Know Your Qualifications: CIC* and CCI*

Leah Snowden and Ivy League at the 2012 Hagyard Midsouth CCI*. Photo by Samantha Clark. Leah Snowden and Ivy League at the 2012 Hagyard Midsouth CCI*. Photo by Samantha Clark.

It’s the time of year where riders are sitting back, taking a deep breath and evaluating their fall season. Before long, we will all be looking forward to next season and thinking about the goals we would like to accomplish next year.

If you dipped your toe in the Preliminary waters at the end of this fall, you might be thinking about trying for a one-star sometime next year. Today we’re going to run through exactly what sort of qualifications you’ll need to enter your first FEI event. These can be found in the USEF Eventing Rules and the FEI Rules for Eventing.

For this series, the focus is on the requirements of the “uncategorized” rider, which will be any first-time FEI competitor.

The first thing is to understand, know and memorize the Minimum Eligibility Requirements, generally referred to as MERs. These are the performance requirements that the FEI has established in order for you to participate in their shows.

These must be accomplished throughout all phases in one show for it to be an MER; you cannot piece requirements together from different shows to create an MER. To obtain an MER at a show, you must:

  • Score 75.0 or below in dressage (50.0 for NQR)
  • No jump penalties on cross country
  • No more than 90 seconds over optimum time on cross country, which equates to 36.0 time penalties
  • Four rails or less in show jumping

For USEF horse trials, these requirements still apply but are called National Qualifying Results, or NQRs. The requirements for NQRs are identical to MERs, but account for the change in horse trial dressage scoring. For the one-star level, you will deal primarily with NQRs while qualifying, but will be trying to complete the MER at the one-star.

There are always two sets of requirements for each level: FEI and National. Horses and riders must satisfy FEI requirements as a pair; MER qualifications for uncategorized riders cannot be obtained separately from the horse. However, NQR requirements can be obtained separately.

Additionally, the USEF requires that for all levels, one qualifying result (either MER or NQR) must be obtained within 12 months of the show you are entering. They also allow one cross country jump penalty to appear in one of the MER results if multiple MER qualifications are required. However, if only one MER qualification is required, the cross country must be clear of jump penalties. All NQR results must be clear of cross country jump penalties unless otherwise specified.

For one-star, the first FEI level, the only requirements that need to be satisfied are National requirements. That means that the horse and rider do not need to obtain the qualifications as a pair, but both do need to have accomplished them.

One Star Flow Chart

Click for a handy dandy printable PDF


  • One NQR at Preliminary or above for both horse and rider within 12 months


  • Four NQR at Preliminary or above for both horse and rider
  • One of the four NQR for both horse and rider must be within 12 months
  • One of the four NQR may have 20 jump penalties in the cross country phase
  • A CIC* would qualify as an “or higher” event, counting towards qualifications

As a final note of caution, make sure to begin the application process for your horse’s passport quite early, ideally a full season before you will need it. The process is not terribly quick and expensive to expedite, so it’s usually best to get a jump on this early.

Click here to download a printable PDF of the CIC*/CCI* qualification chart.

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