DRESSAGE on the first day of the competition tests the gaits, suppleness and obedience of the horse through a series of prescribed movements. While judging the Dressage Test on the first day is based on specific criteria understood in detail only by experienced judges and riders, it is basically an evaluation of beauty of movement and obedience. Anyone can judge these characteristics and the spectator's opinion often agrees with the judges.
The CROSS-COUNTRY test on the second day proves the speed, stamina, courage, boldness and jumping ability of the horse and the rider's knowledge of pace and use of the horse across country. Cross-Country is straightforward - the horse and rider either clear the obstacle or they don't. Horses galloping at speed over massive solid obstacles, virtually flying over ditches, leaping up and down banks, and dropping into water prove examples of athletic prowess, and trust between man and animal, that can be seen in no other sporting event. While the rider walks the course beforehand, the horse doesn't see any of the course until it leaves the starting box.
JUMPING in an arena on the third day of competition provides the final test of the horse's athletic ability, conditioning and training. The Jumping Test in a stadium arena on the third day is again simply a matter of jumping the obstacles cleanly. Its significance is that it comes the day following the test of cross-country jumping at speed and clearly illustrates the horse's willingness to listen to its rider. It must now move at a more sedate pace and not touch the obstacles, which are not solid and will fall down. A single rail knocked down can make the difference between winning and finishing far down in the placings.
Horse: Mashantum, Thoroughbred gelding (not for sale)