Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023

USEF Approves Additional COVID-19 Related Rule Modifications for 2020



The U.S. Equestrian Federation board of directors has approved additional modifications to USEF rules in order to address issues related to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. A summary of the most recent modifications is listed below, and the full content of each modification has been added to the comprehensive listing of modifications. The full listing of rule modifications related to COVID-19 impacts can be viewed by clicking here. Additional rule modifications continue to be reviewed and will be published when approved.

Latest Modifications to USEF Rules

The modifications listed below are effective immediately and remain in effect for the remainder of the 2020 competition year.

Equipment Inspections – AR246.20.c, DR121.7, DR121.10, DR126.4, DR206.8, RN103.3 and RN103.17
Arabian, dressage, and reining

Arabian – All AHA Reining Seat Medal class equipment inspections must be performed visually. Dressage – All saddlery and equipment checks will be performed visually and at random. The Technical Delegate may follow the competitor to a designated area for inspection, if necessary. (See below for more detail) Reining – All equipment checks/inspections must be performed visually.

MERs and Cross-Country Test of Horse Course Certification – EV105.1 & Appendix 3, and EV175.2.b.

Extends the validity of Minimum Eligibility Requirements (MERs) already earned from 12 months to 18 months to allow U.S. athlete/horse combinations to compete as planned for in early summer 2020. Those who do not achieve a MER during the remainder of the 2020 competition year will be required to move down one height level in 2021 before resuming competition at the next highest height level. Extends the period of time for site and course inspections for cross-country test of horse trials from 12 months to 18 months prior to the competition.

Food and Beverage – GR1216, DR126.3, HJ105.1 and HJ107
All breeds/disciplines; additional specifics for dressage, hunter, jumper & h/j licensed competitions

Waives the requirement to make food available and changes it to an option. Details the minimum requirements for providing water for participants.

Judges’ Use of Cell Phones – GR1033.3
All breeds/disciplines

Issues a clarification to the existing rule to better accommodate the use of cell phone or other electronic device technology to relay scores and other information in an effort to minimize the physical exchange of paper.


Jogging, Conformation and Model – HU118.3, HU121, HU130.d, HU136.7, and HU123.6
hunter and h/j-Licensed CompetitionsJogging – The traditional manner of jogging for soundness in hunter classes is waived, and horses will now jog for soundness under saddle by trotting a circle on a loose rein at the end of each over fences performance. Pony hunter and 3-year-old hunter model and conformation classes – The requirement for model and conformation classes has been waived in the “A”-rated regular and green pony hunter sections, as well as the 3-year-old hunter section. If model or conformation classes are held, handlers must comply with social distancing guidelines. Green and high performance conformation hunter – Handlers in model classes and conformation classes in the green and high performance conformation hunter sections must comply with social distancing guidelines.

Modifications Specific to Dressage Equipment Inspections – DR121.7, DR121.10, DR126.4, DR206.8

All equipment inspections conducted after rides will be visual and completed at random (removed requirement for 1/3 of horses in a class). Additionally, TDs may follow the horse to a designated area for the inspection in order to provide for a safe and socially-distanced inspection. Gloves are not required as the inspections will be visual. The above applies to Dressage Sport Horse Breeding classes as well.

Judge Placement – DR122.13 & DR126.1g

Judges will not be required to sit together for classes that previously required this (e.g., young horse classes), and placement must allow for social distancing.

Scores & Scoresheets – DR123.2, .3, .10, .11 and .12

Rules have been modified so that scores may be sent electronically (e.g. via email or text) to competitors and/or posted via the internet. Scoresheets must still be provided to the competitor or his representative but these may be provided electronically after the class is concluded. Privacy must still be maintained.

Additionally, if a scoresheet is only made available after the competition day by electronic methods, competition management must allow for mathematical errors to be reported for 24 hours from the time of distribution. Scores will be corrected but class placements will not change.

Time Schedule & Ride Times – DR126.1b.3 and DR126.1b.4

The time schedule must be posted in electronic format and/or in an area where social distancing can be adhered to by noon the day before the competition (the posting/distribution method must be included in the prize list). Ride times may not be changed after noon the day before the start of the entire competition, except in compliance with GR830.5.

Flexibility with ride schedules must be allowed. Classes will not be required to run in their entirety and rides may be scheduled out of sequence. Consideration must still be given to riders entered in more than one class or riding more than one horse. Additionally, at least 50 minutes must still be scheduled between start times for a rider’s tests on different horses unless he/she has agreed, in writing, to a shorter interval between tests. Time intervals should be allowed between rides for judge’s breaks and awards presentations.


Musical Freestyles – DR129.6a and 6b

The competitor must provide the music in formats/methods specified within the prize list to the announcer at least two (2) hours prior to the start of the class. Please note that CDs are no longer required if the competition management wishes to use a different format. Riders are not permitted to have a representative in the sound system booth.

Awards Ceremonies – DR123.12

Placed horse and rider combinations cannot be required to participate in awards ceremonies. Awards ceremonies should be conducted to allow for social distancing. Rosettes will not be required to be placed on bridles.

DR 126 Requirements for Dressage Competition Management and Levels Chart: Food & Beverages Spectator Services

Food/beverages services are optional for Level 1-3 competitions with the exception that bottled water must be available for Level 2 & 3 competitions (see levels chart) and recommended for Level 1 competitions. Additionally, spectator services are not required (per USEF Action Plan). Click here to see modifications made to the chart (found on pages 22 to 23).

Designated Judge/Rider Forms – DR125.8

The Designated Judge/Rider Evaluation forms will be suspended. USEF will contact competitors at random directly following a competition and request that the competitor complete the USEF Evaluation form via their My USEF Account.

Eligibility and Verification of Entries – DR127.2 & GR1035.2c

Technical delegates are not required to check entries to verify competitor eligibility. Competitors are still required to be eligible and follow all rules for their Championship and/or Championship qualifying purposes. Per DR127.2, Competition secretaries of Federation dressage competitions are responsible to the Federation to ensure that horses in qualifying and championship classes are recorded in compliance with GR1102 and riders and owners are current members of the Federation and meet other requirements as set forth in the description of the Championship Classes, including that USDF membership and horse registration requirements are current.





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