It claims to be the ‘Greatest Equestrian Show on Earth’ and it is coming in September to North Carolina, USA and I am going to give you the low down on everything you need to know.  Just wait, you will able to impress your horsey spouse/ friend with all of this information and you might even enjoy watching it with them. Or if all else fails it might give some answers in a pub quiz one day? You are going to be the best partner/friend/ parent ever!

So, The World Equestrian Games (WEG) happens every four years half way between the cycles of the summer Olympic Games. The first one was in 1990. The disciplines that make up the games are Dressage, Para dressage, Driving, Endurance, Eventing, Showjumping, Reining and Vaulting. Here are basics that you need to know…


An Olympic discipline that sees horse and rider perform a range of intricate movements. They memorise a dressage test and are judged by a panel of up to seven judges.

Scoring – The higher percentage score the better.

One to watch– Charlotte Dujardin, Great Britain. Known in the British press as the girl on the dancing horse. If you have not seen this girl ride you need to! Her horse Mount St John Freestyle only began her career this year but is so far unbeaten with scores of 80% and over!

Fun fact: Charlotte wears the same set of clothes every time she competes.

Para Dressage

Photo credit – Stinna Tange Kaastrups Facebook page. 

Para dressage has the same basic rules as dressage but it’s riders are divided into categories according to their functional abilities. For example some tests include walk, trot and canter elements, while others are just judged at a walk.

One to watch – Stinna Tange Kaastrup from Denmark. Double bronze winner at Rio in 2016 on Horsbo Smarties.

Fun fact – Stinna likes to spray herself and her horse with gold glitter hairspray!


This involves carriages being pulled by 4 horses (aka 4 in hand) tackling 3 phases of competition over 3 days- dressage, marathon & obstacles/cones. 3 human competitors navigate the 4 horses around each section. Each team is marked on turnout & how well the horses & humans match too, so be prepared for some fancy looking matching outfits on both humans & horses!

Scoring– Lowest overall penalty score wins.

One to watch – Chester Weber, USA. The most celebrated combined driving champ in the world.

Fun fact: Chester rescued his most famous carriage horse Jamaica (who is now retired) from a slaughter house.


A long distance competition against the clock. An ultra marathon on horseback if you will! Courses range from 80-160km.

Scoring – First one to cross the finish line wins (whilst stopping periodically for vet checks).

One to watch – Maria Alvarez Ponton, Spain.

Fun fact- Maria was the first person to hold the titles of world and European champion at the same time. Maria and her husband Jaume Punti-Dachs were also the first married couple to stand on the same podium at the European championships in 2007. Now that’s couple goals!


Photo credit- 

This is where a single horse and rider combination compete in dressage, cross country and showjumping.

Scoring – For dressage in eventing it differs from pure dressage, so the lower the dressage score in eventing the better. The jumping elements are scored by penalties being added for refusals and time penalties are also given if the course is not completed within the optimum time. In a ideal world you will finish with a low dressage score and gain no further penalties in the jumping sections – hey we can all dream right?!

Ones to watch– Team New Zealand. The Kiwis have a fierce squad this year including veterans Blyth Tait and Mark Todd and this years Badminton winner Jonelle Price and her husband Tim who just won Burghley. They are quite the power couple!

Fun Fact– Blyth Tait and Mark Todd were in the first WEG squad back in 1990 when they won gold. Both have retired from eventing after having successful careers but both have returned to the sport. They just can’t seem to get enough!


My personal favourite. This is where a horse and rider jump a course of fences in an arena.

Scoring – The aim is for a clear round if the horse does knock down or refuse a fence penalties are added. If the horse and rider jump clear they qualify for the jump off, which is when they have to jump a shorter version of the course against the clock and the fastest clear round wins. It’s exciting stuff trust me!

One to watch- Harrie Smolders, Netherlands. Cool name and talented guy who is currently ranked the world no 1.

Fun fact – Harrie had to choose between becoming a professional show jumper or a pro football player. He chose showjumping as he didn’t believe his football coach when he said he could make lots of money playing football!


Now I had to look this up myself! Reining is the only western discipline in the WEG. It is a judged event that shows the athletic abilities of a ranch horse. This involves the horse and rider following a variety of approved patterns in canter that include riding small, slow circles, fast large circles, roll back on hocks, 360 degree spins and sliding stops to name a few.

Scoring – Each part of the pattern is scored on precision, smoothness and finesse with the degree of difficulty being taken into account too. In general a score of over 70 reflects that the competitors movements were above average, under 70 under average. It is judged by 5 judges with the top and bottom score being dropped to give an average final score.

One to watch- Gennaro Lendi, Italy who is a previous world champion.

Fun facts– Gennaro’s moto is ‘born to ride’ and comes from a non equestrian family.


Basically gymnastics on horseback!

Scoring – In individual competitions one vaulter performs on one horse. However in the freestyle team competition up to 3 vaulters can perform at the same time on one horse. All vaulting tests are scored out of ten and judging is based on technique, form, difficulty, balance, security and consideration of the horse.

One to watch- Kristina Boe, Germany.

Fun fact- Kristina won a previous World Cup with a Star Wars themed routine.

So now you know the basics of the WEG. I purposely picked some riders to watch that I have never heard of so you can really impress your horsey spouse/ friend! I hope this guide helps you understand these not so familiar sports and hey perhaps you will find something you enjoy watching?

The World Equestrian Games start on September 11th 2018. You can watch it online on the following websites – www. FEI TV online and Horse and Country TV online or visit for more information.

All photo credits are from unless otherwise stated.

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