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US Equestrian Approves Pandemic-Related Rule Modifications for 2020

by US Equestrian Communications Department | May 21, 2020, 8:15 PM

The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) has approved additional modifications to USEF rules in accordance with a resolution approved by the Board of Directors to address issues related to the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic. A summary of the most recent modifications is listed below and the full content of each modification has been added to the comprehensive listing of modifications and appear in blue font. The full listing of rule modifications related to COVID-19 impacts can be viewed by clicking here. Additional rule modifications continue to be reviewed and will be published when approved.

Modifications to USEF Rules

The modifications listed below are effective immediately and remain in effect for the remainder of the 2020 competition year.

Equipment Inspections – AR246.20.c, DR121.7, DR121.10, DR126.4, DR206.8, RN103.3 and RN103.17
Arabian, Dressage, and Reining

  • Arabian – All AHA Reining Seat Medal class equipment inspections must be performed visually.
  • Dressage– All saddlery and equipment checks will be performed visually and at random. The Technical Delegate may follow the competitor to a designated area for inspection, if necessary. (See below for more detail)
  • Reining – All equipment checks/inspections must be performed visually.


MERs and Cross-Country Test of Horse Course Certification – EV105.1 & Appendix 3, and EV175.2.b.

  • Extends the validity of Minimum Eligibility Requirements (MERs) already earned from twelve months to eighteen months to allow U.S. Athlete/Horse combinations to compete as planned for in early summer 2020. Those who do not achieve a MER during the remainder of the 2020 competition year will be required to move down one height level in 2021 before resuming completion at the next highest height level.
  • Extends the period of time for site and course inspections for Cross-Country Test of Horse Trails from 12 months to 18 months prior to the competition.


Food and Beverage – GR1216, DR126.3, HJ105.1 and HJ107
All Breeds/Disciplines; additional specifics for Dressage, Hunter, Jumper & H/J Licensed Competitions

  • Waives the requirement to make food available and changes it to an option. Details the minimum requirements for providing water for participants.


Judges’ Use of Cell Phones – GR1033.3
All breeds/disciplines

  • Issues a clarification to the existing rule to better accommodate the use of cell phone or other electronic device technology to relay scores and other information in an effort to minimize the physical exchange of paper.


Jogging, Conformation and Model – HU118.3, HU121, HU130.d, HU136.7, and HU123.6
Hunter and H/J-Licensed Competitions

  • Jogging - The traditional manner of jogging for soundness in hunter classes is waived, and horses will now jog for soundness under saddle by trotting a circle on a loose rein at the end of each over fences performance.
  • Pony Hunter and Three Year Old Hunter Model and Conformation Classes - The requirement for model and conformation classes has been waived in the “A”-rated Regular and Green Pony Hunter sections, as well as the Three-Year-Old Hunter section. If model or conformation classes are held, handlers must comply with social distancing guidelines.
  • Green and High Performance Conformation Hunter - Handlers in model classes and conformation classes in the Green and High Performance Conformation Hunter sections must comply with social distancing guidelines.


USEF Entry Blank – GR908.5, GR908.6 and GR916
All breeds and disciplines
Removed language regarding the USEF Release, Assumption of Risk, Waiver and Indemnification which is no longer relevant due to the existence of a new USEF Release, Assumption of Risk, Waiver and Indemnification.


Horse Entry Standard – HJ101, HJ104, HJ109, HJ110, HJ111, HJ112 and HJ113
Hunter & H/J Licensed Competitions
The Horse Entry Standard for Premier, National, Two-Day Restricted Junior Amateur, Regional I and Regional II hunter rated competitions is waived. Competitions will NOT be reclassified to a lower rating based on the Horse Entry Standard.


Hunter Prize Money – HJ109.7c
Hunter & H/J Licensed Competitions
Premier and National hunter rated competitions must continue to offer a minimum of $24,000 at Premier and $5,000 at National hunter rated competitions in the rated hunter sections. However, at Premier hunter rated competitions, if sections are canceled or entries are insufficient to award all prize money, competitions will NOT be required to pool and redistribute additional money not awarded to the champions and the reserve champions of the remaining “A” rated hunter sections. These competitions will NOT be reclassified to a lower rating based on the amount of hunter prize money paid.


Combining and Dividing of Sections or Classes – HU155, HU158, HU162.1 and HU162.5
Hunter & H/J Licensed Competitions
Adds language providing guidance on combining and dividing of sections or classes.


Paramedics – HJ105.1h
Hunter & H/J Licensed Competitions
If the services of a Paramedic cannot be secured for a Premier hunter rated competition, an EMT may be substituted.


Officiating Limitations for Stewards and Technical Delegates – GR1034
All breeds and disciplines
The limitations of GR 1034.4, GR 1034.5 and GR 1034.6 are waived. These rules limited the number of times a steward or technical delegate could officiate in a specific area or at a specific competition within a certain period of time.


Officiating Limitations for Judges – GR1038.4, GR1038.5 and GR1038.6
All breeds and disciplines
The limitations of GR 1038.4, GR 1038.5 and GR 1038.6 are waived. These rules limited the number of times a judge could officiate in a specific area or specific competition within a certain period of time.


