Dressage The object of dressage is the harmonious development of the physique and ability of the horse. As a result, it makes the horse not only calm, supple, loose, and flexible, but also confident, attentive and keen, thus achieving perfect understanding with the rider. The horse should give the impression of doing on his own accord that which is required of him.
Driving Combined driving competitions consist of three very different sections. First is the dressage test to illustrate the harmony between driver and horse as they drive a set pattern. The cross-country is a marathon where horse and driver must maneuver around and through different obstacles. The cone course is performed at the end of the competition and demonstrates how well horses have recovered physically and mentally from the stress of the marathon.
Endurance An endurance ride is a competition to test the speed and endurance ability of the horse and the knowledge of the rider to properly use and pace his horse across country. It is an athletic event where the same horse and rider must complete a measured course within a specified time period. Throughout the course, there are predetermined check points where veterinarians determine if the horses are sound and metabolically fit to continue, or if they must be withdrawn from the ride. The horse with the fastest time wins.
Eventing Developed from the tests for the ideal military charger, eventing involves working a horse both on the flat and over jumps. An eventing competition is like an equine triathlon, where horses must perform one or more tests from the following disciplines: dressage, cross-country and show jumping. The dressage test is to demonstrate the intense training the horse and rider have achieved by performing each movement with balance, suppleness, and precision timing. The cross-country course requires horses and riders to bravely jump over obstacles at a gallop, demonstrating their stamina. The show jumping portion allows the horse to display his balance and suppleness in the tight turns and short distances between the fences.
Reining Reining is a judged event that brings ranch type horses into the show arena to demonstrate the horse's athletic ability. Contestants are required to run one of several approved patterns, which include small slow circles, large fast circles, flying lead changes, roll backs over the hocks, 360-degree spins done in place and the exciting sliding stops that are the hallmark of the reining horse.
Show Jumping This is an exacting sport, demanding a well-planned path of travel and testing the physical and mental stamina of horse and rider. Riders and horses jump a specially designed course of 15 to 20 obstacles within a set time limit. Faults, or pentalty points are accumulated if the horse refuses or brings down the highest element of an obstacle, or if the time allowed is exceeded. The ultimate goal is a clean, or no fault, round.