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.

Dec 04, 2022 Sponsor

Section 1031 Tax-Deferred Exchanges of Farms, Ranches & Investment Real Estate with Capital Square

Are you on the hunt for your next farm, ranch or investment property? USEA sponsor, Capital Square, has all of the information that you need to know about the tax advantages for investing in this type of property. Capital Square is an investor-centric firm and leader among tax-advantaged real estate investment sponsors with more than $2 billion in equity raised. Owners of farms, ranches and investment real estate enjoy several tax advantages, include the rules governing Section 1031 that defer taxable gains on the sale of real estate.

Dec 03, 2022 Classic Series

Looking Back at the 2022 USEA Classic Series

The USEA is so incredibly proud to allow the thrill of the 'chase to live on for those who want to experience the unforgettable rush of the classic long format three-day event through our USEA Classic Series events. Long-format events from the Beginner Novice to Preliminary levels are still a reality with the USEA Classic Series and include roads and tracks, steeplechase, and cross-country on "endurance day," as well as horse inspections. In addition, educational activities are offered at the USEA Classic Series Events to help prepare competitors, especially those who are contesting their first-ever long format event.

Dec 02, 2022 Convention

Awards Presentations and Special Functions at the 2022 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention

The 2022 United States Eventing Association (USEA) Annual Meeting & Convention in Savannah, Georgia is a time to celebrate the incredible achievements and memories made by our members throughout the year. During the convention, the USEA will shine a spotlight on the national awards winners, grant recipients and eventing legends during three separate events: the USEA Year End Awards Luncheon, the USEA Annual Meeting of Members Luncheon and the 8th edition of the USEA’s Eventing Hall of Fame Gala. With so many celebrations taking place in one packed weekend, it may be hard to decide which you want to attend. Keep reading for all you need to know to on these three uniquely special events!

Dec 02, 2022 Sponsor

Ride iQ Renews Partnership with the USEA

The United States Eventing Association, Inc. (USEA) is pleased to announce the return of an official USEA Educational Collaborator, Ride iQ. Ride iQ is a mobile app that allows riders to take audio lessons with top coaches while they ride, an opportunity that hasn’t existed before. In 2023, the USEA will partner with the company to offer exclusive content in collaboration with the USEA’s Eventing Coaches Program (ECP) and the EA21 program, as well as creating other unique educational opportunities.

Official Corporate Sponsors of the USEA

Official Joint Therapy Treatment of the USEA

Official Feed of the USEA

Official Saddle of the USEA

Official Real Estate Partner of the USEA

Official Equine Insurance of the USEA

Official Forage of the USEA

Official Supplement Feeding System of the USEA

Official Outerwear of the USEA

Official Competition & Training Apparel of the USEA