For the love of Modified!

We finally got the chance to compete at Modified this past weekend and both my horse and I had a wonderful time! He’s 7 and super accomplished at Training, even a bit bored, but still needs mileage and experience before he goes Preliminary. The Modified we ran was asking very similar questions to the Prelim I ran on my older horse, but with level-appropriate softening of the size and difficulty. Modified also got a huge entry- 3 divisions and close to 60 horses.

Of course, now I want Modified at every show! I think it helps enormously with rider and horse prep for prelim and is also a super realistic “big time” level for a lot of folks to achieve as an end goal.

I’m all in to help this level grow! Any signs it is? Even in Area III, it’s really only at the big events.


Could not agree more!

I agree, and this is a really big deal. I’ve posted before about my experience with Modified - my horse and I were confidently running at Training, and like you, maybe getting a bit bored. Ran a Modified with her, and though we were clear it helped me realize that we had some things to work on before we went Prelim. Worked on those things for a winter, ran another Modified and smoked around, which told me she was ready for Prelim. Moved her up to Prelim, and she was fabulous - super confident and comfortable with the questions (which is not to say it was entirely smooth, but it was clear we were in the right division).

It’s really important to stress that the holes that showed at Modified did not show at Training. It’s also important to stress that while we weren’t punished for those holes at Modified, we absolutely would have been at Prelim. To me, that makes Modified the definition of an important experience. I firmly believe that having that level available to us not only made us better, it made us safer.

Unfortunately for organizers, many riders use it (quite rightly) as a stepping stone between the two levels, and as a result I don’t see many people staying at the level for long. In smaller areas, this can mean that perhaps the divisions are thinner, and I worry that organizers will take that to mean it’s not an important offering when in fact it’s the exact opposite - Modified is so important that when it does it’s job effectively, you don’t see riders hanging around at the level because they have moved up. I hope organizers realize what a big difference this level makes to people trying to make their way up to Prelim, especially for the first time for horse/rider. So glad to hear your divisions were full!


I love Modified too - my young horse did 3 of them at different venues and came away so much more educated and ready for a successful Prelim debut! In addition to the XC fences and technical questions, I really liked the faster XC speed so we could work on starting to really gallop between the fences.

I agree that a lot of people are using it as a stepping stone, but I could also see some riders/horses who may not want to ever go Prelim enjoying a bit more of a challenge than Training. I’m hopeful that it will continue to grow in all areas - I have seen it offered as a Modified/Training division a few places that haven’t been able to update XC jumps just yet.

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From discussions I have had with organizers- the issue is that, if you offer Modified, you do not get a larger number of TOTAL entries. The new entries at Modified are mostly people who otherwise would have run Training or Prelim, not people who would have gone to a different event. So the organizer spends $10,000 + on a new course, but has no additional income with which to pay for it.


That makes sense, and is a perfectly reasonable concern from the organizer’s perspective (plus the hassle/expense of another set of ribbons, switching around volunteers/judges/etc for new course/tests, etc). As a competitor though, it made a big difference for me and my horse - so much so that despite my mare now running at Prelim, I would definitely be interested in participating in some sort of support/subsidy scheme to support the organizers who host Modifieds, because I really do believe it is to the long-term benefit of the sport. Ideas?


I don’t know if this is necessarily true. Several examples come to mind, if I have a young horse who I want to move up to Prelim, I would choose running a modified first, OVER a soft Prelim somewhere else. If I’m a Training Level Rider wanting something more challenging I would choose a Modified venue further away than the closer venue just to run Training again. Again, (I’ve repeated this before) this may be a location bias, but when it comes to choosing the venue I’m going to go to the one that has the best amenities for my goals. The trainers will bring their students to the venue which offers the best courses and amenities.

The same goes for good footing, stabling, organization. I “think” that the venues which offer the level will have riders & pros alike choose their venues. The same horses aren’t going to every single event, you choose the ones that best fit their goals. THis past weekend Stableview had 3 divisions, it was a huge competition to start with, but a great competitive division with a good course. We go back here because the courses are fair, the footing is pristine, etc. etc.

Again, if you are in an area with one or two events in a 10-hour radius, maybe all of the riders just go to these two. But, on the east coast I would presume riders make more decisions not just which show is running that weekend, but which competition offers the best outcome for their goals within the season.


Oh, that is interesting. We would have been there running Training, so that makes sense on the total entries parity. OTOH, I was on USEA’s page filtering for events that offer Modified today with the thought to travel a bit more to enter events that offer the level.

I agree that it really helps the horse and rider that have the intent to move to Prelim without being punishing. Having moved horses up before, it’s just something that you can only school for so much. It feels like Modified could be a really meaningful piece of the safety puzzle USEA is trying to solve.

