No spectators but the Kentucky Three-Day Event will go on
Written by Kathy Witt
It is the ultimate test of horse and rider, an equestrian triathlon consisting of three distinct elements – dressage, cross-county and show jumping – and one of the few sports where men and women compete alongside one another, even at the Olympic level. At its apex? The 5-star designation, the most advanced form of the competition.
There are only seven 5-star events in the world. Two are in the United States. One is the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, which will take place at the Kentucky Horse Park, April 22-25, with First Horse Inspection taking place on April 21. Although there will be no in-person spectators this year due to COVID, the show will go on, with the event live-streamed on the USEF Network (United States Equestrian Federation) and then broadcast on NBC on Sunday, May 2, following the Kentucky Derby.
Eventing competitions were held originally to test the fitness, suitability and training level of cavalry mounts. It became an Olympic sport in 1912 at the Stockholm Games, at the time open only to amateur riders who were in the military. The winner is determined by the horse-and-rider combination with the fewest combined penalties from the three phases.
There are two governing bodies for the Three-Day Event: The Fédération Equestre Internationale (International Equestrian Federation – FEI), the world’s governing body of equestrian sports, and the USEF, which serves as the national governing body for equestrian sports. EEI (Equestrian Events, Inc.), a 501c3 nonprofit, produces the world-class Kentucky Three-Day Event, with support from countless sponsors and partners, including the title sponsor, Land Rover, and the presenting sponsor, MARS Equestrian.
The Kentucky Three-Day Event by the Numbers
- 2 – the number of competition levels: CCI5*-L and CCI4*-S.
- 44* – the number of competitors at the CCI4*-S level. They will be riding 52 different horses.
- 45 – the number of obstacles riders jump during the cross-country test, which covers almost four miles of varying terrain.
- 54* – the number of competitors at the CCI5*-L level. They will be riding 75 different horses.
- 76 – the number of sponsors.
- 155,000 – the amount of the grand prize (less than usual prize due to COVID).
- 1976 – The year the first horse trials were held at the Kentucky Horse Park.
- 1978 – When the World Three-Day Event Championships were held for the very first time in the United States.
- 2020 – The first time in 42 years the Kentucky Three-Day Event was cancelled. The cause? The COVID-19 global pandemic.
*Note: The final number of competitors may change as some may elect not to compete.
Author: Kathryn Witt
Kathryn Witt is an award-winning travel and lifestyle writer, syndicated columnist and author of several books, including Secret Cincinnati, The Secret of the Belles and Atlanta Georgia: A Photographic Portrait. A member of SATW, Authors Guild and the Society of Children’s Books & Illustrators, she lives in northern Kentucky.