Sep 26, 2023

Start Your Engines—Starter Level to Be USEA Recognized for 2024 Eventing Season

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
USEA/Meagan DeLisle photo

At the August USEA Board of Governors meeting, a proposition was brought forth to officially recognize what is commonly referred to as “Starter level” as a USEA division. For many years now, Starter level has been offered as a test at USEA approved events. The decision to recognize the level officially would allow those competing in Starter level divisions to receive recognition on the USEA Leaderboards and to compete at the Starter level at the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) in the future. The motion was approved to recognize this level, and the USEA staff have been hard at work preparing all of the rules, guidelines, and standards that will go along with this level’s recognition for the 2024 season.

What you should know

The official recognition of the Starter level at USEA events will begin on Dec. 1, 2023, the official start of the 2024 eventing season. The USEA has defined the purpose of the starter level as follows:

To serve as the entry point into the sport by providing a low-impact introduction to the sport of eventing, competing in all the three phases of a horse trial: dressage, cross-country and show jumping. The experience should be fun and educational.

There are no qualifications for a horse or rider to compete at the Starter level. USEA membership for the rider is mandatory to accumulate year-end points that will attribute to various leaderboards, awards, and championship qualifications, however a USEA membership is optional while competing at this level.

Similarly, horse registration is also optional. A limited or full registration is mandatory to accumulate year-end award points, qualifications for area championships and future USEA American Eventing Championships.

For the accumulation of year-end awards, point values will be the same as what are issued for the Beginner Novice level. For AEC eligibility, the qualifications will also be the same as the Beginner Novice level. For USEA Area Championships, qualifications are to be determined and set forth by the relevant Area Council.

At this time, Starter levels are not guaranteed at any USEA championship in 2024. The USEA will update members accordingly should the option become available to offer the level for any 2024 or 2025 championships.

Competition Guidelines

Like the other USEA recognized levels, dress and tack regulations will both fall into accordance with the USEF Rules for Eventing, Subchapters EV-9 Dress, EV-10 Saddlery, and USEF Annex 1.

For the 2024 season, the following dressage tests will be utilized for the Starter level:

Numbers and letters for cross-country will be designated by the Organizer and printed on the course map. The cross-country distance will range from 1200-1800 meters with a speed of 300-350 mpm. There should be 12-16 efforts on a Starter level cross-country course with a fixed height of .70m (2’3”), a brush height of .85m (2’9”), a top spread of .70m (2’3”), a base spread with height of 1.00m (3’3”), and a base spread without height of 1.15m (3’9”). Drops should be no more than .90m (3’0”). If water is used, an option should be provided. Combinations are not allowed.

For show jumping, the maximum distance is 600 meters with a speed of 300 mpm. An appropriate course will feature 8-10 jumping efforts at a height of .70m (2’3”) with a spread of .75m (2’6”). Triple bars are not appropriate at the Starter level and combinations are not allowed.

For more information regarding the Starter level, please refer to the official USEA Starter Level Requirements & Regulations page here.

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