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.

Jul 03, 2022 Intercollegiate

A Day in the Life with USEA Intercollegiate Member Hannah Warner

Hannah Warner wears many hats: student at the University of Kentucky, UK Eventing Team President, competitor, and head groom for Alexa Ehlers. Fitting in all of her roles and responsibilities into her day-to-day life can be a challenge, but it is a challenge that Warner finds rewarding. The college senior is working towards a business degree through UK's online business program, so Warner is able to get creative with her schedule to pursue all of her academic and eventing related goals.

Jul 02, 2022 Area Championships

Twelve Area III Champions Crowned at 2022 Area Championships

The Area III Championships kicked off the 2022 USEA Area Championship season June 24-26 at the Stable View Summer H.T. in Aiken, South Carolina. Offering 12 different championship divisions from Intermediate to Beginner Novice, the championships were highly contested as riders from all across Area III put in a gallant effort in hopes of being deemed division champion. The USEA caught up with many of the individual champions to look back on their performances in Aiken that helped them bring home the top prize.

Jul 01, 2022 Young Riders

USEA Announces Athletes for the 2022 Emerging Athlete 21 Program

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce the athletes selected for the 2022 USEA Emerging Athlete 21 (EA21) Program. USEA Young Rider program members aged 21 and under are eligible for the program, which aims to creates a pipeline for potential U.S. team riders by identifying and developing young talent, improving horsemanship and riding skills, and training and improving skills and consistency.

Jul 01, 2022 AEC

Countdown to AEC: 2 Months Away! Tentative Competition, Entertainment Schedules, & More!

The USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds are just two months away. The AEC moves to the mountains this year, taking place at Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Montana across a long Labor Day weekend.

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