Rules Rules Rules

Before I get started with today’s post, I have to take a minute to thank Pam at Mango Bay for stepping in at the 11th hour and making sure that my facebook fundraising campaign for USEA Foundation met it’s goal yesterday. When we’re picking and choosing where to spend our money, it’s nice to know which small business owners give back so generously, in turn, to our sport. Pam/Mango Bay is among the best, and I think everyone should know that!

Okay, moving on…


Usually every year when the new FEI rule approvals roll out, I glance at them without much more than a modicum of interest. They affect the upper levels of sport, of which I am obviously a fan, but they generally don’t really affect ME, the lower level competitor. At least not immediately (because we all know trickle-down is a thing, and when things change at FEI they have a way of making it down the chain sooner or later). They’re usually pretty boring, either very tiny changes or matters of semantics. This year, though… this year a few things really caught my attention.

Image result for fei equestre

First, from the perspective of “fan”, the big HALLELUJAH from me came with the announcement of the removal of the dressage coefficient for eventing. The FEI states that this was “to address risk management issues through rebalancing the importance of cross country skills” which I completely 100% wholeheartedly agree with. For those who aren’t totally clear on how the coefficient worked, it weighted the dressage marks by 1.5, placing more emphasis on the importance of a good dressage score. Which, IMO, is definitely not what we should be doing in upper level eventing. Interestingly enough, Equiratings went back and looked at some 4* and championship results, and over the past 6 years there are FIVE 4* events and one WEG that would have had different winners without the coefficient. That’s cray.

The second thing that really caught my eye was from a rider/competitor perspective, and purely for selfish reasons. This would be the new restructuring of the star levels for eventing starting in 2019.

So basically the current 4* becomes a 5* Major, current 3* becomes 4*, current 2* becomes 3* etc. While my initial reaction to this was to wrinkle my nose up – after all, 4* is FOUR STAR and always has been, right? Boo, change. But SJ goes up to 5* level, so this kind of puts us more in line with them as far as star ratings go, which does make sense in my head.

And right there, at the very bottom of the chart, is the introduction of a new star level – the new 1*. If you read the original FEI rule change proposal, it states: “the introduction of a CI* at a lower level event of a XC at 1.05 meter level. This new category would allow a transition between national and international competitions in developing countries. The level can be used for the Pony championship as well as the basis for developing a Children level/category in Eventing.”. For us plebeians who used to think of the current 1* as a faraway, distant, maybe-someday-but-probably-never goal, the new introductory level could be pretty appealing and much more attainable… if you’re into paying lots of membership fees and higher entry fees to show at the “international” level, anyway. Brilliant in a lot of ways on the part of FEI, both to use this level as a stepping stone to the upper levels, and to bring more money in. Making a 1* just a little bit smaller opens it up to a whole lot more people/horses.


Over in the showjumping world there are two semi-interesting changes for 2018. First being a clarification to the rule about blood in the mouth… now it will read: Horses bleeding in the mouth (in minor cases of blood in the mouth, such as where a Horse appears to have bitten its tongue or lip) Officials may authorize the rinsing or wiping of the mouth and allow the Athlete to continue; any further evidence of blood in the mouth will result in Elimination. Which makes it match up with the other disciplines. I don’t like the rule, personally, but I can get on board with it at least be standard across the disciplines. Weirdly, no one from FEI called to ask me what I think. 😉 The second rule for SJ says hind boots can only be used for purposes of protection. That’s past due, IMO.

The major change for dressage, which I think is REALLY EXCITING (I mean it’s still dressage, but it’s exciting for them) is the removal of most of the collective marks. No more scores for paces, impulsion, and submission – now you’ll have one score that covers the rider’s seat, aids, and correctness. I think it has the potential (although granted I can see how it might not play out this way) to level the playing field just a tiny bit, which in turn could be really interesting. How much do I have to pay USEA to take the submission and impulsion scores off of THEIR tests?

Either way, I think it will be interesting to see how all these things play out in the long run. What do you guys think of the new rule changes? And more interestingly, how do you think these changes could trickle down over time into the lower levels?


19 thoughts on “Rules Rules Rules

  1. I also have never really paid a huge attention to the going on of the FEI as it always seemed way beyond what I was doing. But with Dr Rob Stevenson (Chair of the Eventing High-Performance Advisory Group for EC and FEI Eventing Risk Management Steering Group) just living four hours away from me and with him planing it is all of a sudden something that looks maybe kinda somewhat doable in an OMG are you crazy Kinda way! So I am putting on my big girl undies, trying not to vomit just thinking about it and making a plan to try to do the New intro level!!!!


  2. We here in Canada use the dressage coefficient so it will be interesting to see if EC follows suit and ditched it. When I was younger I never realised the USA did not and I was Like WTF how do they get scores that LOW!


