Intro to World Equestrian Games Disciplines


There are eight disciplines to choose from at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, and with each discipline showing on multiple days it may be hard to decide which event to see. This quick guide to each discipline may help.

Dressage is for those who appreciate beauty and elegance. The term Dressage means “training” in French, and develops a horse’s natural athletic ability and willingness to work.

Through the eyes of spectators, Dressage is like ballet for horses. Communication between horse and rider is crucial as they complete specific movements throughout an arena marked by letters. A well-performed test will look both elegant and accurate.

At the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, competitors will perform Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special and Musical Freestyle tests, the highest levels of Dressage. Five judges will score their performances, and the rider achieving the highest score will be the winner.

For more information about Dressage and to purchase tickets, go to

Combined DrivingDriving:
Driving is a historical sport with a twist. Horse-drawn carriages are maneuvered by a single driver in a variety of situations. At the 2010 Games, teams of four horses will compete in Combined Driving.

The competition includes three phases; driven dressage, marathon and cones. The dressage phase, is completed in an arena where drivers maneuver their horses through a specified set of movements. Drivers receive a score based on the accuracy of their test and how well the team is matched in common movement, obedience and suppleness.

The marathon phase is judged primarily on time. Drivers must complete a course of eight obstacles as quickly as possible over varying terrain. The marathon score is determined by the time and penalties, such as missing a gate or taking a wrong turn.

The cones competition is a test of agility, obedience and suppleness. Drivers must maneuver their team through narrowly spaced sets of cones, in a set amount of time without dislodging weighted balls placed on the cones. The driver who completes all three phases with the lowest number of penalties is the winner.

For more information on Driving and to purchase tickets, go to

Endurance RidingEndurance:
Stamina and determination is what Endurance is all about, and anyone interested in watching a demanding, long-distance race should catch the Endurance competition.

To be successful in a 100-mile Endurance race, the competitor must have knowledge of pace, efficiency and safe use of his horse across long and challenging distances. The competition is timed over a distance of 100 miles with at least five compulsory stops for veterinarians to check the horses’ fitness and evaluate the ability to continue. The competitor who finishes the ride with the most fit horse in the shortest time wins.

For more information about Endurance and to purchase tickets, go to

Three-Day EventingEventing:
Eventing is like a triathlon, with athletic riders and horses competing in three very different elements of horse sport.

Eventing combines scores from dressage, cross-country and jumping over three days of competition events. The first phase is dressage, testing the obedience and elegance of the horse. The score riders receive in their next two phases will be added to their dressage score.

The second phase, cross-country, requires riders to gallop across varying terrain and jump natural obstacles in a set amount of time. This phase is exciting due to the nature of the jumps, including water jumps and log combinations. Riders must complete the course without refusals within the set time to avoid penalties.

The horses undergo mandatory veterinary inspections after cross country. Those who are cleared to continue will move on to the final phase of jumping. The jumping phase takes place in an arena with jumps set to test the horse’s agility and speed. Penalties include knocking down rails, refusals and course variations. The rider finishing with the lowest number of penalties throughout the three phases of competition is the winner.

For more information about Eventing and to purchase tickets, go to

Show JumpingJumping:
If you enjoy life in the fast lane, you might want to check out Jumping. Jumping is all about agility and speed, as horse and rider are required to complete a course of jumps, sometimes more than five feet high, in a set amount of time.

Penalties in jumping are accrued for knocking down rails, refusals, and course variations. Riders with no faults will move on to the Jump-Off, a shortened course completed for the fastest time. The horse and rider with the lowest number of faults and the fastest time are the winners.

At the 2010 Games, Jumping medals will be awarded in both team and individual competitions. On the last day of the individual competition, the leading riders will battle in the “Top Four” where they are required to complete a course on each others’ horses.

For more information about Jumping and to purchase tickets, go to

Para Dressage:
If you want to watch history in the making, be sure to see the Para Dressage competition. Para Dressage is making its World Equestrian Games debut at the 2010 Games. The discipline showcases physically disabled riders performing at a World Championship level.

Riders are assessed by mobility, strength and coordination to establish their classification profile. Their classification profile divides them in Grades, ranging from Grade I (most impaired) to Grade IV (least impaired). Classification is necessary so the athletes are judged on their skills regardless of their disability.

Para-Dressage riders will compete in individual and team events, including the crowd pleasing Musical Freestyle.

For more information about Para Dressage and to purchase tickets, go to

If you like western riding this is the event for you. Reining is designed to show the athletic ability of a “ranch type” horse in an arena. The sport is traced back to the agility needed by ranch horses when herding cattle.

Competitors perform a set pattern that incorporates required movements, such as fast circles, 360 degree spins, flying lead changes and sliding stops. Appropriate attire requires a cowboy hat, collared shirt, and boots. Each pattern starts with a score of 70 and judges can add or deduct points based on the smoothness, attitude, quickness, authority and finesse of each maneuver. The rider or team with the highest score/scores wins.

The Games will feature individual and team competitions. In addition, the 2010 Games will include a Reining Freestyle exhibition event, where horse and rider combinations will complete original reining patterns to music, similar to the Musical Freestyle of Dressage.

For more information about Reining and to purchase tickets, go to

Equestrian VaultingVaulting:
Fans of gymnastics and cheerleading should experience Vaulting at the 2010 Games.  Vaulting is a competitive discipline incorporating both gymnastic and dance movements in harmony with a cantering horse.

Vaulting comes from military training in ancient Greece where riders used balancing tricks in battle. Today, vaulters must complete specific exercises including shoulder stands, handstands, carrying another vaulter, kneeling and standing, all while performed on the back of a horse  and all set to music.

Vaulting requires a high level of physical preparation from the vaulter, the lunger (the person who controls the horse on a lunge line, or rope) and the ability of the horse to receive a high score based on the quality of its gaits.

The 2010 Games will host both team and individual competitions, with compulsory and free style rounds. In the compulsory test, vaulters are required to complete certain movements and are scored from 1-10.

The freestyle test allows vaulters the freedom to create an artistic routine. Judging is based on technique, form and security of the rider while also considering the movement of the horse.

For more information about Vaulting and to purchase tickets, go to



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