Dec 12, 2021

Proposed Rule Changes Brought Forward at USEA Annual Meeting & Convention

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
USEA/ Leslie Mintz photo.

An open forum discussing rule changes which went into effect December 1, 2021 and proposed rule changes for 2022 took place at the 2021 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention on Saturday, December 11 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was one of the most heavily attended open forums of the convention, and nine proposed rule changes and clarifications which have not yet been approved or presented to the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) were brought forward to the attendees for the first time. Moderators Malcolm Hook and Jonathan Elliot outlined all of these proposals and listened to feedback from forum attendees throughout the session and encouraged USEA members to continue to send in their feedback via the rules feedback portal which will go live this Wednesday, December 15 on the USEA Online Services website..

The first of the proposed rule changes was in regard to EV106 Entries - Withdrawals. The intent of the rule change was to provide organizers with a specific rule that officially prohibits the sale of entries, which impedes scheduling and disrupts the numerical order of an established waitlist. The official change to the rule reads as follows in section 2 of EV106:

f. Accepted entries are specific to the rider and horse named on the entry form and may not be transferred or assigned to another party except as specified in EV106.9.

The following change in terminology under section 8 of EV106 would also be made:

WITHDRAWALS. Notification of withdrawal must be given directly to the Event Secretary. If the horse is withdrawn prior to 9 p.m. on the closing date for entries, the entry and stabling fees will be refunded, less an office fee, if applicable. Not to exceed $25.00. If the horse is withdrawn after the closing date and time, the entry and stabling fees may be refunded at the option of the Organizing Committee. If the horse is withdrawn after the closing date, and if the Organizer has replaced the withdrawn horse with one from the waiting list, and but before the start of competition, the scheduled slot for that entry will be assigned by the Organizing Committee. If the Organizer has replaced the withdrawn horse with one from the waiting list, the entry fee less an office charge will be refunded. If stabling for the withdrawn horse is occupied by another horse, the stabling fee will be refunded. The refund policy must be clearly stated in the prize list for the competition.

It was proposed that EV116 Radios and Cellular Phones also receive some clarification to allow for the use of devices like a Cee Coach in a USEA dressage warm-up to keep from coaches having to yell across the warm-up and help to keep the warm-up area calmer. The clarification would be made as follows:

The use of a radio or cellular phone while competing is forbidden, under penalty of disqualification. Use of radio or cellular phone in dressage warmup is permitted. Any other use while on the competition grounds by competitors, trainers, or members of the competitor’s support group, is subject to restriction by the technical delegate and the president of the ground jury. The competition must provide adequate functional radios for communication for Officials during a Competition.

A small clarification to EV136 was met with little feedback due to the simplicity of its purpose: to clarify an incorrect statement in an example within the dressage scoring subchapter. The proposed amendment reads:

1.c. All of the following are considered errors, and two points will be deducted per error, but they are not cumulative and will not result in Elimination.

1. Entering the space around the arena with a whip (when whips are forbidden) or with boots or bandages on the horse’s legs or with a discrepancy in dress (e.g. lack of gloves for the Intermediate and Advanced levels).

The amendment to EV141 Cross-Country Scoring was proposed to distinguish the results of a willful delay penalty from an elimination and refusal penalty on cross-country. Currently the rule reads that a Willful Delay at the Beginner Novice through Modified level will result in a penalty of 20 points, however the new proposal aims to reduce that penalty to 19 points to make it a more distinguishable penalty when reviewing a horse’s competition record.

There was quite a bit of conversation surrounding the proposed change to EV169 National Horse Trials. The idea would be to add additional assistance to competition officials, allowing them to maintain safety protocols and supervision when multiple phases are being run concurrently with a large number of horses competing. The driving factor behind this amendment was the thought that with current regulations a technical delegate (TD) is spread too thin to handle multiple phases safely and satisfactorily under such conditions, particularly supervision of the show jumping warm-up and ingate.

As a suggested fix for the current regulation, it was suggested to add language to the Technical Delegate column within rule EV169 or placing an asterisk next to technical delegate that would read:

At any competition with 300 or more entered competitors, on any day where the cross-country and show jumping phases will be running concurrently, a second technical delegate of any level is required.

Concerns arose regarding the requirement of a second technical delegate and the availability of the number of TDs to be added to a show. Elliot did remind that in this scenario a second TD would only be required to be on-hand for that day(s) where multiple jumping phases were running concurrently and not through the entirety of the show.

GR1026.7 might be receiving a bit of a face-lift in the hopes of allowing a new license level for Eventing Jumping Course Designers (EVJCDs) to encourage more participation and providing more EVJCDs in the pipeline for promotion. It has been noted that currently, there are too few course designers to mandate licensed designers below the Advanced level. The addition of the seventh point to GR1026 would read:

7. Eventing recorded show jumping course designers will be eligible to design show jumping courses at the Intermediate level and below, at the National level only.

Continuing on with the theme of course designers in show jumping, a proposal to EV169 Rules for Officials was made to require licensed jumping course designers at the Intermediate level. The proposed requirement reads: Intermediate: Minimum Federation “r” EVJCD; or Federation “r” JCD; or FEI jumping course designer.

There were several amendments proposed in regard to Appendix 3- Participation in Horse Trials (MER Definitions). The first proposal was to align the MER definition with the FEI and it was noted that any future changes by the FEI would also be taken into consideration.

