USEF Announces Sweeping Modifications To Safety Cup Rules

Mar 28, 2022 - 5:41 PM

Effective immediately, all hunter, jumper and equitation classes will need to adhere to new safety jump cup requirements announced March 28 by the U.S. Equestrian Federation. Only Fédération Equestre Internationale-approved safety cups can be used on the back rails of all spread obstacles.

“In continuance with the Federation’s mission to provide access to and increase participation in equestrian sports at all levels by ensuring fairness, safety, and enjoyment, a Presidential Modification has been granted to the safety cup requirements in Hunter, Jumper, Equitation, and Arabian chapters of the USEF rulebook,” wrote USEF President Tom O’Mara in a press release.

This modification means that the hunter and equitation disciplines will have to use cups much shallower than those previously required for the back rails of oxers. The earlier rule stipulated that hunter classes use cups with a depth of at least 1.5″. However, FEI-approved breakaway cups are only 20 mm deep (roughly .75″). In the hunter section, the USEF rule now reads that, “The top element of all obstacles except the back rails of oxers must be securely placed with cups at least 1 1/2 inches deep and 3 inches wide so that a slight rub will not cause a knockdown and must be equally secure for different heights in the same class.”

A similar proposal was discussed at last year’s U.S. Hunter Jumper Association Annual Meeting, but that organization disapproved the proposal, stating it was impossible to be in compliance since no FEI-tested safety cup existed with the desired hunter dimensions of 1.5″ deep and 3″ wide.

“The intent of this rule change is to ensure the safety of riders and horses by ensuring the breakaway safety cups utilized in Hunter and Equitation classes have been properly tested for effectiveness,” stated the USEF Safety Committee in the original proposal. “The FEI tests and approves the entire safety cup (breakaway and cup piece) together rather than just the mechanism by itself. The approval certificate from the FEI is issued for the full cup system that is tested. Following this system, there is no such thing as an ‘FEI approved safety mechanism.’ At this point, the breakaway mechanisms combined with a 1.5″ deep cup is untested by the FEI and so the safety of this combination cannot be verified.”

The full presidential modification can be read here.


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