Eventing presents the ultimate challenge of horsemanship as it requires horse and rider to perform three totally different disciplines within the same competition: dressage, cross country and show jumping. To conquer one or even two is not enough to win, so as the competition develops, so does the pressure. It takes at least four years of training to prepare a horse for an event of Bramham’s level, and the difference between success and failure can be a simple matter of dropping a pole or not having the perfect circle in the dressage test. (Extract from the Bramham Park, 3 day event page, http://bramham-horse.co.uk/bramham-2014/three-day-event/eventing-explained/)
Thursday consists of Dressage – prancing around to a test created by people of a higher realm.
Friday consists of more Dressage.
Saturday consists of Cross Country – the most exciting and popular day for spectating, is your favourite horse and rider combination going to make it around the course, or is the water jumper just too taxing this time?
Showjumping, for the CIC*** competition (a shorter course, and a shorter time allowed but all happens on the same day so a different type of endurance during the competition), happens before the Cross Country – so the Cross Country turns out to be the decider of who ends on which side of the podium.
Sunday consists of Showjumping for any combination in the CCI***.
Showjumping – jumping a course of jumps at a certain height, with lots of scary things, or plants or spreads to try and catch the combination out. A straight line up to the jump and a secure pole in the cups is vital for anyone. Normally the combinations jump in reverse order, thus making the Top 10, great fun to watch and rather nail biting for the top 5. Anything can change the last result, you can be lying at 1st and end up 7th due to a knocked pole or a time fault.
Every day brings different types of spectators, dressage tends to attract those who are interested in the movement of horses, the way that the rider is able to get the horse to go and the general atmosphere of the event. Cross Country attracts the whole family, the mum likes to go shopping, the children like to see the different horses jumping big and the men enjoy the amount of beer that is involved in spectating the water jump and the dogs enjoy the walking and making new canine buddies.
Saturday is seen as the socialising day, teenagers meet up at a place where parents allow but can disappear from their sight, Pony Club come to support their team during the games; farmers old and new arrive with different styles of Land Rover or pick up truck, looking out for a new bit of equipment or a horse themed gift for the Mrs.
The Showjumping brings the dedicated fans, those that will be biting their nails as each jump is jumped but similarly it attracts those who are on the look out for an ‘end of the event’ sale.
One thing to say for sure, is that there is a hard job counting the ratio between dogs and humans throughout the whole event. Everyone is welcome, and everyone comes!