Pony Club Victoria



Horse Trials Information

Horse Trials consist of three phases dressage, cross country, and showjumping. The good points awarded by the Dressage Judge are converted to penalty points. Any further penalty points accrued in the jumping phases are added to the dressage penalty. The person with the lowest number of penalties is the winner.All three phases must be completed.


A Dressage Test is a series of movements perfomed inside a marked arena. It is designed to test the level of training of the horse and rider. This is progressive throughout the grades. Booklets with dressage tests for each grade are available through the PC Shop or you can print one from our website (Click Here) ! The booklets include explanations of what is expected at each level and the rules of dressage tests. Instructors can also be a big help in explaining how to ride a test, especially as tests must be ridden from memory. A dressage test can be a competition in its own right or as a part of a Combined Training or Horse Trials competition.

Cross Country

This phase is a series of fixed, numbered and flagged obstacles. Red and white flags mark the boundaries of the obstacle and must be jumped with the red flag on the riders right. The cross country course can usually be inspected (walked) the day before the competition, after 2pm. A map showing the position and number of jumps can be obtained from the event secretary's office. Make sure you have the correct one for your grade and that you know what colour your jump numbers are. The cross-country course can also be walked on the day of the competition but you must be careful to stay out of the way of riders on the course. On the day of the competition, be sure to check the 'Master Plan' for any changes to the course and extra things like compulsory flags. There are many things that give penalty points - the most common being refusals, falling off and being over the time limit allowed. The most common reasons for elimination are 3 refusals at the same jump, missing a jump or missing compulsory flags.


This phase is a series of non-fixed jumps in a roped arena. It is jumped only once. When walking the course riders must be in full PC uniform, including helmet and whip if used. Penalty points are allocated for errors including knocking down part of a jump, refusing or going past your next jump or exceeding the time limit. Reasons for elimination include three refusals in the whole course and jumping obstacles in the wrong order. A booklet covering all the Horse Trials Rules and penalties can be obtained from the PC Shop or print a copy from our website (Click Here) !

Horse Trials are hard work for the horse and riders must make sure that their horse is fit enough for the task or accidents and even permanent physical damage can occur. Regular exercise should start a minimum of six weeks before the event and it should be gradually built up to increase the horse's stamina. Include some trot and canter work, up and down hills. Remember that the horse is the athlete and you are relying on him for your safety and fun.  


Q: How does the three refusal rule work in showjumping and cross country?

A: The 'three refusals = elimination' rule is different in the showjumping and cross-country phases. In showjumping you are eliminated for three refusals over the whole course. For example, if your horse refused once at a jumps 2, 7 and 8, you would be eliminated. In cross-country you must have three refusals at the same jump before you are eliminated. If your horse refused once at jumps 2, 7 and 8, you would not be eliminated. However, after four refusals over the entire course you will be eliminated.

Q: What is error of course not rectified?

A: If you go the wrong way, that’s an error of course. An example is if you turn left after a jump, if you should have turned right and you go down the wrong track. If you realise that you went the wrong way and you turn around to correct the mistake and go the right way, you have rectified (fixed) your mistake. You will not be eliminated. But you must jump all the jumps in the correct order. So if you do not correct your mistake and you continue on and jump the next jump after having made a mistake, then you have made an 'error of course not rectified' and you will be eliminated. Note that jump judges and spectators are not allowed to tell you that you may have gone the wrong way. This is called 'forbidden assistance'. It is up to you to remember the course.

Q: What are the rules about walking the course?

A: Courses must be inspected on foot. You must wear your helmet and carry your whip (if you intend to use one when you ride that phase). This refers to showjumping only - for cross country there are no restrictions on the clothes you have to wear. You must walk around each obstacle you must not jump over any obstacle. You must not touch or interfere with any obstacle.

Q: What happens at the veterinary inspection?

A: At the end of your cross-country course you must ride directly to the Vet Check area. You must stay mounted until you are asked to dismount by the veterinary inspector or steward. Your horse will be examined for signs of distress or fatigue. You will be instructed on how to cool down your horse and you must follow those instructions and remain at the vet check area until you are told to go. It is your responsibility to ensure that your horse is fit for such a competition, and if after 30 minutes, your horse has still not recovered, you can be eliminated from the competition. You can also be eliminated if you do not follow the veterinary inspector’s instructions.

A complete list of rules and requirements can be found in PCAV’s Horse Trials Rules.

The above Q&A have been provided by Mooroolbark PC