Eventing is one of the three Olympic equestrian sports and will be featured once again at the Paris 2024 Summer Games.

Eventers are the triathletes of the equestrian world, completing three phases of competition that challenge their agility, bravery, and stamina.

Spectators can look forward to impressive displays of athleticism and precision, with the world’s top horses and riders showcasing their prowess in dressage, cross-country and show jumping.

The Olympic Games have been instrumental in shaping eventing into the modern sport loved by riders and spectators today. At the Paris Olympics this July, the best equine athletes will compete at the Palace of Versailles, providing a historic backdrop for the event.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the competition, teams, and schedule for equestrian eventing at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Eventing in the Olympics

The sport of eventing combines dressage, cross-country, and show jumping into a single competition, testing the versatility and endurance of both horse and rider.

Eventing traces its roots back to military cavalry training, where officers and horses needed to demonstrate their capabilities in a variety of disciplines.

Over the past century, eventing has evolved from a military test to a modern sport, introducing changes to maintain its place in the Olympic Games. Although these changes made eventing more accessible, it remains one of the most challenging sports in the Olympics.

History

Equestrian eventing first appeared in the Olympic program at the Stockholm 1912 Olympic Games. Only commissioned officers could compete in eventing at the early Olympics, which included a complicated speed and endurance test with five phases. [1]
Male civilians first became eligible to participate in the Olympic eventing competition at the 1952 Helsinki Games. While Olympic equestrian sports are known for gender equality today, women could not compete in Olympic eventing until 1964. [1]

Every Olympic Games since 1912 has featured the equestrian sports of eventing, dressage, and jumping. These three sports are part of the Paris 2024 program and are also confirmed for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

Competition Format

After the 2000 Sydney Games, the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) developed a new short format that eliminated several phases of the endurance test to simplify the competition. Before the change, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) considered dropping eventing due to the cost and land required. [2]

Today, the Olympic eventing competition consists of three phases:

Horse and rider pairs complete each phase on a separate day over three days of competition. [2]

Combinations earn a final score based on the total penalties earned throughout the competition. The lowest total score wins. Athletes can earn team and individual medals in Olympic eventing, with teams winning medals based on the combined performance of every rider.

The eventing format at future Olympics may look slightly different. In 2023, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) requested a revised format for LA 2028 that ensures every phase can be held at the same venue and that cross country, the most popular phase, is scheduled for the final day of competition.

Attire and Equipment

Each phase of eventing has slightly different equipment and attire guidelines. Horses often have different saddles and bridles that optimize communication and rider balance for each phase.

Riders must wear protective headgear whenever mounted. During cross country, riders also wear safety vests over light-weight clothing. Boots protect the horse’s legs during cross-country and jumping. [2]

Attire for the jumping and dressage phases resembles the outfits worn by riders who compete in those disciplines. Eventers wear a tailcoat for dressage and a short show coat for jumping.

Olympic Eventing Sport Organizations

Equestrian sports organizations partner with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to develop the format for every Olympic equestrian competition, including eventing.

International Federation for Equestrian Sports

Also known as the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI), the International Federation for Equestrian Sports is the official world horse sport governing body recognized by the IOC. The FEI governs all international eventing competitions, including the Olympics.

National Federations

National federations nominate the eventing teams that will represent their countries at the Olympic Games. These federations govern national equestrian competitions and collaborate with