Horse Riding Events and Disciplines

A glossary of horse riding events and disciplines

Horse Events and Disciplines Explained

Whether you are new to riding or just looking for some new activities to try with your horse our simple glossary of horse disciplines should help.

Show Jumping:

This involves riding your horse round a course of jumps as accurately and as fast as possible. You get penalty points for every jump knocked down or for the first time your horse refuses a jump. However, if your horse refuses a jump a second time you are eliminated so it pays to be careful and encourage your horse.


Dressage involves getting the horse to perform a preset list of movements at various locations around an arena as accurately and gracefully as possible. Dressage is the ballet of the horse world and requires a great partnership between horse and rider. Some dressage competitions now hold dressage to music classes.

Cross Country:

The aim of cross country is to complete a course of solid wooden jumps set out across a long distance through the countryside. The winner is the rider who completes the course in the quickest time without making any mistakes or having any refusals.


Both horse and rider need to be very fit to take part in endurance competitions. It requires riders to complete a route across country and roads of anywhere from 30 Km to 160 Km in a set time. You get penalty points for being too fast and too slow and the rider that finishes in the optimum time wins.


Showing is open to all horses of all ages whether ridden or not. There are usually classes open to certain breeds, heights, ages, colours as well as novelty classes like fancy dress. The aim is to present your horse in the best way possible and classes usually require you to walk, trot and canter your horse as part of a group and then on your own as part of an individual show.


This is essentially cross country except the jumps are not made of solid wood but are able to be knocked down like show jumps. This allows people the chance to try cross country without the worry of solid wooden jumps and the possibility of injury to the horse.

One day / three day event:

At a one day event a competitor has to complete a show jumping class, a dressage test and a cross country course in the same day. The winner is the rider who scored best overall taking into account their scores for each of the three events. A three day event is the same but over three days with one discipline per day.

Horse Agility:

This is a sport designed to be done in hand rather than whilst ridden. It is just like dog agility but with much larger obstacles. The aim is to get the horse to do the obstacles as accurately as possible but they must do it willingly and without any pressure from the owner.

Le Trec:

Le Trec has three main parts to; map reading, control of paces and obstacles. The map reading phase requires the horse and rider to ride a route using only a map and compass. In the control of paces phase you are required to canter down a track as slow as you can and then walk back as fast as you can. The obstacles round requires you to tackle a variety of different hazards that you might encounter whilst out hacking. The more accurate you are the better. The rider with the best overall score wins.


Horseball is a fast paced, exhilarating team sport which is best described as basketball on horseback. The team that scores the most goals wins the game.

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