Jul 17, 2022

Rule Refresher: What Will Be Expected of Me at the Preliminary, Intermediate, and Advanced Level?

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
USEA/ Meagan DeLisle photo

Preparing for your first horse trial and not sure what is expected of you at each level? In the last few editions of Rule Refresher we will be diving into each level and the performance expectations of each phase and in this final edition we outline the Preliminary, Intermediate, and Advanced levels. 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.


5. Preliminary: The Preliminary Level is a moderate examination of competitors and horses in a regular training program preparing for Two Star Events.

a. Dressage: The dressage test may include medium paces at the trot and canter, as well as the
introduction of leg yielding, shoulder in, rein back, and changes of lead through the trot

b. Cross-Country: The cross-country should include tests of accuracy, agility, boldness, control, judgment and jumping ability. Obstacles may be on a bounce distance.

c. Show Jumping: The jumping course must include either (i) two or three doubles; or (ii) a double and a triple combination.

  1. The jumping course should be more technical than the Training Level and may require lengthening or shortening of stride.

6. Intermediate: The Intermediate Level is an examination of increasing technical difficulty, preparing competitors and horses for Three Star Events.

a. Dressage: The dressage test may include canter to halt and walk to canter transitions, as well as turns on the haunches, simple changes, counter canter and half pass.

b. Cross-Country: The cross-country should now combine in more elaborate settings the tests introduced at the Preliminary Level, such as combinations with more than one question to be solved.

c. Show Jumping: The jumping course must include either (i) a double and a triple combination; or (ii) three doubles, with more related distances, and technical questions than the preliminary.

7. Advanced: The Advanced Level is the highest national level of Horse Trials. It offers tests of significant difficulty designed to prepare competitors and horses for either Four or Five Star Events.

a. Dressage: The dressage test may include extensions in all three paces, half pass at the trot and/or
canter, and single flying changes

b. Cross-Country: The cross-country should be clearly a test of boldness and scope as it now combines size with technical difficulty.

c. Show Jumping: The jumping course must include either (i) a double and a triple combination; or (ii) three doubles. The jumping course must be the most technical Division of the national competition.

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

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