I also wonder if right now it is seen as a transition level but, as it matures, it will become more of a destination. I think there’s a lot of folks looking for something more challenging than Training but don’t necessarily want, or should, be competing at Preliminary.

I think a USEA subsidy/donation pool to help events with the space to include a modified track is a great idea. I was on the board of a club that did it early and we saw it as an investment to differentiate the event to make it more of a destination, as well as an important opportunity for our membership for all the reasons we’ve discussed. It was a big fundraising lift for us and certainly a challenge for many organizers to do.


I would think so too. But this was from an organizer in the middle of Area II, who had been consulting with someone who is involved (in various capacities) with a large number of Horse Trials in Area II.

It’s still such a new level and people aren’t really sure who has it yet. I think the organizers would have a better idea after another year or two or running them. It needs time to get noticed and experienced.

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I love modified too!

For all the reasons Marigold mentions. It helps you school the skills you will need to answer the questions at prelim safely and confidently.

My horse has now done more modifieds (>12) than trainings, and I absolutely traveled to events I otherwise wouldn’t have to find it. It wasn’t my goal at the outset to do that many, but each one was better mileage for him at that time in his career than training would have been. And his eventual prelim move-up felt much more solid than the other horses I’ve moved up from training.

He has started each of his last 3 seasons at modified before going prelim, as a tune-up, and will probably continue to do so for the foreseeable, as he is usually takes a couple runs to settle in.


Personally, I’d be happy staying at Modified for the rest of my career. I’ve done 30+ Trainings and two T3Ds (placing in top three both times) with the same horse and could never get through Prelim successfully. We were flawless in SJ and dressage, completely bored on XC so on paper we had the capability to do it, but mentally I couldn’t because Prelim speed scares the hell out of me (as I’m sure it does others) and the margin for error is so slim.

I suggested about 5 years ago at the Southern Eighths T3D (that year USEA just started offering Modified) that it would be brilliant to do a Modified 3 Day as the P3D was a dying division. Now that it’s available, I’m hoping ammies actually enter it so it’s not all pros on their $70k imported six year olds. :woman_facepalming:t3::joy:


I know several people, including myself, who would probably still be competing one of their horses if Modified was offered within the area. Instead I decided to just not event that horse at all anymore, since Training got boring but Prelim was too much, and just focus on the young one.


I have a question about what modified actually is. Queeny Park offers a modified in area 4. I THINK it is a mostly training course with maybe 4-5 jumps that are actually modified. so if you run training, you have jumped most of the jumps on the modified. I honestly don’t think it is a completely new course. Why I am asking is I would like to see what it would take to get our local park a modified level.

I stand corrected. Modified shared 6 of the training jumps and the rest were modified. So it is a financial undertaking for a park.

I hope you completed your event evaluation and shared your enthusiasm for the division. The feedback will go to both the organizer and to USEA, and will only help the cause. It’s a great division and one that warrants support in development all over the country! It’s my observation that it’s growing in the larger areas (Areas II, III) but not so much in others (Area V, for example).

Some of the early Modified courses I saw in Area II shared a lot of jumps with Training and a few with Prelim (some of the non-max height Prelim jumps) but over time they added more Modified jumps so now they generally only share a few fences. I don’t know if there is a minimum number of jumps that need to be unique to a course?

In my experience, Modified is a combination of Training-sized fences arranged in Prelim-style technicality, or Prelim-sized fences (slightly smaller in order to be regulation, but many fences on Prelim courses are not absolute maxed height) as standalone fences. It helps introduce the horses to more height, and more technicality, but not at the same time.

To do this, events may have to dedicate some fences to the Modified course alone, but assuming they have a few spare fences for each level in their inventory, they don’t tend to have to build entirely new jumps unless they want to. Hoping I explained that relatively clearly…


Really hoping Ontario events take on this new level. Really would help with the jump to Prelim. I only know of 2 that held it, and didn’t know until it was too late to enter. I noticed a few events ran a T/P division, but the EV105 would be amazing to have!

I think we are at 3 now? All in the East end.

Stevens Creek

Anyone else?

For EV105 I only knew of the ones out east. For the venues holding the T/P, Bronte Creek, Glen Arden and Wits End all help that division which is just as great.

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That is ABSOLUTELY NOT what Modified is supposed to be.

The max height fences from the existing Training course are usually very straightforward. Conversely, the fences from the existing Prelim course that are 3’5" or less are usually HIGHLY TECHNICAL.

What you want for a Modified course are straightforward fences at 3’5", and technical fences that are under 3’5"