I have read a lot of the posts on Eventing Nation and thought it might be interesting for people to learn about the UK classes below Preliminary.
In the UK over 80% of the membership participates in what is called grassroots competitions these range from BE80T which starts at 80cm and goes up to Preliminary (US) which is called Novice in the UK.
BE80T was introduced two years ago by BE. Part of the reason was a lot of members wanted safe and professionally run competition at this level. We have large numbers of unaffiliated competition in this country but a lot of it is run by Pony Club or Riding Club and I have been to competitions on a green horse looking for a confidence boosting time and discovered a really odd fence. Unaffiliated can be a bit hit or miss depending on who is building the course. The main part of the BE80T is the training aspect. You have a BE accredited trainer there who takes you through every aspect from walking the courses, warming you up and answering any questions. The main participants in BE80T are aged 40-60 years old. They have maybe had a family and are looking to get back into riding competitively again. They really like the training aspect of the class and they have been well received.
(It’s run next to the safari park so you get to warm up next to sea lions!)
BE90 is a 90cm class. This was introduced about 6 years ago as it was felt that BE100 was getting too technical and many amateurs wanted a class which fed naturally into BE100. BE90 has got more technical as the higher levels have increased. You now find mini versions of everything you would find at Novice and Intermediate but on a softer scale. If you come 1st to 3rd in a BE90 you qualify for a BE90 regional final. These take place throughout the country and the top 25% qualify for the grassroots championships which take place at Badminton during the 4*. Anyone who has competed at CIC2* and above has to compete HC in an intro. Horses are not allowed any points (points can only be achieved at Novice and above). This year I have seen more and more pros starting their young horses at BE90 where as in the past they would start at BE100. We do not have pro or amateur sections in the UK so BE90 and BE80T are the only specific amateur classes.
BE100 is 100cm (do you see a theme here!) and is the last real level of grassroots. Like the BE90 the 1st to 3rd in a class qualifies for a regional final with the top 25% qualifying for the championship at Badminton. Only those who have not competed at CIC2* and above are eligible for the championship. At BE100 this is the first time you can compete against pros as an equal. Anyone can ride in BE100 as long as the horse has no points. Two years ago in order to make the jump to Novice easier a class called BE100+ was introduced. This was a novice level dressage test and show jumping which was 1.05m to 1.10m with BE100 cross country. They have been pretty popular as they narrow the gap between BE100 and Novice. There is a BE100 three day event but so far only one event – Aldon has made a success of this. In the UK riders are just not that interested in long format but the end of season three day at Aldon is often used as a fun event at the end of a season as its more technical than a regular BE100.
Novice (UK) – I have been doing Novice since 2007 and it has got harder! In the 3 years I have been doing it the course have become more technical and the show jumping much harder with lots of related distances, dog legs and tight use of corners. It’s no longer possible to enter having gone well at BE100 and expect it to be ok. There used to be courses with an easy reputation but slowly they are either downgrading to BE100 or they have been beefed up. At Novice if you are placed or you get a double clear you get points. These mean you are then not eligible for the classes below or you have to enter an open section. Points stay with a horse for life.
This year BE have introduced downgrading which is a big contentious issue but BE says they take it on a case by case scenario and some horses have been refused. Downgraded horses are not eligible for the grassroots championships. If a horse has points and the rider wants to learn the ropes then providing the horse has not won any points within 2 years then it will be considered.
Finally the other thing that has been introduced this year is foundation points. These are points handed out to BE90 and BE100 competitors for being placed or for getting a double clear. There is currently an updated list on the BE website which lists the top 20 horses and riders for foundation points and I believe the aim is to have regional points competitions and prizes. Personally I am not sure of the benefits but I can understand that if you are competing at BE90 its great to have a double clear recognised.
The figures and statistics
Last year there were 180 events run throughout the UK.
21,213 took part at BE90
33,996 took part at BE100
24,995 took part at Novice.
The typical cost of being a member of BE is Â£120 and to register the horse its Â£80.
To enter a BE90 or BE100 will cost between Â£55-70 depending on the event. We also have to pay Â£10 start fee which normally covers medical costs.
Most riders have at least 20 events within a 2 hour radius. I am very lucky and have about 40 due to my location.