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Eventing Penalties Explained

Updated: Jun 14, 2021

The winning score in eventing is the competitor with the lowest number of penalties over the three phases; Dressage, Showjumping, Cross Country. The dressage mark is converted into a penalty score. Subsequent jumping phases then add to the dressage score to give a final result. To be in with the best chance of a competitive placing the rider is aiming to finish on their dressage score (FOD)

  • Each movement in a dressage test is scored out of 10

  • The judge can use either whole or half marks for scoring

  • Some movements, such as free walk on a long rein, can be 10 x 2 (double marks)

  • The collective marks of the dressage test are for the overall picture and presentation of the test, each worth 10. Paces, Implusion, Submission and Rider

  • BE80 to Novice test are scored out of 200

Once the judge has given the marks, the total is turned into a percentage

The percentage is then taken away from 100 to give the final penalty score

A test marked at 130 will be converted to 65% resulting in 35 penalty score

Loosing Marks in a Dressage Test

As well as maximising your training to get the best marks in a test, be careful not to make any of these errors which which will cause further penalties

No callers. Tests must be performed from memory

No whips 6 you will be asked to drop the whip

No boots or bandages 6 you will be asked to remove them

Do not enter the arena before the bell 2

Entering arena 45secs after the bell 2 90secs before elimination

Not wearing gloves 2

  • The showjumping course is made up to 8-12 numbered fences

  • Combinations count as one fence

  • The aim is to complete the course within the time allowed without knocking any fences down or having a disobedience (stop or run out)

  • There are no marks for style, although the rider may be spoken to or eliminated if the ground jury deem there to be dangerous riding


Knockdown 4

First disobedience 4

Second disobedience 8

Every sec over time allowed 1

How to get Eliminated

Third disobedience

Fall of rider

Fall of horse

Resistance exceeding 20 secs

Failing got jump next fence within 45secs

Exceeding time limit (twice time allowed)

Error of course

Omission of fence or boundary flag

Re-taking an obstacle already jumped

Jump fence in wrong direction

After being stopped, continuing before the bell

Attempting alternative obstacle whilst disturbed obstacle is being rebuilt

Jumping obstacle not on course

Knocking the timing equipment

Re-attempting a disturbed obstacle before the bell

Not wearing appropriate hat

Failing to cross finish line mounted

Improperly leaving the arena

Receiving unauthorised assistance

Ignoring bell to stop during round

Failure to start 45secs after the bell

If you are eliminated from refusal or run out you are permitted to make up to two attempts to jump a single obstacle in the correct direction before leaving the ring

If you accumulate more than 24 penalties in the showjumping you will have compulsory retirement from XC


Congratulations you've made it to the most thrilling phase of eventing!

  • The XC course will be made up of 18-25 obstacles (BE80-100)

  • Combinations count as one obstacle

  • The aim is to complete the course within the time allowed without any disobedience

  • There are no marks for style, however you may be stopped if your riding is deemed dangerous. You may also be watched closely if you had a sketchy showjumping round

Time starts when the nose crosses the start line until the nose crosses the finish line

If there is a hold on course, the time of the hold will be deducted from the total time

You must ride through all flags with white on the left and red on the right

You can circle between separately numbered obstacles without penalty provided you have not presented to jump

Combinations must be jumped in order without crossing tracks or going behind an obstacle already jumped

You cannot enter the start box in canter or exit in canter before your time, but you can walk and trot in and out of the start box and up to the first fence without presenting to jump it


First refusal, run out or circle 20

Second refusal, run out or circle 40

Every second over optimum time 0.4

Every second in excess of 15 sec under optimum time 0.4

How to get Eliminated

Third cumulative refusal

Third refusal at same obstacle

Fall of rider

Fall of horse

Error of course not rectified

More than two min of disobedience

Omission of obstacle or flag

Retaking obstacle already jumped

Jump in wrong order

Jumping crossed flags

Exceeding time limit


Once you have completed all three phases the scores from each phase will be totalled to give your finishing score;

DR 35

SJ 0,0

XC 0,1.2

This reads as a score of 35 dressage, clear showjumping, clear cross country jumping with 3 secs over time allowed.

If the time score is circled it means the penalties came from being too fast

The winner is the rider with the lowest score

If two riders finish on the same score, the leading rider will be the one closest to the cross country optimum time

Happy Eventing!

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