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This study examined how horse age and gender, rider gender and individual event affected the performance of horses competing at six selected pre-novice events. Dressage accounted for 63% of penalties accumulated whilst 27.9% of penalties were from the cross-country phase and 9.1% from the show jumping phase. The data highlighted differences in the distribution of penalties between events. Male riders scored 4.5 penalties (P < 0.001) less than female riders for cross-country jumping. Mares and geldings showed a very small variation (0.8 penalties) in final mean score for competition; however, stallions' mean score was 12.2 points (P < 0.01) lower than mares' and 11.4 points (P < 0.001) lower than geldings'. Seven-year-olds scored the fewest mean final penalty points when compared with all other age groups (P < 0.001). The strongest correlations were between dressage penalty score and final placing at event, r = 0.911 (P < 0.01), whilst the weakest was observed between cross-country penalties and final penalty score, r = 0.091 (P < 0.01). It can be concluded that environmental factors exert a significant influence upon scoring at the pre-novice eventing level, both within phases of competition and over the whole competition.