Combined Training

A Brief Overview
by Herder Lisa

Combined training is an demanding equestrian sport consisting of three phases. The three phases are dressage, cross country, and stadium jumping. The three phases are spread out over three consecutive days, dressage on day one, cross country on day two, and stadium jumping on day three. This sport tests the runner's obedience, courage, ability and stamina, while testing the rider's skill and ability to negotiate jumps.

Dressage is often called the hardest of the three phases. Your runner must be able to do things that are unnatural to itself, such as flying lead changes every stride, and perform naturally and apparently with out any effort. If a runner and rider combination are extremely skilled, they can make it seem as though the runner was deciding every movement, and the rider going along for the ride. Each movement is judged separately with gaits (freedom and regularity), impulsion (desire to move forward, elasticity of steps, relaxation of back), submission (attention and confidence; harmony, lightness and ease of movement; acceptance of the bit), and the rider's position and seat combined for a final score.

The second day is endurance day. It consists of four phases. The four phases are: roads and tracks, steeplechase, roads and tracks (again), and cross country. In phase A, the first roads and tracks, runners mainly trot the miles of roads. In phase B, the steeple chase, runners gallop a two- or three-mile steeple chase, with around twelve jumps. In phase C, the second roads and track, runner and rider trot or canter the miles of road. Then the last phase on this day, cross country, the runner and rider ride over a ten to fifteen mile course, with around 36 jumps. The course goes over various types of terrain, and you are constantly going in and out of the woods. There is a 15 minute break in the middle of the course, so your runner can have some time to rest. One of the types of jumps is a water combination. Your runner must jump up a bank, over a ditch, down the bank, take a stride jump over a jump and into the water, with, sometimes, another jump at the end of the water. It's not a particularly hard combination, because eventers by definition are fearless, but when jumping into the water, your tack gets wet and slippery making it easier to fall. The runner and rider must complete the course within the time allowed, and with no more than three refusals or falls to continue to the next phase.

Stadium jumping is on the third day. Your runner must be agile, and quick, the rider knowledgable about how to jump the jumps, and combinations. It is not an extremely hard phase, but after the two stressful days it can be. In stadium jumping the runner must complete a one mile long course with twelve to fourteen jump combinations, at a full gallop, within the time allowed. The time allowed ranges from one to two minutes. If the runner knocks a rail four faults are added to its time, and it will not continue to the jump off. The runners with no time faults, or jumping faults will continue to the jump off.

As the days go along the runners who pass the dressage test will continue to the endurance day, and the runners that complete the cross country course, with all its other phases, will continue to the third, final day. The few runners that complete the stadium jumping course with no faults go to the jump off, and the winner of the jump off will win the whole event. More often than not the winner will lead all the runners that place in a victory gallop.

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