Collegiate Girls’ High School Equestrian

Horse Riding Disciplines

What are the different Horse Riding disciplines?


Showjumping is competitive precision riding over a set course of obstacles, which although perhaps solid in appearance, are easily knocked down. Each knock or refusal incurs penalties, which are marked against the competitor. The winner is the rider who can jump the course clear, and then jump at least part of it again, raised and this time against the clock, to be clear and faster than any other rider.


Quite simply, dressage means “training” or “preparation”. As described by the FEI: “Dressage, the highest expression of horse training, is considered the art of equestrian sport and is used as the groundwork for all the other disciplines.” In modern day dressage competition, the horse and rider perform a test for a number of judges (up to five) to reflect the horse’s way of going and level of schooling. Competitions are ridden in a flat arena usually measuring 60m x 20m and surrounded by a low barrier behind which 12 lettered markers are placed from where specified movements start and end. Each movement is awarded a mark out of 10, & some more difficult movements have a coefficient X 2, the scores are totaled and shown as a percentage.


Eventing, also known as Horse Trials, evolved from the Military, where cavalry horses were expected to be relaxed and obedient on parade, responsive to their riders in battle, and fit enough to travel at speed across all types or terrain, able to judge any obstacle in its path and to be fit enough to repeat the whole performance again the following day.

From this the sport of Eventing developed, encompassing three different disciplines – Dressage, Cross Country and Showjumping, each with its own objective to test the overall ability of the horse and rider combination.


Showing as an equestrian discipline strives to exhibit the most nearly perfect example of a particular type or breed of horse. Exhibitors must be skilled in the training and presentation of the horse as an athlete. When showing a horse, the rider has to perfect that art of riding the horse to show it off to its best advantage. The horse’s confirmation, its movement, ability and manners, are all taken into consideration in the show ring.

There are generally five classes offered in Showing:

  • The Show Hack should have excellent confirmation, be of a particular type with style and elegance. It should be beautifully trained, responsive and well mannered.
  • The Show Hunter is more powerfully built with lots of bone. It should have a workmanlike feel, a good gallop and be fit enough to have the stamina to last a hard day’s hunting.
  • The Show Riding Horse does not require the elegance of the hack or the substance of the Hunter but should be a lovely easy ride with solid confirmation.
  • The Working Hunter is required to jump a course of fences, have a good gallop and have the stamina to last a hard day’s hunting.
  • The Working Riding Horse should be obedient enough to perform various tasks with a good attitude and temperament.
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