What exactly is equine ‘eventing’?

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WINONA, Ohio – An event doesn’t just occur. It is a lesson in long-term planning.
Dave and Jackie Smith, owners of Stone Gate Farm outside Hanoverton, Ohio, could write books about that kind of planning. If they had the time.
As it is, when the last horse trailer departed after their May two-day combined training event, they had just enough time to sigh with relief – and start thinking about the next one.
It is a cycle Smiths started more than two decades ago with their first event at Bill and Ginny Huffman’s farm three miles away.
Jackie, who had ridden at intermediate level at international events on the East Coast, and her husband, Dave, a veterinarian in Winona, bought the 80-acre farm to set up as an event grounds. Over the years they have added two dressage rings, more than 150 cross-country jumps and stabling for dozens of visiting event horses.
Day One. The first part of Smith’s two-day event includes the dressage test and the stadium jumping competition. Elegantly turned-out horse and rider teams individually negotiate a series of movements, called a test, on the flat. Judges look for precision, flexibility, obedience, balance and rhythmic flow, scoring each prescribed movement in the test. The rider is aiming for a low score.
In the afternoon of the first day, horses who have not been eliminated in the dressage phase participate in stadium jumping. Points are added to the horse’s dressage score if a jump is knocked down, if the horse refuses to jump an obstacle or if it takes too long to complete the course of about 12 to 14 jumps.
Day Two. On the second day, cross country riders leave the starting box individually at regular intervals to gallop across a 1- to 2-mile course of about 20 solid fences placed strategically around the acreage. The size and difficulty of the fences are set according to the experience of the riders in the division.
If a horse goes off course, it is eliminated from the competition. Refusals and time penalties are added to the horse’s score.
At the end of the horse trial, the horse with the fewest penalties wins the division.

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