US Equestrian Federation Extends COVID-19 Related Rule Modifications

Many of the COVID-19-related rule modifications implemented for the 2020 competition year have been reissued and will be effective December 1, 2020, through November 30, 2021.

As we near the beginning of the 2021 competition year, it is evident that the effects of the pandemic will be ongoing for some time. In its continuing efforts to provide necessary flexibility without sacrificing safety and welfare, US Equestrian will continue to modify certain USEF rules throughout the 2021 competition year. Doing so allows USEF competitions and events to be as safe as possible while still complying with rules and regulations that provide for a fair and level playing field.

Continuing Modifications to USEF Rules

Many of the COVID-19-related rule modifications implemented for the 2020 competition year have been reissued and will be effective December 1, 2020, through November 30, 2021. A brief summary of the 89 rule modifications is listed below, and the full content for each can be viewed by clicking here. If necessary, additional rule modifications will be reviewed and published when approved.

Modifications Applicable to Competition Management – Licensing & Class Procedure

Competition Licensing – General Modifications to GR302, GR306, GR315.4, GR904, and GR1212

  • Waivers to the competition application submission dates and process timelines that were considered on a case-by-case basis through 2020 will continue in 2021.
  • The competition cancellation fee will be waived for competitions that have to cancel due to COVID-19 in 2021.

COVID-19 Related Competition Venue ChangesGR302

  • The rules governing license modifications involving a COVID-19-related change of venue that causes a mileage conflict have been modified to allow the CEO to review the Licensee’s request to maintain Priority Date Status at the new location.

USEF Entry Blank – GR908.5 and GR908.6 and GR916

All breeds/disciplines

Food and Beverage GR1216, DR126.3, HJ105.1, and HJ107

All Breeds/Disciplines; additional specifics for Dressage, Hunter, Jumper, and 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.

Jogging, Conformation, and Model HU118.3, HU121, HU130.d, HU136.7, HU123.6, AR159.5, MO145.2, and MO146.6

Hunter, H/J, Arabian and Morgan

  • Jogging – The traditional manner of jogging for soundness in hunter classes is waived, and horses and ponies will 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 in the Three-Year-Old Hunter section. If model or conformation classes are held, handlers must comply with social distancing requirements.
  • 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 requirements.

Hunter and H/J Licensed Competition Procedures

Hunter and H/J Licensed Competitions

  • Horse Entry Standard – HJ101.2, HJ104.8, HJ109.2, HJ110.2, HJ111.2, HJ112.1, and HJ113.1
  • Modifies the existing rule to waive the Horse Entry Standard for Premier, National, Two-Day Restricted Junior Amateur, Regional I and Regional II hunter rated competitions. Competitions will not be reclassified to a lower rating based on the Horse Entry Standard.
  • Hunter Prize Money – HJ109
  • Premier and National hunter-rated competitions must continue to offer the minimum required prize money in rated sections, but if sections are cancelled or don’t fill sufficiently to award all prize money, competitions will not be required to pool and redistribute unawarded prize money.
  • Combining and Dividing of Sections or Classes – HU155.3, HU158.3, and HU162
  • Rules governing under-saddle and model classes have been modified and allow for dividing and splitting to ensure compliance with social distancing requirements.
  • Paramedic Requirement – HJ105.1
  • If the services of a Paramedic cannot be secured for a Premier hunter-rated competition, an EMT may be substituted.

Dressage Procedures DR122.13, DR123, DR126, DR125.8, and DR129.6

Dressage Competitions

  • Judges’ areas must be configured in a manner that complies with social distancing requirements in accordance with the USEF Action Plan for Licensed Competitions.
  • Participation in awards ceremonies is not mandated, and if awards ceremonies are held, they must adhere to social distancing requirements.
  • Time schedules must be provided in electronic format or posted in a manner that ensures social distancing can be maintained. Additionally, flexibility with ride schedules must be allowed.
  • Waives the requirement for the fence at Letter A to be closed for Federation/USEF Championship Classes
  • Waives requirement for judges to sit together for classes which previously required this (e.g., Young Horse classes), and their placement must allow for social distancing
  • 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 competitors but may be provided electronically after the class is concluded, and privacy must be maintained.
  • Freestyle music must be provided to the announcer at least two (2) hours prior to the start of the class in the format/method specified (CDs no longer required) and riders are not permitted to have a representative in the sound system booth.

