Modern Eventing

In honor of the 2016 Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event (RK3DE) -- held April 28th through May 1st at the stunning Kentucky Horse Park -- we are reviewing Phillip Dutton's book Modern Eventing.

Side note: A huge congratulations to defending RK3DE champion Michael Jung of Germany and his mount  Fischerrocana FST. But also, and especially, congrats to Phillip Dutton himself who finished all three of his rides going 4th on Mighty nice, 5th on Fernhill Cubalawn, and 13th on Fernhill Fugitive. For the final results of all horses and riders check here, previous years results also available.

Phillip Dutton is an Australian born equestrian having represented Australia in three Olympics and four world championships. He came to the United States in 1991 to train and in 2006 gained his US citizenship and changed his competitive nationality to team USA. Since 2007 he has ridden for the US Equestrian Team (USET) at world championships and the Olympics. Needless to say he is a phenomenal athlete and talented equestrian; as a competitor, rider and trainer.

The simple, no-nonsense wisdom he imparts in his book, Modern Eventing, is well worth your time to read regardless of the discipline you ride in. Phillip covers not only the sport of eventing in all three phases from training to competition, but also all the other things it takes to ensure great horsemanship and care of your equine athlete (different equipment choices, nutrition, shoeing, grooming, etc.). It is not possible to learn too much! 

Modern Eventing is broken down into four sections and sub-chapters:

  • Part 1: Introduction to Modern Eventing
    • The Successful Event Rider
    • Selecting Your Event Horse
    • Tack and Equipment for the Horse
    • Apparel and Equipment for the Rider
    • Horse and Rider Fitness 
  • Part 2: Schooling and Training
    • Basic Dressage: Teaching Your Horse Correctly 
    • Riding Cross-Country Jumping
    • Show Jumping Training
  • Part 3: Competing
    • Mental Preparation for Rider and Horse
    • Warming Up and Riding Your Dressage Test
    • Walking the Cross-Country Course
    • Warming Up and Riding Cross-Country
    • Walking and Riding the Show Jumping Course 
  • Part 4: Care and Maintenance 
    • Grooming
    • Commonsense Nutrition
    • Hoof Care and Shoeing
    • Horse Health and Veterinary Care

The first part walks you through the history of and changes in the sport of eventing; from old military training days and classic/long format to the new "short" format used now in the majority of competition and especially at the international level. It also lays out what you can expect from the sport and what you should expect to put into the sport in order to excel and be a good athlete and competitor. It is not an easy sport, nor is eventing for the faint of heart! 

You have to be strong and independent enough so you can ride without an instructor watching all the time, "holding your hand," and doing everything for you. Eventing is a sport where you are out there on your own, especially on the cross-country phase. Your instructor can help you gain skills and improve your riding but you have to develop your mind and confidence so that when you're on course you can do it on your own. (Page 8)

We especially enjoyed the second part which was all about how to school and train: what a good warm-up looks like, breaking down the half-halt and even specific exercises to try for suppleness, straightness and correct lateral work. All of this information feeds nicely into the third part of the book which is all about competition. 

The most important aspect of horsemanship can be considered the actual care of a horse, and the final part of the book covers that in awesome detail! And nearly all the information is from world renowned groomer, Emma Ford, who is the current barn manager and head groom for Phillip Dutton. She recently released her own book, World Class Grooming, which is on our list to review! 

Two great places to learn more about this tough sport are the US Equestrian Federation (USEF) and US Eventing Association (USEA) web sites. For the latest news and information we recommend checking out Eventing Nation. Three day eventing is probably the most demanding of any equestrian discipline, and the USEF defines it as:

Somewhat comparable to a human triathlon, the discipline of eventing was historically developed to test the skills required of the working military mount — athleticism, agility, bravery, speed and endurance.

Do you and your horse have what it takes to be an eventer? Find out with this book!

Live. Love. Horses.