Rules for Eventing

These are only excerpts from the USEA rules. Please read the complete rule book before competing. Remember that competitions not recognized by USEA may not follow all the USEA rules.

  • Combined Training events are open to professional and amateur riders on stallions, mares and geldings, subject to certain limitations. Riders entered in USEA registered events at the Beginner Novice Level and up must be USEA members. This requirement may be waived at the Beginner Novice Level at the discretion of the organizer, in which case non-member fees must be paid by the competitor. Exhibitors entered in USEA registered events at the Preliminary Level and above must also be current members of the USEF, or pay a non-member fee. The age of a rider in USEA events is determined by the year of birth.
  • Horses may not be entered at more than one level of competition at a Horse Trial.
  • Divisions: Events below Beginner Novice Level are not registered by the USEA. Organizers may divide a level of competition in these ways:
    • Junior – through the end of the year of the rider’s 18th birthday
    • Young Rider – through the end of the year of the rider’s 21st birthday
    • Senior – from the beginning of the year of the rider’s 19th birthday
    • Horse – riders of any level on horses that have not competed above the level, e.g., a Novice Horse may not have competed at Training Level or above, a Training Horse may not have competed at the Preliminary Level or above, etc.
    • Rider – level is limited to competitors who have not completed more than two Horse Trials at the next highest level or higher in the previous 24 months, e.g. Training Rider – the competitor may not have completed more than two Horse Trials at the Preliminary Level or higher in the previous 24 months.
    • Open – no restrictions on either horse or rider.
  • Notes on Starting: The order of start will be fixed by draw; any competitor who does not present himself in time for the start of any of the tests is eliminated.
  • Protective Vests: A body protecting vest must be worn warming-up for and in the cross-country test. Stable, team or club colors are permitted. The Federation recommends that the vest should pass or surpass the current ASTM standard F1937 or be certified by the Safety Equipment Institute. Inflatable vests are permitted only when worn over a body protecting vest.
  • Protective Headgear: All riders at USEA events and schooling Horse Trials listed in this book must wear ASTM/SEI approved helmets when mounted on the competition grounds. Wearing proper protective headgear is compulsory for anyone riding a horse at all times, on the flat and/or when jumping. This protective headgear must be a properly fitting helmet which passes or surpasses ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials)/SEI (Safety Equipment Institute) standards for equestrian use and carries the SEI tag. Harness must be secured and properly fitted.
  • Whips: One whip no longer than 120 cm (47.2 in) including lash may be carried when riding on the flat at any time. One whip no longer than 120 cm (47.2 in) may be carried during the Dressage Test except in USEF/USEA Championships and USEA Championship. If a whip is carried in the Cross-Country and/or Jumping Test, or while jumping any obstacle before these tests, it must not be weighted at the end or exceed 75cm (30″) in length.
  • Dress:
    • Dressage Test – Horse Trials (Beginner Novice through Preliminary) — Protective headgear see above #6; Coat — dark color or tweed, tail coats are not permitted; Shirt — white or light color, with stock and pin, or choker, or tie; Gloves (if worn) — dark color, tan, beige or white; Jodhpurs, Britches — light color or white; Boots — black, brown, field, jodhpur or a black or brown full grain smooth leather leg. In the competitions in this booklet normal blunt spurs less than 1 3/8″ long are optional.
    • Cross Country Test – Protective headgear must meet or exceed ASTM standards and are required for riders when mounted. A body-protecting vest and a shirt with sleeves (any color) must be worn. The USEF strongly encourages all competitors to wear body-protecting vests passing or surpassing the current BETA standards level 2. An approved and completed Medical Card, enclosed in a transparent waterproof carrier, must be securely attached on the upper arm outside of the competitor’s clothing. Riders without the card will not be allowed in the warm-up area or on course. Spurs are optional; only normal blunt spurs less than 1 3/8″ long are permitted. Light-weight clothing is appropriate. Breeches and boots, or jodhpurs and jodhpur boots are required. Blue jeans are forbidden, under penalty of elimination.
    • Jumping Test: Hunting dress or uniform. All riders must wear an ASTM/SEI approved helmet, with chin harness properly fastened, designed expressly for equestrian use. Hat covers other than solid black or dark blue are not allowed. Coat — dark color or tweed (if Novice through prelim.); Shirt — stock with pin, choker or tie; Gloves (if worn) — dark color, tan, beige or white; Jodhpurs, Britches — light color or white; Boots — black, brown, field, jodhpur or a black or brown full grain smooth leather leg piece and matching leather boots. Chaps or half-chaps are not allowed.
  • Saddlery:
    • Dressage Test – Compulsory are an English saddle and a plain snaffle, jointed or unjointed, made of metal, leather, rubber or synthetic material (or of metal covered with leather or rubber or synthetic). Drop nosebands (a combination of caveson and drop noseband) and crossed (figure eight) nosebands are allowed, but they must be made entirely of leather. A breast plate may be used. Martingales, any kind of gadget (such as bearing, side, running or balancing reins, etc.), any kind of boots or bandages, and any form of blinkers are strictly forbidden, under penalty of elimination.
    • Cross-Country Test – Saddlery is optional, except that any form of blinkers or hoods is forbidden. Only running, unrestricted martingales are allowed. Any rein must only be attached to the bit(s) or directly to the bridle. Gags and hackamores are allowed.
    • Stadium Jumping Test – As for cross-country test.
  • General Notes for Competitors:
    • Dressage Dos and Don’ts
      • Don’t enter the ring until the judge signals.
      • Don’t use your voice.
      • Don’t leave the ring until your test is finished.
    • Cross County Dos and Don’ts
      • Don’t start without the signal from the starter.
      • Do keep the red flag on your right and white flag on your left.
      • Do jump between the flags for that obstacle.
      • Don’t ask for assistance while on course.
      • Do correctly negotiate an obstacle before moving to the next.
      • Do complete the course within the posted optimum time.
      • Do let a competitor pass if you are having difficulty.
      • Do remember to pass through the finish flags.
    • Stadium Dos and Don’ts
      • Don’t start without the signal from the judge.
      • Don’t leave the arena until you have finished the course.
      • Do jump between the flags in numerical order.
      • Do remember to pass through the start and finish flags.
  • Entries: The entry form must be signed by the exhibitor or his/her agent and trainer. All entry fees and stabling fees must accompany the completed entry forms and be mailed directly to the appropriate event Secretary and received by the closing date.  Use the current USEA entry form (see the Forms Page) for USEA recognized events.
  • Organizer’s Rights: Organizers have the right to cancel any competition, phase, or division, divide any class, alter the published schedule, or refuse any entry.
  • Liability: A participant and spectator are deemed to assume the inherent risks of equine animal activities created by equine animals, weather conditions, conditions of trails, riding rings, training tracks, equestrians, and all other inherent conditions. Each participant is assumed to know the range of his ability and it shall be the duty of each participant to conduct himself within the limits of such ability to maintain control of his equine animal and to refrain from acting in a manner which may cause or contribute to the injury of himself or others, loss or damage to person or property, or death which results from participation in an equine animal activity. Furthermore: Neither the Organizing Committee, the landowners, nor the Eastern States Dressage and Combined Training Association accept any liability for any accident, injury, or illness to horses, riders, owners, attendants, spectators, or any person or property whatsoever.