Paso Fino Procedures PF111, PF117, PF119, PF121, PF138, PF142, and PF155

Paso Fino Competitions

  • Implement 12-foot distance between competitors in the line-up to support social distancing requirements.
  • Hoof inspection panel at Grand National Championship show must comply with social distancing requirements.
  • If mounting blocks are used, competition management must implement sanitizing protocols between each use.

Vaulting Procedures – VA109.8, VA110.1, VA111.1, VA112.1, VA116.5, VA109.4, VA120.4, VA122, and VA126.7

Vaulting Competitions

  • Modifies rules to comply with social distancing requirements by eliminating official timer’s position and removing requirement for athletes to salute the Chief Judge
  • Time allowed will be adjusted to allow for the horse to be stopped between each vaulter’s compulsory performance in order to clean and sanitize the equipment.
  • Provides an exception to the Unauthorized Assistance rule for those individuals who are assisting with the cleaning and sanitizing of equipment
  • The rules for team and individual Compulsories, Pas De Deux events, as well as individual Freestyles have been modified to allow for the horse to be stopped between each vaulter’s or PDD’s performance in order to sanitize equipment.

Modifications Applicable to Licensed Officials

Officiating Limitations for Stewards, Technical Delegates, and Judges – GR1034 and GR1039

  • The rules limiting the number of times a Steward, Technical Delegate or Judge could officiate within a specific area or at a specific competition within a certain period of time have been waived for 2021.

Equipment Inspections AR246.20.c, DR121, DR126.2, DR206.8, PF101.5, PF127.3, RN103.3, RN103.17, WD120.1, and WD124.3

Arabian, Dressage, Paso Fino, Reining, and Western Dressage

  • Rules have been modified to mandate that all horse, tack, and equipment inspections are performed visually.

Scores, Scoresheets, and Officials’ Signatures on Accident Preparedness PlanGR1033, DR123, and HJ105

All Breeds/Disciplines and Dressage, Hunter, Jumper, and H/J Licensed Competitions

  • Rules have been modified to allow for score submission and scoresheet distribution to occur electronically (including by use of cell phones) and/or posted via the internet, as well as signed by use of a stamp rather than by hand.
  • Rules regarding distribution of and method of signature for the Accident Preparedness Plan have been modified to minimize the resist of virus transmission through physical handling of paper.

Other Modifications Specific to DressageDR125.8, DR127.2, and GR1035.2.c

Dressage Competitions

  • Evaluations by Designated Judges and Designated Riders is suspended. USEF will contact competitors at random after each competition and request completion of the USEF Evaluation form online through their USEF membership account.
  • Waives the requirement for Technical Delegates to manually check entries and verify competitor eligibility on site

Modifications Applicable to Participants & Licensed Officials

Equine Drugs and Medication Report Forms GR411, GR414, GR1034, and GR1207

All Breeds/Disciplines

  • In order to minimize the risk of virus transmission through the physical handling of paper, all USEF Medication Report Forms must be submitted electronically unless online submission is absolutely impossible.

Braiding Requirements – HK116, HK143, HU147, HU148, and SP111

Hackney, Hunter (Ladies Side Saddle), and Shetland

  • The rules requiring braiding have been waived or modified accordingly.

To access full details related to these 2021 rule modifications, please click here.

  • For questions related to rule modifications applicable to competition organizers, please contact Katlynn Sacco at [email protected].
  • For questions related to rule modifications applicable to licensed officials, please contact Alina Brazzil at [email protected].
  • Please direct any other questions related to these rule modifications to [email protected].




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