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35 Fascinating Equestrian Competition Facts (Horse-Jumping, Dressage & More)

Nicole Cosgrove

Horse racing is a wonderful sport. It’s exciting with elements of strategy, luck, and skill. However, there can be a lot to learn for someone new to the game, so we’ve decided to create a list of Equestrian competition facts to help you understand the game a little better. We’re confident that after you read over our list, you will know what is going on while you are watching a race or participating behind the scenes to become a jockey or breeder.

horse shoe dividerFascinating Equestrian Competition Facts

Show Jumping

  • In show jumping, a rider must ride a horse through a set course of jumps while being timed.
  • There are several types of jumps, including the Crossrail jump, Liverpool jump, Hogsback jump, Triple Bar jump, and Oxer jump.
  • Not all horse breeds can jump. The best jumpers that you typically see in competitions are Thoroughbreds and Warmbloods.
Image Credit: NeelShakilov, Pixabay

Dressage

  • Dressage competitions are about the horse’s obedience to the rider instead of its ability to jump or run fast.
  • Horses must complete a course following the proper sequences, usually marked for the audience with a series of letters.
  • There can be a freestyle event called “Dancing on Horseback” in dressage competitions that has the rider dress up with tight pants, a coat, and a top hat to impress the audience with the horse’s graceful movements.
  • Horses that compete in the Olympics Dressage competition must go through many years of training to prepare.
  • Dressage horses train on six methods: rhythm, relaxation, contact, impulsion, straightness, and collection.
  • Warmblood horses are popular in dressage competitions, but you will also see Morgans, American Paint Horses, Andalusians, and others.
  • The Federation Equestre Internationale sets the rules for the Dressage test and competition.

Eventing

  • Eventing is a complex event that combines Show Jumping, Dressage, and Cross Country Running into a single competition.
  • Eventing is a competition based on old military tests of the cavalry.
  • The Cross-Country part of Eventing has the horse canter at high speed to jump over solid objects like walls, water, ditches, and logs.
  • The Cross-Country part of Eventing tests the horse’s strength and trust in its rider.
  • Many breeders consider Eventing to be the ultimate test of a horse.
  • Some Eventing competitions can last as long as three days.
Horse running in the grass
Image Credit: Rencie Horst, Pixabay

Hunter-Jumper

  • Hunter-Jumper competitions are unique in that judges do not look at the horse in any way, and different kinds of horses will compete against each other, including horses and ponies.
  • Different horses can compete because the judge’s only concern is the riders’ ability to control the horse.
  • The Hunter-Jumper competition dates back to the 1600s.
  • Hunter-Jumper competitions were created to test the horse and rider’s ability to fox hunt, which required the rider to follow dogs through rough and unpredictable terrain.
  • The Hunter-Jumper competition judges the rider on position and control of the horse.
  • The way you dress will affect your score when competing in the Hunter-Jumper competitions.

Stock Work

  • A Stock Work Competition judges the horse and rider on their ability to complete tasks common to a rancher. These tasks include calf roping, cattle penning, barrel racing, cutting, reining, and more.
  • Stock Work Competitions are common at fairs across the United States.
  • Stok Work competitions are good for locating horses that will work well in the fields.
Image Credit: WenPhotos, Pixabay

Driving

  • Driving is a competition that tests the horse’s ability to pull a wagon or cart and it’s judged how much weight it can pull and how far.
  • During Driving Competitions, the rider will sit on the carriage to direct the hose.
  • Diving horses are typically large breeds like the Clydesdale with big hooves that enable them to pull the heavy weight.
  • Harness racing is a similar competition that involves smaller horses and lighter carriages built for speed.

Racing

  • Racing primarily tests the horse’s speed against other horses.
  • The Thoroughbred is a popular horse for racing, but you will see other breeds as well.
  • Endurance races are similar to standard races, but they typically last a lot longer to test the horse’s endurance over time.
  • Jockeys are the name given to professional horse racers.
  • Horse racing first became popular in England in the early 1900s
  • Queen Elizabeth, the current Queen of England, played a large part in the popularity of horse racing that we enjoy today, and she continues to ride even at her advanced age.

Related Read: 10 Fascinating Horse Racing Facts You Never Knew

horse shoe divider new do not useSummary

As you can see, there are many facts involved with horse competitions and a lot of rules to learn. We recommend focusing on one type of competition and learning everything you can about it before moving on to another to minimize the learning curve while maximizing enjoyment.  Most people we talk to don’t realize learning such a complex sport could be so much fun, and in no time, you will know all of the rules and will be helping others.

We hope you have enjoyed reading over these facts and learned something new. If we have convinced you to get involved with horse racing, please share these 35 fascinating equestrian competition facts on Facebook and Twitter.


Featured Image Credit: RebeccasPictures, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.