    1. I’m looking forward to it being gone! Every time I share my results, I feel like I need to qualify them like “I’m Canadian! And I’m proud of my 45 after dressage! :)” On a less vain note, particularly at the lower levels it will be nice to not have the dressage weighted so heavily….it seems silly that someone can put in a solid dressage test and a double clear SJ and XC but still place behind the fancy moving horses with multiple time penalties or SJ faults.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m having a hard time finding information on this, so mayyyyyybe you know the answer. I was recently told that to compete at first level at a USDF/USEF dressage show, they’re changing the rule in 2018 to you MUST use a dressage saddle. I dug through a bunch of USDF/USEF stuff, but couldn’t find anything. And I messaged USDF on fb… they put me on read and then ignored it. Classic…

    Have you read about this rule change anywhere?


    1. I haven’t, but I don’t pay close attention to USEF dressage rules unless they pertain to me in eventing. Have you tried just emailing whoever they list for rules on the USEF site? I’ve done that before when I had questions about the legality of certain tack, and they were always quick to answer.


  4. I don’t understand half of what you posted but i do think that intro level looks interesting for people who aspire to go that high. And i am so bad at math i never understood the coefficient of ANYTHING LOL. But yay? I guess? LOL


  5. I like the dressage changes, though I’m torn over them. I really think taking the score weighting away is a great choice, and should have been done years ago. Long experiment on the short format, guys. Srsly. Taking away scores for submission and impulsion bothers me, but I do agree with them doing away with them and judging the rider more instead. Scored accurately, submission and impulsion scores should reflect on the rider (if you have shit hands, your horse is going to have a shit submission score. Related, if you can’t sit the trot, your horse should have a shit impulsion score.). HOWEVER, I’ve noticed eventing judges seem to be the literal worst at judging dressage. They seem very swayed by “fancy” and not be able to see through flash to the quality of the movements as performed. It bothers me, and I think this change should take some of that stupid flash blindness away. Thank god. I’m really sick of seeing horses who fling their legs and don’t actually accept the bit, or lift their withers, or appropriately track up being rewarded with disproportionately high scores.

    Also, apparently I’m totally out of it. What were hind boots being used for in SJ if not protection?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Weighted boots have been mostly not allowed for a while — there’s a a total weight limit, anyway. Glad to see this change, though, that clarifies that rule to a certain extent. I think it will be easier to enforce, rather than having a grey area.


  6. I only read about the eventing rules, and I am SO ON BOARD with deleting that coefficient. It usually has not, and shouldn’t ever be a dressage competition. I was super happy it was going back to more emphasis on XC. I do hope this trickles down to the lower levels and I think it will eventually. In pure dressage I had no idea submission and impulsion and paces were taken out. Holy crap YES. At least about the submission and paces. I do think impulsion should be there because you need impulsion to do it right, but so happy about submission and paces. I never really liked the word submission, and thought it added a sort of “false ideal” to the rides – I think this ideal sort of helped spawn the whole rolkur movement. And if you didn’t have a “fancy” horse, no dice. But there have been plenty of superbly trained horses who wouldn’t match the “dressage fancy” but damn can they do the work. So this makes me happy. It was a difference I noticed in the USDF and western dressage tests – there was no submission score, but there was a harmony score. And I liked that idea of the rider and horse working in harmony during the test instead of what the word submission implies. If they did decide to keep that, I’d love it if USEA used the word acceptance instead. Because xc and show jumping requires a horse that can think on its feet, and I think acceptance is better for that – the horse is accepting of the rider’s directives. Maybe I’m looking too much into semantics and most people don’t care lol. But this was a great post. Thank you!


  7. I struggled with wrapping my head around the new star ratings and thought they could of done a better job of adjusting them, but after thinking on it and your point about SJ already using a 5* format I think it makes sense. I don’t love the lingo of short, long and major but I can understand how much simpler this would be for someone on the outside or new to the sport would understand the differences. Change always brings resistance until it becomes acceptance 😂


  8. I’m not 100% sold on changing the star ratings mostly because I’m resistant to change in all forms. The addition of a 1.05m class is a good idea though we already run that in NZ as cnc105. And hallelujah about the boots. Because it’s a false system that is performance enhancing. It will be interesting though where they draw the line because I used to use the long open front eskadron hind boots because the orange horse could scrape himself from hock to hoof with his other foot, but they also had a very subtle effect that caused some exaggeration of his hind action. It will be interesting to see what happens.


  9. I appreciate that many of these changes do not seem to have been made just for the sake of change – they seem thoughtful and with an eye to what the sport of eventing stands for and shoukd be. I’m not sure I like the change up of the star system, tho agree that to make international competition more accessible is a positive thing.

    I’m also not sure how I feel about eliminating the collectives from the dressage tests. Frankly I see the collectives as performing an important scoring opportunity on the overall picture and quality of a test and ridden partnership. And it’s not like getting rid of them makes it meaningfully faster for a judge to score the test either. The more scores on a test, the less any one blip is like to majorly effect the final score. But the collectives are also there for when a horse and rider maybe got thru the test ok but the judge finds fault in overall training. Idk. I just see the collectives as an important part of the score, and having already gotten rid of the coefficient that impacts how influential dressage is in the overall competition, I’m not sure what this particular change will mean. Oddly enough tho, nobody called me either about my opinion haha


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s