Anyone who competes in the sport of eventing, or horse trials, knows how many different rules apply. This sport is made up of three disciplines, namely dressage, cross-country and show jumping and each area has distinct rules when it comes to the tack and equipment that is allowed. The rules are slightly different from the pure stand-alone disciplines to accommodate the nature of horse and rider that compete at eventing. It is also worth checking the equipment rules set by each country, as you may find minor variations if you decide to travel abroad for competitions.
It is common to use two saddles. These are a dressage and a jumping saddle, although when starting off, a decent general purpose one that fits well will do the job adequately. At the very top levels, most riders will also possess a separate cross-country saddle to allow horse and rider to cope better with the different terrains and obstacles.
Bits are an important consideration and within the dressage phase, horses must be ridden in a snaffle bit only. The only exception is at the upper levels of competition, when a double bridle is permitted. The rules are strict on the type of snaffle allowed, as some are considered too severe, such as twisted snaffles. Nosebands that can be used with a snaffle include a cavesson, flash, drop or a figure eight. Cavessons are used with double bridles or crank nosebands. Spurs, neck straps and breastplates are the only other equipment allowed within this phase.
Within the show jumping and cross-country phase, there is more flexibility of equipment allowed for the safety and comfort of both horse and rider. Fly fringes, side reins, running reins, draw reins, chambons, equiboots, blinkers, standing martingales and other martingales, except for running and Irish, are not permitted. The bit choice is extensive, including bitless bridles and curbs. Leg boots are also allowed and encouraged to protect against knocks and accidents.
Regardless of which country you compete in, you should always carry a box of spares and a basic first aid kit with you, in case of breakages or accidents. Dressings and bandages are essential to patch up wounds until veterinary help arrives. Poultice boots are essential for treating hoof and foot wounds, such as a puncture or bad cut. In the sport of eventing, it is always better to carry too much with you than too little, as it is a challenging discipline with many factors to consider. Knowing you are fully prepared and complying with all the rules will always make for a more relaxed and enjoyable competition.