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Rolex 101 (Last post from NJ!)

April 21, 2009

The Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event is the highest level of the sport of three-day eventing. International horses and riders at the Olympic level compete at this four-star event. There are only four events of this caliber in the world.

Phase One of eventing is dressage, a test of strength, balance, and discipline for horses and riders.


Phase Two is cross country, which highlights the heart, speed, and endurance of the teams.

William Coleman and Kiki du Manoir

Phase Three is stadium jumping, which requires precision, accuracy, and rateability.

Jersey Fresh CCI*** 5/15/2005 Amazing Odyssey and Phillip Dutton

The official Rolex website explains it well:

DRESSAGE on the first day of the competition tests the gaits, suppleness and obedience of the horse through a series of prescribed movements. While judging the Dressage Test on the first day is based on specific criteria understood in detail only by experienced judges and riders, it is basically an evaluation of beauty of movement and obedience. Anyone can judge these characteristics and the spectator’s opinion often agrees with the judges. The number of competitors may require that Dressage be held over two days but it remains the first competition day.

The CROSS-COUNTRY test on the second competition day proves the speed, stamina, courage, boldness and jumping ability of the horse and the rider’s knowledge of pace and use of the horse across country. Horses jumping over obstacles designed and constructed to represent what might be found on uncharted grounds , virtually flying over ditches, leaping up and down banks, dropping into and galloping through water prove examples of athletic prowess, and trust between man and animal, that can be seen in no other sporting event. While the rider walks the course beforehand, the horse doesn’t see any of the course until it leaves the start box.

JUMPING in an arena on the third day of competition provides the final test of the horse’s athletic ability, conditioning and training. The Jumping Test in a stadium arena on the third day is again simply a matter of jumping the obstacles cleanly. Its significance is that it comes the day following the test of cross-country jumping at speed and clearly illustrates the horse’s willingness to listen to its rider. It must now move at a more sedate pace and not touch the obstacles, which are not solid and will fall down. A single rail knocked down can make the difference between winning and finishing far down in the placings.

Stuart Black and Fleeceworks Mystere du Val

The best way to learn more about the sport of eventing is to see it for yourself. Check the Chronicle of the Horse‘s Sporting Calendar for local competitions. And subscribe to the Chronicle of the Horse or another eventing publication like Eventing USA for the most current news and commentary.

Quarter Marks

An added bonus of attending Rolex in person is the famously fabulous shopping :^)

The official Rolex website is an excellent resource for this year’s competition. Click here for the schedule, click here for the entries, and click here for the timetable.

I’m leaving for Kentucky Wednesday morning and I’ll post about Rolex and the Kentucky Derby as time permits. And you can watch live on-demand coverage as it unfolds!

Tiffany Foster and Robin Hood

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Sandra Rolfs permalink
    April 24, 2009 3:43 pm

    What is the black tape in the Chestnut horses nose?
    I have seen it before in the grand prix?
    Does it mean something?

  2. April 24, 2009 6:48 pm

    Thanks for the question, Sandra. It’s a Flair strip. They aid in horses’ breathing, like the Breathe Right strips athletes use.

  3. April 25, 2009 1:43 pm

    Mike Winters horse KingPin died on Rolex course in 2009. Last weekend a lovely young girl fell at the RAm Tap competition in Califonia and is in the hospital. USEA and others raised money when Darren was hurt or Laine… but the association has not even acknowleded the first major injurty of the season. They posted about Kingpen within 10 min of his injury. Hummm….

  4. paul sowerby permalink
    July 31, 2010 4:14 pm

    trying to contact stuart black long time friend and rider any contact info would help

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