Supreme Discipline of Equestrian Sport

The Concours Complete combines dressage, jumping, and cross-country riding. A varied challenge for riders and their horses.

When squad rider Patrick Rüegg talks about his horse discipline, he gets enthusiastic: “It’s this deep relationship between man and horse that fascinates me so much about eventing.” You get to know all facets of your four-legged partner through comprehensive training in the three sub-tests of dressage, cross-country riding, and jumping. And top performance on the cross course requires almost blind mutual trust. 

The cross-country course, several kilometers long, on which ditches, tree trunks, jumps up and down or hedges have to be overcome at a rapid gallop, forms the heart of an eventing competition. A lot of courage and perseverance are essential here. Seeing the bush riders darting over the mighty obstacles can take your breath away. Unbelievable energy can be felt and the concentration, as well as the fun, is written all over the faces of the rider-horse pairs, for example when crossing a water obstacle.

“Of course, serious and varied training is essential to achieve such a performance,” says Rüegg, who trains his horses himself in Altwis LU. The training plan must be just as varied as the discipline. Dressage and jumping units are supplemented by cross-country rides. Here long canter distances, the trot up a hill, and interval training on a wide variety of ground conditions are on the program. 

Fitness paired with strong nerves

Rüegg emphasizes that it is important to always pay attention to the correct dosage. Because the health of the horse has a top priority. Good training of the horse, but also the rider alone, is not enough. Both partners must also have certain psychological prerequisites. The so-called interior of the horse, i.e. the character, plays an important role. “The willingness to perform must be there,” points out Patrick Rüegg. 

In addition to good physical fitness, the rider must also have strong nerves, a good dose of self-confidence, and a high degree of empathy. A realistic assessment and not overestimation of one’s ability and the ability of the animal partner is important to avoid accidents.

Correct equipment is important

Barbara Spejchalová, who is a trained club, youth and sports trainer, and cross-country skier, also attaches great importance to safety. The correct equipment for riders and horse has top priority in their off-road training. The rider must be equipped with back protection and a well-fitting helmet. The horse should wear four closed gaiters for leg protection and a neck ring or front harness so that the rider can hold on when jumping. This provides security and prevents the horse from tearing in its mouth. In the Concours Complete, it is often couples who have little experience gaining their first experience in this discipline with the amateur eventing rider. 

Everyone is welcome, from the mini Shetland pony, who is hopping over a small tree trunk for the first time on its young owner’s lead, to the western rider who would like to work with his Quarter Horse on mastering the jumps up and down at a relaxed trot. “It should be fun and offer a change,” says Spejchalová, who finds it important to combine a love of horses with equestrian sport. Just like the ambitious sports rider Patrick Rüegg, she finds the strong connection between animals and humans particularly beautiful at the Concours Complete.

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