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New Group Promotes Eventing in the Mid-South


By Stephanie Kinsler

A combined test schooling show in October 2020 in Olive Branch, Mississippi started the ball rolling for the creation of a group of eventing enthusiasts: Memphis Eventing. At this combined test, a group of Memphis area riders chatted about their shared love of the sport of eventing and how they would like to connect with more riders who enjoy the sport.

Eventing consists of three phases: dressage, cross country, and stadium jumping. A combined test is a shortened version: a dressage test plus a stadium course.

Inspired by that happenstance meeting, eventing enthusiast Kim Clark created a new Facebook group called Memphis Eventing. Anyone interested in eventing can request to join the group, and it’s a great place to find practice events that help riders reach the ultimate goal of competing in a three-phase horse trial, or a United States Eventing Association (USEA) sanctioned event. The group has been active for six months and currently has 441 members.

Aside from sharing knowledge, events, and support, the Memphis Eventing group is also planning a combined test show series, which will be hosted by Southwind Stables in Olive Branch and North Grove Equestrian Park in Oxford, Mississippi. Members are also discussing having educational workshops, social events, and a Ride-a-Test Dressage clinic this fall at Windyrein Farm in Eads, TN.

Memphis Eventing is hosting a Meet & Greet at the Experience Equestrian League (ExEL) horse show at the Germantown Charity Horse Show grounds June 25-27, as well as sponsoring MemPops at the show. To learn more about eventing in general, visit, and eventing in the mid-south, visit the Memphis Eventing Facebook Group. Upcoming combined tests are:
August 21 at Southwind Stables
October 30 at Southwind Stables
December 4 at North Grove Equestrian Park
December 18 at Southwind Stables
Some terminology for those unfamiliar with the sport:

The sport of eventing consists of three phases: dressage, cross country, and stadium jumping. The challenge is to perform well in all three phases.

The first phase is the dressage test, in which the horse/rider team performs a series of specified movements and is given a score from one to ten on each movement. The test is scored on accuracy, rhythm, and relaxation in all movements, plus four scores called “collective marks.”  A dressage judge rates each movement, and the scores are added up and divided by the total points to get a percentage. In dressage shows, the highest percentage is desirable. In eventing, dressage scores are converted to “penalty points,” with the lowest points desirable. For example, a dressage score of a 70% would convert to a penalty percentage of 30% for a dressage phase in eventing. A seven out of ten on each movement for an overall score of 30 is a very competitive score at many USEA events. 

The second phase is cross country jumping where competitors tackle approximately16 solid obstacles across varied terrain.  Many eventers consider cross country as the “fun” part.

The last phase is stadium jumping, over which the rider and horse negotiate a series of obstacles in a ring setting, much like a jumper course.

In a “combined test,” participants ride a dressage test and then jump a stadium course of eight or nine obstacles. The rider/horse pair with the lowest dressage score and least amount of time and jump faults wins their division.

What makes eventing so thrilling is that each phase is equally important, with the dressage (flatwork) forming the basis for successful jumping efforts. A leader after dressage can lose that position if there are penalties on cross country. As well, a leader after the first two phases can retain that position with a clear round, or lose it with a single rail knockdown or a time penalty of just a few seconds. That can make the difference between getting a ribbon and going home empty-handed.

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