2021 USEA Rule Change- SJ Faults/Penalties

USEA has posted a “rule refresher” for proposed 2021 rule changes.

Help me out here- what is the difference between EV150 and EV153? What is the difference between a fault and a penalty?

Is this the same rule, but they are displaying it under two subheadings in the rule book?

I believe EV150 is just a further reference of EV153.

I’m going to copy/paste what I wrote on the USEA Facebook post about it, because this truly doesn’t make much sense to me:
I don’t understand the stadium penalty compulsory retirement rule if there’s no rule stating that stadium MUST go before XC. Looking at the full proposal (https://useventing.com/resources/documents/USEA-Rule-Change-Proposals-Dec-10-2020.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0fpZGschBrtGD-BsHPpF9Yh_vSQRM8W8ZJCwmiE3n25hfRxWSvO2B6emE) it states “This should be equally applied regardless of whether SJ or XC occur first in the schedule of the competition.” So essentially in competitions where stadium is first, the competitor is not allowed to continue to XC. But in competitions where XC is first, the competitor (which this rule has deemed unsafe?) is still allowed to run XC but is simply not allowed to finish on a number score. This makes no sense. And it’s not a safety measure to prevent from move-ups because there is nothing in the MERs about retirements and the MERs already require no more than 16 penalty points in stadium.


You’re right that the point is lost a bit when stadium runs last. But, if they didn’t make it work both ways that would perhaps encourage someone with a bad stadium jumper to seek out horse trials where XC runs first. They just have to keep the rule consistent.

I was curious and looked up a few horses I know who are notoriously bad stadium jumpers. Two I am thinking of are absolute beasts XC, but very casual in stadium. Both these horses are now retired, but competed up to 2* and Advanced respectively. They would have been eliminated at several shows! The Advanced horse, I imagine, never would have gone past Training or Prelim because the rider probably would have given up on him!

I’m not saying it’s a bad rule at all. We’ve all seen too many horses bomb around stadium unsafely. It was just interesting to look up records and see what would have been different.

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EV 150 specifies what gets penalized (e.g. it has a detailed description of what constitutes a run out), but does not say how many penalty points go with each.

EV 153 specifies how many penalty points go with each fault (e.g. 4 points for the first disobedience)

Yes, they could have just put the Compulsory Retirement stuff in 153, not 150. My guess is that they wanted to put it in both places so no one would miss it.

With regard to imposing the CR penalty even when SJ happens last, this was discussed in detail at the (virtual) rules change session at the (virtual) USEA Annual Meeting (and should be available on the web site). The rationale (and I am not saying I agree with it, just explaining it) is to be “fair” with regard to year end awards (NOT for safety). If the CR were ONLY applied when SJ is first, then a rider with 20 SJ jump penalties in a D-XC-SJ HT would finish wilth score (and possibly a placing if the division were small), and the rider with 20 SJ jump penalties in a D-SJ-XC HTwould finish with a letter (and no placing). This would give the first rider an (unfair?) advantage in any kind of year end standing

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Thanks for the additional context, @Janet. I understand the spirit of the rule and am all for rules that make this sport safer, this one just seems poorly implemented IMO. If the organization is making a stance that riders with 20 or more SJ penalty points pose a greater risk of serious injury, we should be finding a way to alter competitions so that this can actually make a difference across the board. I understand the history and context of SJ being last, but this particular scenario just feels half-assed to me. It’s strange to me that the direction this took ended up being more about year end awards than safety. I’ll have to check out the video of the discussion this weekend.

I do think it’s interesting and would love to see more of the statistics. There’s a horse in our barn who routinely has tons of rails down (12-16 points is a normal SJ round for him), but I don’t think he’s ever had an XC jumping penalty. He’s going Training now, but was the same at Novice.

It’s not really about the XC penalties though, it’s more about horses who can’t be bothered to pick their feet up when they’re supposed to :joy:


They have taken this rule from the UK - having lived with this rule and been a victim of it once or twice, then you just suck it up. Once at my first prelim I was compulsory retired and tbh it was the right thing. I then worked a lot harder on my sjing and it didn’t happen again. The other one was at a 100 and the horse was just lousy at showjumping. I sent him to a pro sjer who had him for 2 weeks and said yeah you might improve it but it wont ever be great. Stop trying to fit a round peg in a square hole so he went hunting.

Both times it happened I was pretty devastated but I totally understood the reasoning and it was an impetus for me to go away and work harder.

The cusp in the UK is 24 faults. Out of a course of 12-14 jumping efforts that feels fair that you should clear 50%.

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I don’t actually object per se–at 20 faults, you should probably call it a day anyway most of the time, though of course there are always exceptions. My concern is that this is part of yet another push to overweight the SJ and to put it before the XC. Just something we should keep in the back of our minds as the sport evolves to favour the pros.