Guide to start Eventing – Keeping it real. What? And how much?


Guide to start Eventing – Keeping it real. What? And how much?

Eventing is a glorious thing in all its forms. No other horse sport requires so much from horse and rider in so many opposing directions, and it is no surprise that it continues to grow and thrive. The camaraderie and close knit community nature of eventing makes it a lovely sport to be involved in, in any capacity, from grass roots to 4*.

Of course, it has its well-publicised dark side which, has so sadly contributed to pushing horseback riding to the number one spot in the world’s most dangerous sports – currently ahead of Bull riding and cheerleading. Overall though, many people find it a very worthwhile and enjoyable sport to be involved in. But how do you get started Eventing? There are so many forums and websites with advice on just this – some factual and helpful, others terrifying and written by Walt Disney. Never fear! Thanks to my chequered time eventing, I am here to bring you the realist’s version. Brace yourself.

Step 1: I’m assuming you can rise to the trot, own some sort of horse and know the ears from the tail. Right. Anyone from novice to professional can aspire to go eventing but you must first prepare. Go to the bank, withdraw a large sum of money – around $5k – take it outside and set it free in the breeze. Be completely fine about it. Go home. You are now ready for step two.

Step 2: Once you can manage some strange shaped polyhedrons in a ridiculously small rectangle in walk, trot and canter occasionally on command AND you can even halt sometimes (show off), you can do a dressage test. I advise you refrain from extensive displays of gratitude toward the horse for staying within said rectangle and not running the judge down until you get back to your trailer.

 Step 3: If you can steer your way around an 80cm fences, stay on, remember the course, count from 1-9 and stay in the arena, you have the show jumping basics covered. Don’t worry if the poles fall down, but refrain from swearing at your horse and threatening it with the barbecue, until you get back to your trailer.

Step 4: If you are religious, now can be a good time to pray to your deity. The cross country tends to instil a feeling of wanting to vomit/pass out/run away in most riders from intro to 4*. Apparently this is a GOOD THING. It means you are ‘ready to perform’. Perform what? I have no idea – but anyway. You will need to have shown – and perhaps even gotten over – a variety of fences from ditches to water to hedges and so on during your eventing preparation. Assuming you can manage this with some sort of functioning braking system, a vague sense of direction and again, that all important ability to count past 5 – well then you’re ready to give it a go.

Step 5: Retrospection in the more charitable type of human being can often lead to easily forgetting the horrors of your day Eventing, and vivid memories of the brilliant bits. The only other area of life where this also rings true is childbirth. Much like parents of one child, you will probably think that doing this again is a GREAT IDEA. All I can say is, good luck……


My key points:

  • Beware the event horse. The marvellous, flashy expensive ones with Olympic capability are often on the psychotic side and full of unreasonable demands. The rather less exotic horse with less alarmist tendencies and a good heart are the best types to start you on your Eventing journey.
  • Read the rules. Don’t land yourself with fines for remounting (*looks sheepish*), penalties for using the wrong equipment, crossing your tracks, etc., etc.
  • Turn yourself and your horse out as well as you can. Clip hairy heels, read the rules for correct dress and practice plaiting.
  • Always say thank-you to everyone and smile like crazy, even if you really want to cry/quit/sell your horse to the gypsies
  • Try to enjoy yourself!!! And don’t sweat the small stuff, like poles down or now having no money and even less sanity.  ENJOY!!!!


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