Friday, May. 24, 2024

New Eventing Championships Meant To Add Excitement, Remove Barriers



This fall’s Morven Park International (Virginia) will kick off a new kind of eventing championship for the U.S. Equestrian Federation. Instead of competing head-to-head for a national title at one designated three-day, U.S. eventers will participate via a leaderboard where they can accumulate scores throughout the year at Fédération Equestre International competitions anywhere in the country.

The U.S. Equestrian Eventing National Championships League will award a national championship and ribbons to 10th place at the one-, two-, three- and four-star levels for professionals, amateurs and under-25 athletes at the 2025 Morven Park International. The leaderboard will be determined by combining an athlete’s three lowest cumulative scores throughout the participation period, with one long-format competition required for the CCI2* levels and above. While Morven 2025 will be the last chance to accumulate scores for the league, attendance at the event is not mandatory to win a championship. 

Previously, the USEF national championships were held during major fall three-day events such as the Galway Downs International (California) and Fair Hill International (Maryland). 

Beginning next year, USEF will award national championships at the CCI1* through CCI4* levels not at a single competition, like the CCI3* national championship held last year during the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill (shown), but based on a rider’s three best scores at their level, earned at FEI competitions anywhere in the country. Kimberly Loushin Photo

“They were just layered into existing long-format competitions,” said Amber Braun, USEF managing director of eventing. “It wasn’t necessarily a target because there weren’t any qualifying criteria. There wasn’t a lot of recognition for those athletes.”

Due to geographic distance and athlete focus on creating individual schedules for their FEI goals, winning the USEF national championships tended to be happenstance rather than a target for most riders. 

“When people go to a national championship and don’t even know they’re in it, you have to question, did it really achieve what it’s supposed to?” said Jon Holling, a five-star rider and president of the USEF Eventing Sport Committee. “This is about trying to find a way to get people to actually want to do it. … You want it to be something that is well-supported by competitors. The biggest goal here is to give the membership something they’re going to enjoy and appreciate and think is valuable.”


In the past, USEF national champions were only named at the two-star level and above, and Braun said adding the one-star leaderboard was an important component of the championship revamp.

“It’s a really good entry level, and it has a lot of numbers of our membership in there in terms of quantity,” she said. “We wanted to give them the opportunity to participate too.”

“When people go to a national championship and don’t even know they’re in it, you have to question, did it really achieve what it’s supposed to? … The biggest goal here is to give the membership something they’re going to enjoy and appreciate and think is valuable.”

Jon Holling, USEF Eventing Sport Committee president

As the National Championships League tallies FEI scores, and the U.S. Eventing Association already offers championships at every national level through the American Eventing Championships, the USEF will no longer offer a separate advanced championship. The USEA/USEF Developing Horse National Championship and the USEF Eventing Young Rider Championship will remain separate standalone championships. 

No USEF Eventing National Champions will be named for the CCI2*-CCI4* levels in 2024. Athletes can begin accumulating league scores the weekend of Oct. 10-13, 2024, at Morven Park, and the league season will culminate at Morven in the fall of 2025. 

“Every U.S. FEI eventing competition that hosts one-star through four-star is an opportunity for athletes to get participating scores,” Braun said. “Whether it’s an East Coast venue or West Coast, every time they compete, they are looking to get a personal best as one of their three scores.”


While eventers are not required to finish their season at Morven Park, Braun said one USEF goal is to create a championship environment where all the league championships can come together at one competition. “Until we have buy-in from the athletes, and it really becomes a target, we understand that we don’t want to build barriers that have been from our previous championships with the requirement to be in attendance at the final to win,” Braun said. “The goal was essentially not to have the athletes need to adapt anything specific in their competition plans to participate in this.”

Braun said the new format should also make the championship more attractive to sponsors. 

“We haven’t been able to offer prize money or a significant incentive for people to come,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to provide a little bit of prize money and great prizes with this kind of qualifying criteria and the leaderboards, being able to follow along, and people will really make it a target in their season.” 

The national five-star championship will remain a standalone competition at the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event. 

“You know as a competitor you’ve done something special when you beat the best head-to-head,” Holling said. “So often when you’re talking about championships, you compare yourself to England because that’s the obvious one, but [the United States is] a completely different geographic situation. We have to think outside of the box and do what makes sense for us. [The National Championships League] could be the golden ticket. It’s just completely different. I think trying something new is a great idea. I think it’s cool. I think it’s a neat idea. We’ll have to see how it goes.”




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