Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023

What You Need To Know To Compete In 2020



Sunday was  Dec. 1, which begins the start of a new show season. The point counts have reset to zero, and a new set of rule changes is in effect. You can visit the U.S. Equestrian Federation website for a full list of changes, but we’ve highlighted a few you won’t want to ignore.

Dressage Details:

  • In 2018, an extraordinary rule change that required a score of 63% to qualify for freestyles was met with a lot of pushback from membership. In response, a new extraordinary rule change passed in July. The new rule still requires a minimum score of 63% for training through fourth level, but it lowers the minimum score to 60% for FEI levels.
  • A rule change clarifies that judges may not give riders an error because of a dress code violation.
  • Cooling caps (hoods) are prohibited in competition and warm-up arenas.
  • If a horse-and-rider pair leaves the arena anywhere other than A at the end of the test (unless the rider loses control while on a long rein) they will be eliminated.
  • Level 1-3 dressage competitions may now offer two dressage seat equitation classes per day as part of the opportunity classes.

Eventing Extras


  • A horse may now be ridden at a competition by someone other than its entered rider before 3 p.m. on the day prior to when the horse begins competing, making life easier for working amateurs or juniors whose horses may arrive at the event before they do.
  • Language was struck from the rulebook regarding the minimum diameter of snaffles in the dressage phase.
  • Leather neck or pommel straps are now permitted in dressage.

All Around The Horse Show

  • A series of rule changes governing tack in hunters, jumpers and equitation was approved. Cable or metal tie-downs are prohibited, and curb chains on a leverage bit are limited to items “constructed of loose links, joints, and/or lie smooth against the jaw of the horse and be free of twists, sharp objects or anything inhumane.”
  • The unsafe use of electronic devices, as determined by the steward, is prohibited in schooling rings and while longeing.
  • Premier-rated and jumper level 5 competitions must now have at least one paramedic as part of the required qualified medical personnel.

Jumper Jive

  • If classes of different heights are combined, the entry fee and prize money will follow the class that had higher prize money.
  • Draw reins and German martingales are no longer allowed in age-restricted jumper classes.
  • Riders competing in CSI3* grand prix classes may not cross-enter into the highest money class, in the lowest height section of junior, amateur-owner or amateur jumper classes offered at the same competition.

Hunter Happenings And Equitation Evolutions

  • EQ 104 Horse Welfare was added to the equitation section outlining 19 acts that are prohibited in the name of horse welfare such as riding an exhausted horse, riding or longeing an obviously lame horse, or striking a horse on the head. If a competitor is found in violation of these rules, they will be disqualified and prohibited from competing for the next 24 hours. Additional penalties may be given including elimination from the remainder of the competition, and the violation will be listed in the steward’s report. The USEF may also levy additional sanctions.
  • After much discussion at last year’s U.S. Hunter Jumper Association annual meeting regarding hunt coat color, the rule now reads as follows, “Conventional attire following the tradition of fox hunting is encouraged and preferred. It is further recommended that the rider’s attire does not distract from the performance of the horse and rider. Judges shall not eliminate a rider for inappropriate attire except for safety.”
  • Rule changes standardized measuring processes for horses and ponies.
  • A new rule allows for half points to be awarded in hunter classes if only two entries complete the classes.



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