Lexington , Kentucky is the heartbeat of America’s horse country.Â Each year in April, elite riders from around the world gather at the Kentucky Horse Park to test themselves and their horses against the course at the Rolex Three-Day Event.
Three Day Eventing began as a complete test of the mounted warrior and his horse. Eventing consists of three phases. The first phase, dressage, mimics battle drills and regimental parades.Â Horse and rider must navigate a pre-memorized pattern of intricate movements.Â They are judged on balance, obedience and accuracy.Â For the veteran event horse, a thoroughly fit athlete amped up for the wild run which comes next, dressage is also a test of patience.
The second phase, cross-country, is a long, fast gallop over varied terrain and solid fences, as if a soldier were bearing a critical message to a distant ally.Â Horse and rider accrue penalties and can be eliminated from competition for going off course, refusing a jump, exceeding the optimum time, or falling.
The final phase is show jumping in an arena over fences that knock down at the lightest brush of a hoof. This tests the fitness, suppleness and continued obedience of a horse who has already completed the grueling cross-country test.
Only the most athletic, courageous and well-trained horses successfully complete a three-day event.Â Through their skills, such horses pay homage to great war steeds throughout history.
Below, Great Britain’sÂ Lucy Wiegersma and Woodfalls Inigo Jones cleanly navigate the Duck Pond. Enjoy our extensive gallery of video clips from the 2009 Lexington Kentucky Rolex Three Day Event at Laughing Gypsy Photography.