May 05, 2023

Rule Refresher: New Rules Approved by the USEF Go Into Effect May 1, 2023

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
USEA/Lindsay Berreth photo

The U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) Board of Directors met in mid-April and approved proposed extraordinary rule changes which apply to the sport of eventing. These rule changes went into effect on May 1, 2023, and the official USEF Rules for Eventing has also been updated. In order to best help competitors prepare for these new updates, we have provided outlines below, specifically to the most highly-discussed rule change proposal surrounding falls on cross-country outlined in rule EV122.

EV122 Cross-Country Phase Definitions of Faults

To eliminate and/or mitigate the risk of competitor injury during the cross-country phase. Implementation of the following penalty for all riders across all levels at recognized/endorsed competitions brings U.S. Eventing regulations in line with the FEI and is being recommended by the Cross-Country Safety Committee.

1. GENERAL. Faults (i.e., refusals, run-outs, and circles) must be penalized, unless in the opinion of the appointed personnel, they are clearly not connected with the negotiation or attempted negotiation of a numbered Obstacle or element. The negotiation or attempted negotiation of an Obstacle commences with the presentation of the Horse to the Obstacle. Falls will be penalized whenever they occur on course between the start flags and the finish line.

On May 5, USEF released a clarification to EV122.

Note: Falls are penalized in accordance with Penalty Chart of EV123. As such, a fall at Beginner Novice or Novice, will incur a 65-point penalty for the first fall where the Athlete lands on their feet. It is penalized as Elimination for the second fall.

For Training level and above, falls are penalized as Eliminations whether or not in relation to an Obstacle.

There is a rule change proposal to align Beginner Novice and Novice with Elimination for the first fall. This is still under review, and is to be voted on at the USEF Mid-Year Board Meeting. If approved, it will go into effect on December 1, 2023.

In addition, the following rule changes/language changes which are applicable to the sport of eventing were approved and will also go into effect on May 1, 2023.

GR202 – Intent: To clarify that it is not the responsibility of the competition to forward Show Pass forms to the Federation.

For Eventing Competitions at the Modified level or above:

GR202 Membership Requirements
1. To be eligible to participate as a rider, driver, handler, vaulter, longeur, owner, lessee, agent, coach, or trainer at Federation Licensed Competitions, persons must be Members of the Federation as provided in Bylaw 212. No organization, other than the Federation and its Recognized Breed and Discipline Affiliates, may require mandatory membership or a non-member fee as a condition of participation in a Federation Licensed Competition. (See GR1210.12 for further information regarding the collection of mandatory participation fees at Federation Licensed competitions). Effective 2/1/23

2. All Competing Members of the Federation must designate a primary breed/discipline affiliation upon joining or must do so annually upon renewing. A member will be deemed to continue their primary designation unless prior to the record date (November 30 of each year) such Life Member notifies the Federation in writing of change. This shall be considered the member’s affiliation for the purpose of allocating Voting Director seats as provided in Bylaw 211.

3. Lessees are considered owners in connection with this membership requirement. If a horse(s) is owned by multiple individuals, only one owner need be a Member or pay a Show Pass fee.

4. If a horse(s) is owned by a farm or any other entity, at least one of the horse’s owners, either Farm/Business or individual, must also obtain an exhibitor registration pursuant to GR1106.

5. Non-member riders, drivers, handlers, vaulters, longeurs, owners, lessees, and agentsmust pay a Show Pass fee.

6. Payment of Show Pass fees for purposes of competing does not entitle the individual to any other privileges of Federation membership.

7. To be eligible to compete at Federation Licensed Competitions, coaches, trainers, and legal guardians signing as coaches or trainers on behalf of their minors must be Senior Active Members in good standing, as defined herein. BOD 9/26/22 Effective 12/1/22

EV110.2: Intent: To remove the duplicate language in EV110.2.e as this exact language is already in the opening paragraph of Appendix 3. Once moved to Appendix 3, the proposal is to consolidate the language and remove "Preliminary, Modified, and Training" as those are the only levels of Classic Three-Day Events and it is not necessary to list them out.

EV110.2.e. Entries must be received by the end of the day on the closing date

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 Classic Three-Day Events, qualifying competitions must be completed within a 24-month period of the start of the competition.

At the CCI* level and above, at least one MER must be obtained in the twelve month period prior to the competition. e.g. a horse and/or rider who have achieved a MER at a CCI4* level of competition and who have not competed for over twelve months must first achieve a MER at the next lowest height level.

EV123.1: Intent: To remove the Modified level from the list of levels which this penalty may be applied to. Speed penalties are only assessed at the Beginner Novice, Novice, and Training levels. Therefore, Willful Delay would not be applicable to the Modified level.

19 penalties – Willful Delay between the last fence and the finish line (BN, N, T)

EV126.6: Intent: To clarify the language to make it clear that a refusal during interrupted time is penalized if it is the second attempt after an obstacle has been rebuilt and the clock has not yet restarted, which is consistent with the current practices.

a. The time of a round may only be interrupted under the provisions of EV126.5. The clock is not stopped due to a deviation from the course, run-out, or refusal.
b. Disobediences are not penalized during interrupted time, except if a second refusal occurs after an Obstacle has been rebuilt. In that case, the refusal upon reapproach must be penalized, even if the clock has not yet restarted.
c. The provisions concerning Elimination remain in force during interrupted time.

EV127.8: Intent: To clarify the language so it is not misleading that an Athlete may run the cross-country for educational purposes if 20 or more penalties are incurred in the Show Jumping phase. The intent of this rule was for safety and the new language further supports that intent.

8. COMPULSORY RETIREMENT. An Athlete incurs 20 or more jump penalties at the Training level or higher. Compulsory Retirement is enforced at the end of the round unless the Athlete retires or is Eliminated. An Athlete who receives a CR will not be permitted to begin the Cross-Country phase.

EV163.6: Intent: To refer out to the General Rules so Organizers understand that just because the Eventing Chapter is silent to the requirements below Preliminary, it does not mean it is not required - reference should be made to General Rules.

6. FARRIER. At Horse Trials and Classic Three-Day Events offering the Preliminary throughAdvanced levels, a farrier must be present on the grounds during the Cross-Country and Show Jumping phases. For Modified levels and below, refer to GR1211.6c. GR1211.5.6.c: A farrier must be on the grounds or on call at all other competitions.

EV Appendix 3 4.2.4 Intent: To align the language with the FEI rulebook and clarify the requirements for categorized A and B riders at the CCI4*-S is 1 CCI3* for the horse only.

4.2.4 CCI4*-S All “C” & “D” categorized riders must use the eligibility requirements for uncategorized riders. The Horse must have achieved 2 MERs at the Intermediate level or higher.

Rider Category

FEI Requirements

Federation Requirements



1 CCI3* (Horse only)

2 Intermediate of higher (MER)

Want to catch up on past rule refreshers? Click here.

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“And again, and again, and again”: Knowing When to Come Again and When to Switch Up an Exercise

The great football coach Vince Lombardi said, “We win our games in practice.” With the goal of having the most effective practices possible for horses, their riders, and their coaches, Cathy Wieschhoff explains some signs that can indicate when horse and rider should repeat an exercise, switch it up, or be done with that activity. Wieschhoff brings perspective as a five-star rider that has competed at the Kentucky Three-Day Event and Burghley Horse Trials, a USEF “R” Course Designer for eventing cross-country and show jumping, a former Area VIII chair and member of the USEA Board of Governors, and a Level V USEA ECP Certified Coach based out of Carriage Station Farm in Lexington, Kentucky.

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