Possessing the most agile yet resilient horses suitable for any type of combat – that was the philosophy that gave rise to eventing, the most demanding of all the equestrian disciplines. Its origins lie in Europe, where soldiers competed in order to test how their horses would react to different situations.
Even as such conflicts dwindled, the sport grew. The first official competition was held in France in 1902, with the sport's popularity spreading to countries including Australia, New Zealand and North America.
In 1912, eventing became part of the equestrian programme at the Stockholm Olympic Games, alongside the jumping and dressage events. Involving both individual and team events, it is considered an 'equestrian triathlon' as it combines dressage, cross country and jumping. An eventing competition takes place over multiple days, and demands strength, stamina, balance and concentration.
The first event is dressage, which may last up to two days depending on the number of competing athletes. Riders and their horses are evaluated on the harmony of their movements by judges.
The second competition is cross country, in which participants jump over rustic obstacles (totalling 42 to 45 jumps, some of which may be combined) in open air, in a given time and with the smallest number of penalties.
The final element is a jumping competition that involves 11 to 13 obstacles with no more than 16 jumps, 1.25m high. The 25 best riders take part in a second jumping round, which has a maximum of nine obstacles and 12 jumps of up to 1.3m high.
Throughout the competition, negative points for each rider and horse are accumulated, and the winner of the event is the rider with the fewest number of penalties overall. Teams are made up of five participants each, and the two worst results are discarded.