When the Beginner Novice level was introduced nearly 15 years ago, it was created as an introduction to the sport of eventing. The United States Eventing Association (USEA) allowed riders and horses to compete at the level in order to “test” out the sport without becoming a member of the USEA. USEA membership was mandatory for participation in any Beginner Novice championship competition and to be eligible for year-end awards. This lead to some confusion on the part of the membership. Additionally, in recent years there have been more opportunities available to be introduced to the sport such as Intro and Starter Levels, Coaching Allowed Test (CAT) and DX Eventing. At its August 2016 meeting the USEA Board of Governors voted to standardize the Beginner Novice level membership requirements with the rest of the levels.
In the past several years the USEA office has been inundated with calls of confused members who did not understand why they weren’t listed as qualified for; Area Championships, the Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championship (AEC), and the USEA Leaderboards. In almost every case the confusion related to that member having competed at the Beginner Novice as a non-member. In 2015 approximately 390 people competed at the Beginner Novice level without holding a USEA membership, while an additional 3,864 members competed at the level as members.
The Beginner Novice level is now one of the most popular levels offered by the USEA in recognized competition and the offerings of the Beginner Novice level mimic all those offered in other USEA divisions. In order to clear up any confusion moving forward the USEA Board of Governors has voted that all riders and horses must be members of the USEA in order to compete at the Beginner Novice level starting on December 1, 2016.
Besides gaining eligibility for the American Eventing Championships and Area Championships, USEA membership includes access to Adult Rider and Junior/Young Rider educational programs, a subscription to Eventing USA, the ability to compete in other USEA Programs such as the USEA Classic Series, access to awards and grants including the Worth the Trust scholarships and the Blue Ribbon Award Program, and much more.
Beginner Novice horses can be registered with a Limited registration, which allows the horse to compete at Beginner Novice through Training for the duration of its lifetime, and riders will need a Junior, Collegiate or Full membership which is renewed annually. For 2017 a 14-day grace period from the start of the horse trial will be allowed for Beginner Novice riders and horses to bring their registration into compliance.
If you aren’t interested in becoming a member of the USEA, then the intro/starter levels offered by many horse trials and the new DX Eventing and CAT competitions are great options for trying out the sport. These “Eventing Tests” are quickly becoming the most popular way to introduce new people to the sport. Any facility can apply to host eventing tests for a minimal fee of $100 for one day or $150 for multi day competitions. That application fee includes full insurance coverage for that event as well as a listing on the USEA official calendar. For an additional fee competitions holding these tests can also be listed in the USEA Omnibus.