The World Equestrian Games are comprised of the world championships for eight equestrian sports. The Games are held every four years, two years prior to the Olympic Games, and are governed by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI). Dressage
The FEI Rules describe the object of Dressage, which means “training” in French, as “the development of the horse into a happy athlete through harmonious education. As a result, it makes the horse calm, supple, loose and flexible, but also confident, attentive and keen, thus achieving perfect understanding with his rider.”
In the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special competitions of dressage, each horse and rider perform the same test, a combination of movements and gaits, designed to demonstrate the level of achievement of those qualities described above.
Five judges mark the prescribed movements in each test independently of each other. The horse and rider achieving the highest score is the winner. In the popular Freestyle competition, the rider designs and choreographs an original test to be ridden to music of their choice, using the same movements required in the regular Grand Prix test but combined according to the rider’s individual musical and artistic goals.
The WEG World Championship Combined Driving Event is competed for by four-in-hand drivers only. This means that each driver drives a team of four horses throughout the three competitions of the event. The three competitions are Driven Dressage, Marathon and Obstacle Cones Driving.
In Driven Dressage as in ridden dressage, all competitors drive the same test and are judged on the qualities of “freedom, regularity of paces, harmony, impulsion, suppleness, lightness, and ease of movement and the correct bending of the horses on the move. The competitors are also judged on style, accuracy, and general control of their horses and also on their dress, condition of the harness and vehicle and the presentation of the whole turnout.”
The exciting Marathon competition requires the Driver to drive a course across country, to test the fitness, stamina and training of the Horses, and the Driving skill, judgment of pace and general horsemanship of the competitor. The course is divided into three sections, with a maximum allowed distance of 18 km. The final section includes eight marked obstacles. Exceeding the optimum time for the entire course and the time taken in each of the obstacles incurs penalties.
The final competition the Obstacle -Cone competition, is to test the fitness, obedience and suppleness of the horses after the Marathon and the skill and competence of the Competitors. The competition requires the competitor to drive his team through a twisting course of cones set close together with balls balanced on top. Going off-course, knocking off a ball or exceeding the time allowed on the course incurs penalties. Final placings are determined by the team with the lowest number of penalties, throughout all three competitions.
An Endurance Ride is a competition testing the speed and the endurance ability of the horse. To be successful, the competitor must have knowledge of pace and efficient and safe use of his horse across country. The competition is against the clock over a distance of 100 miles with at least five compulsory stops for veterinarians to check the horses’ fitness to continue. The competitor who finishes the ride in the shortest time wins.
An all around test of horse and rider, the Three Day Event or CCI comprises three distinct tests, taking place on separate days, during which the competitor rides the same horse throughout.
The Dressage Test (which can be spread over two days depending on the number of competitors) is followed on the next day by the Cross- Country Test. The Cross –Country is a timed test in which each competitor, starting individually, must negotiate a series of solid jumps set in natural terrain which may include jumps into water, over ditches, up and down banks and over large timber.
On the third day the Jumping test is held in a stadium over jumps made of colored poles, brush, and gates. This test is also timed and is designed to exhibit the horse’s jumping ability and willingness to continue after the previous days exertions.
A Jumping competition is one in which the combination of horse and rider is tested under various conditions over a course of obstacles. It is intended to demonstrate the horse’s freedom, energy, skill, speed and obedience in jumping as well as the rider’s horsemanship. The competitor incurs penalties for exceeding the time allowed, for knocking down or refusing to jump an obstacle. The winner is the competitor who finishes with the least number of penalties.
The para dressage discipline provides riders with physical disabilities the opportunity to compete in high performance equestrian sport along side able bodied riders from all over the world. For the first time in the history of equestrian sport, para dressage will be included in the World Equestrian Games in 2010 held in Lexington, Kentucky, at the Kentucky Horse Park. The experience of qualifying for and competing at the highest level offers each rider the chance to represent their country regardless of their disability.
Reining is a judged event designed to show the athletic ability of a western type horse in a show arena. In Reining, competitors are required to run one of several approved patterns. Each pattern includes small slow circles, large fast circles, flying lead changes, roll backs, 360 degree spins done in place, back ups and the exciting sliding stops that are the hallmark of the reining horse.
The sport of Vaulting is a competitive discipline where both gymnastic and dance elements are combined and performed to music on a cantering horse. It requires a harmonious relationship with the horse and outstanding physical condition from the vaulter; these two elements are imperative if a display of strength, co-ordination, rhythm and balance is to be achieved.
As an FEI recognized discipline since 1983, vaulters compete regionally, nationally and worldwide as individuals, pairs -- called pas-de-deux -- and teams. This variety of events creates an engaging competition for spectators as they watch athletes of all ages perform breathtaking routines that include artistic mounts and dismounts, shoulder stands and handstands on the horse, carrying or lifting another vaulter, kneeling and standing exercises. All vaulting competitions are held over two rounds composed of compulsory and freestyle tests. During Compulsory Tests vaulters must perform seven designated exercises that are scored on criteria on a scale from 1 to 10. Freestyle tests, performed to music, allow vaulters the artistic freedom of building both dynamic and static exercises to create an artistic performance. Each vaulter, pair or team creates their own routine to music of their choice.
Judging is based on technique, form, difficulty, balance, security and consideration of the horse. Today, horse, longeur and vaulter are considered a competitive unit and the performance of each is reflected in the final score. Vaulters most important teammate, the horse, must be a consummate athlete with good character, temperament and balance being essential as 20% of the overall score comes from his way of going. The horse is guided on a longe line by a longeur, standing on the ground, who ensures that a steady, true, canter is maintained on a circle with a minimum diameter of 15m while the vaulter performs.