Jan 09, 2022

Rule Refresher: So You Want to Start Eventing

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
Taylor Pence Photo.

Welcome to the wild world of eventing where we ride when it rains, thank our volunteers, and always say, “have a good ride!” to our fellow competitors. Eventing is made up of three phases: dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. To help you prepare for your first horse trial, it is important that you review all of the rules outlined in the USEF Rules for Eventing, but it is especially important that you understand the purpose and intent of each of the three phases.

To make sure you had a chance to review, we are taking a look at EV 131 and 132 of Subchapter 3 – Rules for Horse Trials. Text has been taken directly from the USEF Rules for Eventing with emphasis added by the USEA.

EV131 Introduction

1. DEFINITION. The Horse Trial comprises three distinct tests, usually taking place on one or two days, during which a competitor rides the same horse throughout, namely:

a. Dressage

b. Cross-Country

c. Show Jumping

d. The Dressage Test must be first. The Cross-Country and Jumping Tests may follow in either order.

2. RELATIVE INFLUENCE OF THE TESTS. In principle, the Cross-Country Test should be the most influential of the three tests of a Horse Trial. The Dressage Test, while less influential than the Cross-Country Test, should be slightly more influential than the Jumping Test.

3. LEVELS OF HORSE TRIALS. The following levels of competition may be offered at a Horse Trial:

a. Advanced

b. Intermediate

c. Preliminary

d. Modified

e. Training

f. Novice

g. Beginner Novice

4. INDIVIDUAL COMPETITION. There will always be an individual competition. Where there is a team competition, each member of a team will automatically be considered as an individual competitor.

5. TEAM COMPETITION. There may be a team competition. Teams will consist of three or four competitors.

EV132 Classification


a. In the Dressage Test, each Competitor’s good marks awarded by the judges are converted into penalty points. They are recorded for inclusion in the final classification and published.

b. In the Cross-Country Test, each competitor’s penalties for faults at obstacles are added to the penalties incurred for excess time. They are recorded for inclusion in the final classification and published.

c. In the Jumping Test, each competitor’s penalties for faults at obstacles are added to the penalties incurred for excess time. They are recorded for inclusion in the final classification and published.


a. The winning individual is the competitor with the lowest total of penalty points, after adding together for each competitor the penalty points incurred in the three tests.

b. In the event of equality between any two or more competitors, the classification is decided by:

1. The best Cross-Country score including penalties for faults at obstacles, time penalties and any other penalty that he/she may have incurred on the Cross-Country Test.

2. If there is still equality, the classification is decided in favor of the Competitor whose Cross-Country time was closest to the optimum time.

3. If there is still equality, the Competitor with the best Jumping score including penalties at obstacles and time penalties.

4. If there is still equality, the classification will be decided in favor of the Competitor with the best collective marks in the Dressage Test.

5. If there is still equality, the tie will remain in the final classification.


a. The winning team is that with the lowest total of penalty points, after adding together the final scores of the three highest placed competitors in the team.

b. In the event of equality between any two or more teams, the winning team will be that whose third placed competitor has the best score.


a. The disqualification or elimination from one of the tests entails disqualification or elimination from the final classification.

b. The Ground Jury, in consultation with the Organizing Committee, may, if requested, permit a competitor who has been eliminated in an earlier Test to take part in the subsequent Test(s). After elimination in any previous Test, any competitor who starts a subsequent Test without such permission will be liable to disciplinary action, including a reprimand and/or a fine of up to $100 payable to the Organizing Committee.

c. A competitor who withdraws or retires a horse is considered to have withdrawn or retired from the entire competition and will not be permitted to continue in subsequent tests with that horse, except with the expressed permission of the ground jury.

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

Jan 24, 2022 Leaderboard

The USEA Lady Rider of 2021 is Leading the Charge in Elevating Eventing Competition on the West Coast

Tamie Smith’s year has been nothing short of action-packed as she packed up all 25 of her competition horses and made her way to the East Coast for the first part of the year before hopping on a jet to Tokyo where she served as the U.S. team reserve for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She then stayed overseas and competed abroad for a little while before returning home to the West Coast. While this year has been full of opportunities to show, her aspirations are bigger than just competition. The 2021 Bates USEA Lady Rider of the Year has been full steam ahead chasing goals in both her riding career as well as in her impact on the sport’s future.

Jan 23, 2022 Area Resources

Meet the USEA Areas: Area I

Get to know each United States Eventing Association (USEA) Areas a little better in this new series, Meet the Areas! This month’s feature is USEA Area I which is comprised of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Founded in the 1960s, Area I was the birthplace of the United States Combined Training Association (USCTA) which was founded in 1959 and would later evolve into the USEA in 2001. In 2021 just under 800 members made up the membership count in Area I.

Jan 22, 2022 Instructors

A Treasure Trove of Information: Get Another Sneak Peek at the USEA Eventing Handbook by the Levels

Trainers, riders, parents, and more are in for a real treat when the all-new USEA Eventing Handbook by the Levels is officially released. Those participating in the 2022 USEA Instructors’ Certification Program (ICP) Symposium at Barnstaple South Farm in Ocala, Florida on February 8-9 will be the first to set eyes on this all-encompassing guide that has been two years in the making.

Jan 21, 2022 Young Event Horse

Get Your Young Event Horses Ready: 2022 YEH Calendar and YEH Rule Change Updates Announced

The USEA established the Young Event Horse (YEH) program in 2004 to identify young horses that possess the talent and disposition to, with proper training, excel at the uppermost levels of the sport. While the goal of the YEH program is to identify horses that will be successful at the four- and five-star levels, horses with the potential for lower-level success are also showcased by the program.

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