into existence in 1971, and is the means to reduce points for errors. We’ll get to scoring the rules section after we discuss the format of eventing. Fifteen teams take part with three riders each. Individual and team competitions run concurrently, like dressage.

Rules and scoring for eventing


Article continues below this ad

Eventing combines three equestrian sports, making the scoring extremely complicated. Dressage has a subjective scoring with judges scoring the combinations out of ten. These scores convert into percentages and penalty points chip away at that score which rounds off to one decimal digit.

For cross-country, points are deduced for jumping errors and crossing the time limit. In jumping, twenty penalty points apply to an obstacle refusal (if the horse refuses to cross an obstacle) and 40 for the second refusal. Points apply even for the precision of the jump, with fifteen to twenty points allotted based on the error. Falling off the horse results in automatic elimination.


Article continues below this ad

Team medals are awarded based on the combined scores of all team members across the three phases. Those athletes in the hunt for individual medals have it tougher, as they compete in an extra jumping event, making it one cross-country, one dressage and two show jumping performances.

Read more: Tokyo Olympics 2021: Three Debutantes Who Could Steal the Show in Equestrian