How is this legal? 4 y/o showing 4th level

Super disturbed to see a sale ad on Facebook this week advertising a 4 year old showing 4th level (with scores from a recognized show). Any comments made pointing out that USEF rules require a horse to be 6 years old to show 4th level are being deleted by the seller.

Horses competing in the following tests and levels must meet the following minimum age requirements per FEI rules: FEI Children/Pony/Junior and Fourth level tests: minimum six (6) years; Young Riders/Prix St. Georges/Intermediate I: minimum seven (7) years; tests above Intermediate I: minimum eight (8) years.

How is this happening with no repercussions? I"m sure no one from their classes in the show will file a complaint because the horse was last in it’s classes, but this is still wrong on so many levels.


Turning a blind eye, it was just missed on paperwork, someone lied about the horse’s age on paperwork. Who knows. Hopefully someone reports it to USEF.


The horse is registered with USEF/USDF as being born in 2018, so my assumption is the show secretary just didn’t notice, but I can’t believe the seller is still loudly and proudly proclaiming about breaking the rules.


Well, unless the software the show is using is programmed to catch the age of the horse - I can see how the show secretary may have missed it. I also don’t think most programs that shows use for membership/recording verification is set to catch underage horses, especially for shows that are not CDIs.

But there is no excuse for the seller to be continuing to advertise their rule breaking, particularly after it was pointed out to them multiple times.

And a 4YO doing competition level 4th?? Good luck with the long time soundness of that horse.


I’m super confused. How do you even get that much training into a four year old? I know most people back horses when they’re 3 or 4, with some of them at 2. Even if you did start them at 2, my brain can’t figure out how I’d be able to train them up through 4th level within 2 years.


I was wondering the same… OP… Can you indulge us with a link of this ad, even DMed? I’m thinking this must be a naturally talented and generous horse, hoping he gets some downtime in his new home so he can continue to be a superstar as his career progresses.


It’s an OTTB, and it appears the trainer first marketed the horse for sale last December, so she’s had it about a year and apparently taken it from track broke to showing 4th level in 12 months. I certainly don’t believe any 4 year old is mentally or physically mature enough to be doing 4th level, hence the USEF age limitations.


I can’t seem to get a link for the direct post, but it’s the most recent one here:

This is a public FB page and she is “proudly” offering this horse for sale, so can’t imagine anyone would object to the link being shared.

I have seen several comments questioning the age of the horse vs the level she is showing at, and the trainer has deleted them all.

edited to add after I posted this, the seller edited the post in question from several days ago to remove the mention of 4th level (which you can still see by viewing the edit history) and posted a new version of his ad omitting that information. You can look the horse up in Fox Village to see his results at 4th level, if you can’t navigate the edit history on her older FB post or if she deletes that too.


Sellers don’t always tell the truth.


I’m operating under the assumption that the information in the USEF/USDF databases is true, since it’s an OTTB that presumably has Jockey Club papers. Not sure how it would benefit the seller to misrepresent the horse as younger than it actually is, especially since she has no issue flaunting his show results.


The legality is, um, WTF is that person thinking?

OTOH, if you watch the test, that’s a lovely 4yo loping along without a care in the world, going sideways and sort of doing some transitions and changes sort of on the aids kind of, but nowhere near what we would ordinarily think of as truly confirmed at 4th. For example collection? Isn’t there supposed to be some? Bueller? lol

That horse is going to make some ammy a very happy owner and probably with time will actually come to be able to do the movements in a collected/extended fashion once he has an idea about sitting and has had time to build up the muscle.

Would any of us here market that horse as confirmed at 4th? I sure hope not. But, I also don’t think anything shown in that test is doing that horse any harm. If he were truly sitting, or were scrunched into a compact profile, I’d have an issue, but that horse is just showing that a couple of the tricks are pretty easy, he’s steady with age-appropriate gaits, and truly doesn’t give a rat’s about show atmosphere.

And lastly, yup, some horses really are that easy to train. I’ve had a couple and it’s always been a matter of playing with the tricks a bit for fun, but waiting for the physical maturity to catch up with the athleticism and rock-solid brain. Super fun horses - they just don’t care about much except doing their job and having fun with their riders.


He looks like a doll. If it’s against the rules for him to show at that level at that age, we’ll then that’s the rules. But gosh he looks like a cool horse for an ammy wanting a mid level horse.


Agree with your comments re the horse and the video. If I were in the market, I’d look at him because of his brain, he’s pretty and looks capable.
The rule is oddly written, I was not under the impression that FEI oversees 4th level, as it is not an “international” level.


And yet the horse is receiving 60%+ scores at the level, which most people would consider competence. I guess judging inconsistencies and insanity would need to be it’s own thread!


Legality aside, I think this is a fair take. I have to imagine the seller knows he’s not really doing the movements correctly - this was probably more a marketing “stunt” than anything to try and “show potential”. Is teaching him to artificially shorten his stride instead of sitting and actually collecting going to bite them in the rear down the road in his training… maybe. I have to admit though, when I clicked on the link I expected to see something far worse.


It’s not uncommon for someone to take a talented horse and “fake it” to get a high price. This horse is really nice and doing the tricks without true collection. A hunter at this age may be able to do the same movements. Whether he is harmed physically is a question to be asked, but since he’s not truly collected he may be fine. This is something I have seen before, here and in Europe.


But the fact remains this is against USEF rules and yet she’s showing USEF and marketing his results with apparently zero repercussions.


True, and that’s something that should be reported. If you feel strongly enough about it to publicly complain and identify her, you can alert USEF. I’m not saying this to be snarky.


You imply you’re concerned about the legality of this as well as about the horse himself.
So report the ad and the seller to the USDF/USEF. Reporting things is simple on FB. Report to the proper organization.
Or buy the horse, take him out of training for awhile to let him be a horse, then bring him back on a correct schedule.


I did, but they haven’t responded. Thought it might be helpful if they saw more than one person concerned about this.