I was told very recently that in German they have a saying: “Vielseitigkeit ist der Königsdisziplin.”
Which means, pretty much, that “Eventing is the King of Disciplines.”
We all know that you need a horse and a rider who are calm, patient, and rigorous enough to master the dressage, brave, sharp and reactive enough to shine on the cross-country, and still careful and accurate enough to SJ clear.
We take this for granted, since we see so many horses who shine in all three disciplines, but these attributes do not always necessarily go hand in hand. We’ve all known awesome XC horses who couldn’t really be bothered with the coloured poles, or did not particularly enjoy the dressage.
Excelling in all three phases is not easy. There are gifted XC riders who do not find that the dressage comes naturally to them, for example. Someone brave enough to love XC is not necessarily patient enough to enjoy hours and hours of dressage! And yet even those who master all 3 disciplines are looked down on by those who specialise in other disciplines, especially the show-jumpers!
I have thought for a long time that Eventing is a seriously stupid name for the sport. It means nothing to the layman – an ‘Event’ can be pretty much anything.
If we changed the name to “Equine Triathlon” it would be instantly obvious that it’s about versatility, and that the same horse has to do all three phases. I have had non-followers of the sport be incredulous at this fact, and ask why we don’t just use three different horses?
Okay, I’ll pick Valegro for the dressage, Cool Mountain for XC, and Big Star for the Show-jumping. All bay and therefore interchangeable. Hmm, maybe they have a point…
In Germany they see Eventing as the highest form of equestrianism, and their title for it, “Vielseitigkeit”, is much more informative than our useless word “Eventing”. Theirs means “versatility” or, literally, “many-sided-ness”: it tells everyone straight away that this sport is about being capable of doing lots of different things.
What do you think? Would you change Eventing’s name, for the sake of better understanding, and perhaps more publicity, bigger gates at big competitions, more money coming into the sport?