May 26, 2022

Rule Refresher: What Will Be Expected of Me at the Beginner Novice or Novice Level?

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
USEA/ KTB Creative Group photo

Preparing for your first horse trial and not sure what is expected of you at each level? Over the course of the next few Rule Refreshers, we will be diving into each level and the performance expectations of each phase. Want to better prepare yourself or your students for their first competition or a move-up? The USEA Eventing Handbook by the Levels is a free resource to all USEA members that outlines clear and consistent guidelines for riders and trainers to refer to when navigating their way through the competition levels. You can access this guide by logging into your online services account.

Text has been taken directly from the USEF Rules for Eventing with emphasis added by the USEA.

For an additional description of the types of obstacles that may be presented at a given level, please refer to the USEA Cross-Country Obstacle Design Guidelines, which are not specifically incorporated by reference.

Beginner Novice—The Beginner Novice level is designed to introduce green horses and riders to Horse Trials, combining dressage, cross-country and Beginner jumping tests. It is for competitors and horses that have already had experience in schooling competitions in all three disciplines. The goal for the experience should be educational to build confidence and a desire to progress.

a. Dressage: Competitors should be prepared to do a walk, trot and canter dressage test with 20-meter figures and a halt.

b. Cross-Country: Obstacles, solid in appearance, with ground lines where appropriate to enhance the fence profile.

  1. There must be no jumps before or after a water crossing within 78 feet (25 meters) before and 54 feet (16 meters) after.
  2. A step up and down, but not in combination, may be included. Ditches must be riveted and include a visible ground line that has rounded edges and is at least 6 inches (15 cm) above grade.
  3. The track of the course must avoid turns of less than a 20-meter radius.
  4. The course may not include more than one combination composed of two elements, where the fences must be a minimum of 33 feet apart or 54 feet after a ditch or step up.

c. Show Jumping: The jumping course should be inviting and straightforward, preferably with lines of 82 feet or more and may include only one double set on two strides, a minimum of 34 feet, which may include only one oxer at the a) part of the combination.

Novice—The Novice Level is a continuing introduction to Horse Trials. It is designed for competitors and horses with some experience at lower levels or for experienced riders and horses new to the sport.

a. Dressage: The dressage will not differ greatly from Beginner Novice.

b. Cross-Country: Obstacles, solid in appearance, with ground lines where appropriate to enhance the fence profile

  1. Obstacles in combinations should be a minimum of 33 feet apart, and an obstacle after a ditch or step up at no less than 42 feet (apart).
  2. Steps in combination may include: a step up followed by a step down at a minimum of 30 feet, two steps up at a minimum of 33 feet, or an obstacle after a step up of a minimum 30 feet.
  3. Water obstacles may include a step or single fence out of water or a single fence 45 feet before the water and a single fence 30 feet after water.

c. Show Jumping: The jumping course should be inviting and straightforward, preferably with lines of 82 feet or more and shall include only one or two doubles, set on two strides of a minimum of 34 feet. Each combination may include only one oxer at the a) part of the combination.

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

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