USEA Unveils Latest USEF Rule Change Proposals

Jessica Kyzer and Harmonicat

The USEA is proposing the addition of a Modified level between Training height (shown in photo) and Preliminary height. Photo by Jenni Autry.

The USEA has unveiled the latest USEF rule changes that will be discussed at this December’s USEA Annual Meeting and Convention in Washington D.C., and put forward to the USEF Eventing Technical Committee for discussion at that time. The rule change proposals would then be voted on in January at the USEF Convention.

“We have an outstanding Board of Governors, and we manage to put aside our differences and check our egos at the door,” USEA President Diane Pitts said. “We roll up our sleeves and work our way to what we believe are the best solutions to the issues and problems we face. We work to be responsive to the membership, and this year we spent a lot of time discussing the need to ensure that the lower levels remain welcoming and to stop the perceived upward ‘creep’ in cross country questions at the lower levels.”

Read on for a summary of the three key rule change proposals.

Addition of a Modified level

After many years of discussing the possibility of adding a division between the Preliminary and Training levels, the USEA is now officially proposing the addition of a new level called Modified, which would be introduced starting in 2017.

“The transition from Training to Preliminary has long been considered the most difficult transition in the sport of eventing,” the USEA states in its report. “Among other reasons, the introduction of a Modified level is viewed as a way to prevent the perceived need to increase speeds and difficulty at the lower levels.”

The dressage test for Modified level would include medium paces at the trot and canter, an introduction to leg yields, and changes of lead through the trot. Jumps would be set at 3’5″ for both cross country and show jumping.

Riders would be required to obtain two qualifying scores at Training Level or higher in order to compete at the Modified level. This division would not be required as a prerequisite for competing at Preliminary, and organizers would not be required to offer the new division.

Requirements for helmets and body protectors

The USEA is also proposing a rule that would require all riders to wear a helmet and body protector that meets the current ASTM/SEI standard and “strongly recommend” that riders wear a helmet meeting the newest ASTM/SEI standard, which will go into effect in January 2016. Body protectors meeting the BETA standard would also be accepted under this rule.

The current ASTM standard for helmets is ASTM F1163 O4a, and the new standard taking effect in January is ASTM F1163-13. Any helmets labeled ASTMF1163 O4a would be legal under this proposed rule, as well as helmets meeting the new ASTM F1164-13 standard. Riders4Helmets published an excellent explanation of the new standard at this link.

The current USEF Rules for Eventing recommend that body protectors meet the ASTM standard F1937 or be certified by the SEI; this new rule would now require that body protectors meet those standards. BETA certified vests would also be accepted under this new rule; those are labeled “Level 3 body protector” with the year 2000 or 2009 shown on the label.

Opening dates

The USEA is also proposing that entries for all events open on the Tuesday prior to the date that falls six weeks before the first day of the event. Currently, CCN events (an international term that refers to a three-day event) open eights weeks prior to the first day of the competition, and having two sets of opening dates has caused confusion for some competitors, the USEA said.

Other important notes

Country Design Thresholds: The USEA Course Designers Committee is continuing to work on the language for the Levels of Horse Trials Appendix in the USEF Rules for Eventing, as well as the USEA Course Design Guidelines. You’ll remember that proposed changes to this appendix caused quite a stir in the lead-up to last year’s USEA Convention, with the proposal ultimately being withdrawn during the convention.

Overall Leaderboard Revision: The USEA Board of Governors has voted to now include results from Beginner Novice, Novice and Training level events on the USEA Overall Leaderboard using a separate points scale system. The leaderboard previously only counted points from the Preliminary level and higher.

Amateur Upgrade Policy for Juniors: The USEA’s Amateur Upgrade Policy will now not apply if an eligible junior enters a non-age restrictive Rider division or Open division when a Junior Division is offered. Juniors not eligible to compete in a non-age restrictive Rider division will access the full benefits of the upgrade policy.

Full text of the rule change proposals is not yet available on the USEF website, but we’ll post links to those documents just as soon as they’re available. Click here to read the USEA’s full Board of Governors meeting report. What do you think of these USEF rule change proposals and new USEA policies?

[Report From the USEA Board of Governors Summer Meeting]