Braiding – HU147, HU148, SP111, HK116 and HK143
Hackney, Hunter and Shetland

  • Ladies Side Saddle Classes – The requirement to braid the mane and tail of horses in these classes is waived.
  • Shetland – The requirement to have one braid in the foretop and immediately back of the bridle is waived.
  • Hackney – All braiding must be done by the pony’s owner, exhibitor, trainer or member of the stable’s staff.


Equipment Inspections – PF127, WD120, WD124 and WD129
Paso Fino and Western Dressage
*Presidential Modifications involving equipment inspections in other breeds and disciplines are forthcoming and will be published soon

  • Paso Fino – All equipment inspections must be done visually.
  • Western Dressage– All equipment inspections must be done visually.


Modifications Specific to Dressage

Equipment Inspections - DR121.7, DR121.10, DR126.4, DR206.8
All equipment inspections conducted after rides will be visual and completed at random (removed requirement for 1/3 of horses in a class). Additionally, TDs may follow the horse to a designated area for the inspection in order to provide for a safe and socially-distanced inspection. Gloves are not required as the inspections will be visual. The above applies to Dressage Sport Horse Breeding Classes as well.


Judge Placement - DR122.13 & DR126.1g
Judges will not be required to sit together for classes which previously required this (e.g., Young Horse classes) and placement must allow for social distancing.


Scores & Scoresheets – DR123.2, .3, .10, .11 and .12
Rules have been modified so that scores may be sent electronically (e.g. via email or text) to competitors and/or posted via the internet. Scoresheets must still be provided to the competitor or his representative but these may be provided electronically after the class is concluded. Privacy must still be maintained.

Additionally, if a scoresheet is only made available after the competition day by electronic methods, competition management must allow for mathematical errors to be reported for 24 hours from the time of distribution. Scores will be corrected but class placements will not change.


Time Schedule & Ride Times – DR126.1b.3 and DR126.1b.4
The time schedule must be posted in electronic format and/or in an area where social distancing can be adhered to by noon the day before the competition (the posting/distribution method must be included in the prize list). Ride times may not be changed after noon the day before the start of the entire competition, except in compliance with GR830.5.

Flexibility with ride schedules must be allowed. Classes will not be required to run in their entirety and rides may be scheduled out of sequence. Consideration must still be given to riders entered in more than one class or riding more than one horse. Additionally, at least 50 minutes must still be scheduled between start times for a rider’s tests on different horses unless he/she has agreed, in writing, to a shorter interval between tests. Time intervals should be allowed between rides for judge’s breaks and awards presentations.


Musical Freestyles – DR129.6a and 6b
The competitor must provide the music in formats/methods specified within the prize list to the announcer at least two (2) hours prior to the start of the class. Please note that CDs are no longer required if the competition management wishes to use a different format. Riders are not permitted to have a representative in the sound system booth.


Awards Ceremonies – DR123.12
Placed horse and rider combinations cannot be required to participate in awards ceremonies. Awards ceremonies should be conducted to allow for social distancing. Rosettes will not be required to be placed on bridles.


DR 126 Requirements for Dressage Competition Management and Levels Chart:
Food & Beverages Spectator Services

Food/beverages services are optional for Level 1-3 competitions with the exception that bottled water must be available for Level 2 & 3 competitions (see Levels Chart) and recommended for Level 1 competitions. Additionally, spectator services are not required (per USEF Action Plan). Click here to see modifications made to the chart (found on pages 22 to 23).


Designated Judge/Rider Forms – DR125.8
The Designated Judge/Rider Evaluation forms will be suspended. USEF will contact competitors at random directly following a competition and request that the competitor complete the USEF Evaluation form via their My USEF Account.


Eligibility and Verification of Entries – DR127.2 & GR1035.2c
Technical Delegates are not required to check entries to verify competitor eligibility. Competitors are still required to be eligible and follow all rules for their Championship and/or Championship qualifying purposes. Per DR127.2, Competition secretaries of Federation Dressage Competitions are responsible to the Federation to ensure that horses in qualifying and championship classes are recorded in compliance with GR1102 and riders and owners are current members of the Federation and meet other requirements as set forth in the description of the Championship Classes, including that USDF membership and horse registration requirements are current.


Additional Information

For USEF guidance on conducting pony measurements, reference question number 8 in the Licensed Officials FAQ - COVID-19 Action Plan.


Timelines and Deadlines
Waivers to application submission dates and process timelines under the following rules shall be considered on a case-by-case basis.

  • GR302.1.d. - Holding application for more than 30 days.
  • GR302.1.h.1 - Date change less than 30 days from comp
  • GR302.1.h.1.b - Date change less than 240 days from comp
  • GR302.1.h.3 - Rating change less than 30
  • GR302.2.g.1 - Must submit eventing competition license 240 days prior to start of competition
  • GR306 - Inactive competitions
  • GR315.4.b - 240 day mileage deadline
  • GR315.4.d - 21 days PDH response
  • GR904 - Changes in Prize List
  • GR1212 - Prize Lists


Mileage Exemption Fee Waiver
The mileage exemption fee has not been waived. However, if a provisional denial is reviewed again at a later date, there is no additional mileage exemption fee.


Competition Cancellation Fee
The competition cancellation fee is waived for the remainder of the 2020 competition year.


If you have any questions regarding this modification to USEF rules, please contact Katlynn Sacco at [email protected].