BRUSSELS, BELGIUM—A panel of experts from around the globe gathered together last week to review criteria for international-level eventing, specifically focusing on cross country day. After a week-long review of facets ranging from fence type and dimensions to course design, length, and terrain, the panel unanimously agreed that eventing sport is, in fact, “too easy.”
“When compared against other disciplines at the five-star level, we find that the current requirements for eventing, and specifically cross country, fail to meet with our difficulty standards. We are sad to report that the entertainment value and promotional aspects do not measure up when we consider the full landscape equestrian sports,” said Jacques Du Mois, a media representative for the Organisation Mondiale de Équitation (OME).”
“In Grand Prix dressage, for example, we have the difficulty and athleticism required by moves such as the piaffe and passage; in show jumping, there’s the height and artistic style of the fences, and the technicality of the courses. What do we find in cross country? Lower jumps, overall, and lots of running, running, running in straight lines and splashing around in puddles.
“Where is the drama?” Du Mois continued. “Where is the intensity? The courage on display by either horse or rider? One of our primary goals at the OME is to expand the commercial and sponsorship appeal of equestrian sports, and when we examine cross country, we just don’t find that it is meeting the mark.”
When pressed about the unique stamina and versatility challenges inherent to eventing, criteria that set it apart from other OME disciplines (including showjumping and dressage, which are, in fact, part of the sport), Du Mois remained resolute. “Bof!” he said.
“You want to see versatile? Even these U.S. hunters include a flat class and a handy round in the real divisions. Of course, our tribunal considered these aspects. I give you the case of Oliver Townend—OME’s World #1 now for the last two years,” Du Mois continued. “This past week was his third consecutive win at Land Rover Kentucky—his troisième! What does that tell you?
“Olivier even had a year off because of the pandemic, and yet, there he is, again the victor on one of the world’s ‘toughest’ CCI5* courses. Not to mention, he also finishes in the top-10 with another horse!
“This is eventing for you,” Du Mois concluded, disdainfully. “Honestly, how hard can it be?”