The proposal to renovate section 2 under Appendix 3 would result in the following changes:

2.2 Minimum Eligibility Requirement 2.2.1 When achieved at a National Horse Trials an MER is achieved by completing the entire Horse Trial and scoring. -not more than 45 50 penalty points in the Dressage Test; and - No jumping penalties at obstacles on the Cross Country Test unless specified otherwise, and not more than 75 90 seconds (30 36 penalty points) exceeding the optimum time; and - not more than 16 penalties at obstacles in the Jumping Test. 25 penalty points received for Dangerous Riding will not achieve a National Qualifying result. Exceptions to the qualifications noted below may only be approved by the Credentials Committee.

The second rule change is intended to improve safety and mitigate horse and rider falls in competition by requiring additional experience before moving to the next level of difficulty. One sentence was added to the bottom of the current paragraph regarding MERs to read:

A competitor and/or a horse may be entered in a Horse Trial without having fulfilled the qualifications noted below, provided the qualifications have been fulfilled at least 10 days before the Cross-Country Test of the competition for which it is needed if the MER has been achieved at a Horse Trial or CCI-S or at least 24 days if the MER has been achieved at a CCI-L. For Preliminary, Modified, and Training Classic Three-Day Events, qualifying competitions must be completed within a 24-month period of the start of the competition. All MERs must be obtained within a 4-year period and one MER within 8 weeks of the competition.

The eight week period was the big hitter of the day with several attendees speaking up in regard to potentially lengthening that time period to 12 or 16 weeks due to event availability in certain areas. Elliot advised all attendees to utilize the rules feedback portal to share their concerns and proposals for adapting this rule further before it is sent for review by the USEF.

Discussions surrounding MERs continued with the following changes to Preliminary, Intermediate, and Advanced levels:

​​3. LEVELS OF HORSE TRIALS AND EVENTS

3.5 PRELIMINARY (P) - Open to competitors from the beginning of the calendar year of their 14th birthday, on horses five years of age or older. The competitor must have obtained an MER at six four Horse Trials at the Training Level or higher. The horse must have obtained an MER at four Horse Trials at the Training Level or higher: One of the four MERs must be as a combination. Competitors with more than 10 MERs at the Preliminary Level or higher are exempt from one MER in combination.

3.9 INTERMEDIATE (I) - Open to competitors from the beginning of the calendar year of their 16th birthday, on horses six years of age or older. Both The competitor must have obtained an MER at six Horse Trials at the Preliminary Level or higher. and the horse, though not necessarily as a combination, must have obtained an MER at three Horse Trials at the Preliminary Level or higher, plus an additional MER at the Preliminary Level or higher with no more than 20 Jumping Penalties at obstacles on the Cross Country test. . The horse must have obtained an MER at four Horse Trials at the Preliminary Level or higher: One of the four MERs must be as a combination. Competitors with more than 10 MERs at the Intermediate Level or higher are exempt from one MER in combination.

3.10 ADVANCED (A) 3.10.1 UNCATEGORIZED RIDERS - Open to competitors from the beginning of the calendar year of their 18th birthday, on horses six years of age or older. Both The competitor must have obtained an MER at six Horse Trials at the Intermediate Level or higher. competitor and the horse, though not necessarily as a combination, must have obtained a minimum of one MER with no more than 20 Jumping Penalties at obstacles on the Cross Country test, at either a CCI3* or Intermediate Level plus three MERs at the Intermediate Level or higher. The horse must have obtained an MER at four Horse Trials at the Intermediate Level or higher: One of the four MERs must be as a combination. Competitors with more than 10 MERs at the Advanced Level or higher are exempt from one MER in combination.

3.10.2 CATEGORIZED RIDERS - Open to competitors from the beginning of the calendar year of their 18th birthday, on horses six years of age or older. Both the competitor and the horse, though not necessarily as a combination, must have obtained a minimum of one MER with no more than 20 Jumping Penalties at obstacles on the Cross Country test, at either a CCI3* or Intermediate Level plus two MERs at the Intermediate Level or higher.

Elliott shared the following data to support the proposal to require six MERs prior to moving up a level:

“Fall rates are reduced by at least half when riders have six or more MERs prior to moving up a level. At Preliminary, horse falls go from 1:240 starts (<6 MERs) to 1:556 starts (≥ 6 MERs). Intermediate shows the greatest difference at 1:70 vs 1:251, and Advanced at 1:44 vs 1:88. It is notable that most riders currently follow this practice: 85% of riders moving to Preliminary, 96% of riders moving to Intermediate, and 97% of riders moving to Advanced have at least six MERs prior to moving up.

In addition to the six MERs prior to moving up a level, all riders will be required to have one in combination prior to moving to the next level. Rider experience is the most important factor – having already achieved 10 MERs at a level you have meaningful experience at that level – and therefore there is an exception to the one-in-combination requirement, provided the other qualifications of horse and rider are met.”

The USEA welcomes your feedback on these rule change proposals and encourages our members to utilize the rules feedback portal to submit your ideas and concerns. The Rules feedback portal will be accessible to all members this Wednesday, December 15 on the USEA Online Services website.

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About the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention

The USEA Annual Meeting & Convention takes place each December and brings together a large group of dedicated USEA members and supporters to discuss, learn, and enjoy being surrounded by other eventing enthusiasts. The USEA organizes multiple seminars in addition to committee meetings, open forums, and tons of fun! The 2021 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention is taking place at the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque Hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico, December 9-12, 2021. Click here to learn more about the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention.

The USEA would like to thank the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention Sponsors: Adequan, Bates Saddles, Gallops Saddlery, Mountain Horse USA, Nunn Finer, Nutrena, Parker Equine Insurance, RevitaVet, Rebecca Farm, SmartPak Equine, Standlee Premium Western Forage, D.G. Stackhouse & Ellis Saddles, Sunsprite Warmbloods, World Equestrian Brands, Area X, and Saratoga Horseworks.

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