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Beginner's guide to Olympic three-day eventing

Olympic Equestrian

The three-day event is an individual and a team competition
Riders compete for individual and team three-day event medals at
the Olympics.

To win the three-day event, rider and horse must excel in three
different discliplines - dressage, cross country and showjumping.

The winner is the rider or the team with the least penalty points
at the end of the competition.

Both competitions will be held together in Athens, with an
additional round of showjumping after team medals are decided to
determine individual placings.

A nation may enter five riders in a team but only the best three
scores count.

Should there be a tie at the end of the competition, the rider or
team with the best cross-country score is the winner.

The first day takes the form of a dressage competition, and the
climax is the showjumping.

In between is the most gruelling test, the cross-country.

This consists of a 5.2-kilometre course with a maximum of 45
"jumping efforts", with a double fence counting as two efforts.

Some of the jumps are more than a metre high and include perilous
routes over water, ditches and banks, though there is usually an
easier but longer route round.

Competitors who make it to the final event have to negotiate 10
to 12 obstacles in the showjumping.

It is easier than the showjumping medal event, but tough on a
horse that has completed the arduous cross-country section just
the day before.

Scoring for the three-day event is as follows:

Dressage - Riders must perform a set of 20 moves and are marked
by judges for each move, how they control the horse and the
obedience, pace and control of the animal.

They are penalized for each error. Points are converted into a
penalty point score ready to add the penalties incurred in the
next phases.

Cross-country - Penalty points are awarded for every second over
the time limit.

Twenty points are awarded if the horse refuses to jump an
obstacle, a second refusal at the same fence costs 40 points and
a third means elimination.

A fall for the rider costs 65 points, but a fall for the horse
means automatic elimination. The horse is considered to have
fallen if his quarters touch the ground.

Showjumping - Knocking down a fence, or a refusal, costs four
penalty points; a second refusal eight points. A third refusal
means elimination.

A fall for the rider also costs eight points.

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