Whether you go eventing as a competitor, owner, groom, volunteer or spectator, here are 6 types of event horse you are sure to recognise. Perhaps you even own or ride one…
1. The double clear jumper
He hates dressage — possible because he’s not best suited to it physically, possibly because his brain’s already on the cross-country course — but always jumps a speedy double clear. His rider’s heroes are Midnight Dazzler and Opposition Buzz (see, improvement is possible) and their greatest ambition is to win the Glentrool Trophy (for biggest rise up the leader board after dressage at Badminton).
2. The perfect FEI pony
He’s been to the past 6 pony Europeans with 4 different riders from 3 different nations and won 8 medals. He’s a mother’s dream because he’s the safest possible conveyance over solid fences, while also being fast, careful showjumping and a star in the dressage arena. Unfortunately most can only dream of owning him, because despite his advancing years, he has a price tag which makes him, pound for pound, the most expensive equine on the planet.
3. The wannabe dressage horse
The opposite of the double clear jumper (see number 1), this horse always scores in the teens for his dressage, but then wrecks it by refusing to go beyond fence 2 across country. Or maybe he goes as far as 6, but won’t have anything to do with ditches/drops/water. His rider should either sell him or give in, buy some bling and join British Dressage, but she’s (and it will be a girl — boys tend to be a bit more realistic and move on the duds) sure they’ll get it together “this time” (every single time, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary).
4. The downgraded 4-star horse
He’s been round Badminton and Burghley and knows everything there is to know about eventing. Now he’s enjoying his twilight years with an amateur or young rider, having been downgraded. The rider doesn’t get a huge amount of say in where he takes off, but they don’t care because he can basically step over these fences. Their greatest problem is trying to go slow enough across country to avoid too fast time-penalties.
5. The mad one
He spends most of his time at events swinging off the end of a leadrope, digging up the lorry park and breaking free for a gallop around. Once under saddle, he’s the one everyone wants to avoid in the dressage warm-up — he’s normally got either his 2 back legs or his 2 front legs on the floor, but rarely all at the same time. If his owner’s lucky, he may also be a double clear jumper (see number 1). If she’s (again, it’ll probably be a girl, who loves him despite his “quirks”) unlucky, he’ll be equally ungovernable in the showjumping and have so many down he’s not allowed to go across country.
6. The amateur’s dream
Standing around 15.2hh, he’s probably dun and there’s a strong dose of something native in his Heinz 57 breeding. He does a solid test, rarely has more than 1 showjump down and generally goes clear cross-country with a few time-faults. We all want one of these, even if what we think we want is a flashy warmblood or a beautiful thoroughbred. You live and learn.
Do you own or ride an eventer that fits any of our stereotypes? Let us know below…
Don’t miss this year’s eventing special issue of Horse & Hound magazine, guest-edited by William Fox-Pitt (6 March 2014)