As U.S. event riders begin to think about their 2013 competition calendars, a minor uproar has broken out over the new Fédération Equestre Internationale qualifications, which will go into effect Jan. 1.
In response to the confusion, the FEI released a Frequently Asked Questions document to further explain the new rules and qualifications.
For most riders, the qualifications for international horse trials and three-days won’t change very much. The one significant difference is that you have to qualify as a horse-and-rider pair. The FEI Eventing Rules, 520.2, include a chart for qualifications at every level.
However, the FEI also introduced categorized riders for 2013. Athlete categories were created to help show proven competence and experience of athletes at different levels, and while a rider doesn’t have to be categorized to compete at the FEI levels, they must still achieve minimum eligibility requirements.
The categories range from A down to D. To be a Category A rider, you must have received qualifying results at 20 CCI***/****s in a rolling eight-year period. At least five of those must be four-star results, and riders like Great Britain’s Tina Cook and Germany’s Michael Jung, who currently holds the Olympic, European and World Champion titles, would only be Category B.
“The concept of licensed riders has been out there for at least five years,” said Robert Kellerhouse, the U.S. representative to the FEI Eventing Committee. “The riders at the top were consistently asking for an easier path to get their horses ready. They didn’t need as much experience as the rest of us. The categorized riding thing was born from that. It’s not perfect. It’s a first stab.”
As 2013 doesn’t have a major world championship, the FEI deemed it a good year to implement the new qualification system so that there would be time to work the bugs out.
The FEI has made a few concessions to help riders in the United States get categorized in 2013. For one year, the number of qualifying results required will go down from 20 to 15 in the past eight years. They will also allow some national horse trials to count as CICs in 2013, so riders will have more opportunities to get qualifying results. That list of national horse trials was still in the works at press time. Finally, the list of categorized riders will be updated mid-year in order to add newly qualified riders.
Another major change is that all CIC and CCI qualifying scores will not expire, except for championships, where the qualification procedure is unchanged.
To read the FEI’s FAQ, view this document.
To see the FEI’s 2013 rules for eventing, view this document.