Need information about current Amateur rules for Grand Prix/international/Olympic competition?

I was trying to write a story about a Re-Rider and Open Jumpers and realized that I have ZERO idea about current rules regarding who is eligible for the Olympics, etc. and what makes an Amateur or is that even a thing anymore? I’m pretty sure the people I see competing internationally now are making their living off of horses. ;-D Can an adult amateur who is riding someone else’s horse get paid or get any of the earnings if it were a Grand Prix (for example)? Can an amateur compete in the Ammy jumper classes and then in a Grand Prix? Or do they have to stick to all open classes if they want to go in the GP? What are the rules for who is eligible for the Olympics? I have googled and googled and am not any wiser. Were there any shows in CA last year? Or say points close by enough to drive? Thank you for your help!

At the national level, competition for adults is divided into amateur and open. Anyone can go in open. Amateur excludes anyone who earns money teaching or training, including very modest kiddy lesson coaches. I don’t think winning prize money violates an amateur status.

Olympic hopefuls compete on a different level, at FEI completions. The FEI keeps a list of where people rank worldwide.

By and large, each nation chooses the riders who are most highly ranked in the FEI. This means the Olympics are not the best competing against the best.

For instance in dressage, Germany and the Netherlands dominate the top 30 world wide slots. Germany could probably pick world #1, #2, #3 and #4 for its team. In Canada on the other hand, the very top dressage rider might be world #140. So the competition is very unequal.

My guess is the amateur versus open distinction doesn’t exist at the FEI level.

You can look up the ammie rules for nation USEF competition online. Also the rules for how you can cross enter classes. Usually it’s about the horse. You could take one green horse in the 2 foot 6 baby class and another horse in the 4 foot Amateur Owner for instance, but not the same horse in both (that’s an invented example, look up USEF rules and show prize books for accuracy).

An amateur can compete both amateur and open classes. There is no class closed to amateurs or that makes you lose amateur status.

Nobody pro or ammie is going to make the Olympic team competing just in USEF shows.

I believe HITS outside Palm Springs ran last winter, also the Florida circuit.

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Olympics used to be amateurs, but no more.

California ran shows through about mid-March 2020. Rain initially shut down Thermal before Covid did shortly thereafter. Shows started back up in June and ran through the end of the year, but there was some shuffling of the normal calendar and they didn’t run Vegas show in November. I don’t think there were any USEF HJ shows in LA county until 2021, so some of those dates got moved to different venues.


As Peggy said, there hasn’t been an amateur restriction for the Olympics since the 1990s. That said, I do not know if it’s the ioc or particular national federations, but like Edwina tops was posting the other day that due to XYZ rules she wouldn’t be mentioning sponsors on social media until after the Olympics. So that’s either an ioc rule, or a Australian national federation rule restricting promotion of sponsors in Olympic athletes social media posts in and around the Olympics.


It must be a short time frame because Boyd Martin just did nice long individual posts for each of his major sponsors over the last week or so.

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Thank you everyone, that is a big help!

There’s some sort of a rule about sponsors at the event. Maybe it’s an FEI rule? No sponsor logos on saddle pads, no prefixes. For example Michael Jung’s La Biosthetique-Sam FBW became just Sam, or maybe Sam FBW at WEG in 2010, IIRC. So you can have sponsors, but not show sponsor info at the event, or while competing, or something???

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I wonder if that rule is still in place. There is a thread in the dressage forum about the new orange jackets for the Dutch team, and they very clearly say Pikeur on the chest, as well as on the breeches. Maybe those are not the exact same outfits they will wear for the Olympics.

Uniforms can be sponsored and have been for a long time. The team is sponsored–not the individual athlete when it comes to the games. Hermes has been the uniform sponsor for the US team in the past (haven’t looked at this year). I think there are some logo display / size requirements maybe.


Yes, it was very recent, like yesterday. So my presumption is that the prohibition on individual athlete sponsor mentions kicks in probably as soon as opening ceremonies begin, or the athletes are in country, or something to that effect. Which is probably also why Boyd was doing a big thank you this week.

Team sponsors are different than individual athlete sponsors.

Yes, there are always logo size restrictions.

The color restriction is another one that is just been lifted to any solid color rather than me any solid darker color.

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A wealthy amateur could theoretically go to the olympics. You can make money buying and selling horses as long as they’re your own. You wouldn’t have individual sponsors however. So someone like Springsteen or Eve Jobs could theoretically maintain amateur status if they wanted to but it doesnt matter much at that point so no reason to maintain the official status.

The sponsor thing is across the olympics. I believe it affected the golfers quite a bit as some of them are very heavily sponsored.

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The rules for amateur involvement in the Olympics seem to vary by sport.

Horse pros compete.

In hockey, Team Canada puts together an all star team by calling in all the dudes with Canadian citizenship spread out across the NHL in Canada and the USA.

Then there are sports that have no real possibility of pro status but might get you some promo opportunities later (shot put comes to mind).

I have no idea how it plays out in other sports. It used to be that Olympic figure skaters couldn’t join the Ice Capades (do these even exist anymore?) until they retired from competition. Etc.

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That is a relatively recent development in the big picture. It used to be that riders had to be amateurs, or at least had to say that they were amateurs, until the last 30 or 40 years.

I believe that’s why Rodney Jenkins never went to the Olympics. The story goes that early on, somebody asked him if he was a professional or an amateur, and he answered that he was a professional without realizing why the question had come up.

By the time the rule changed, he was getting towards the end of his riding career, and he did not have a horse that qualified for the Olympics, although I think he did get a medal at the Pan Am games before he retired.

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The move from all amateur Olympics occurred in the 1990s. At one point Ian Miller was going pro in the early '90s and was essentially saying hey I’m going to retire from Olympic competition. This happened with a number of professionals because being an amateur is really complicated so there’s no longer an amateur restriction on the olympics. It happened in the 1990s. That’s when you saw all the American basketball players baseball players etc, and again all horse professionals who would otherwise have had to not compete in the Olympics now it’s not a thing. 1990s.

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2008 Olympics, German dentist Hinrich Romeike riding his only horse, the wonderful grey Marius, won double gold in Eventing. An amazing partnership and a joy to watch. It can done but now the exception.

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There are really a number of amateurs who ride in the olympics, because the FEI rules for amateur status are quite different from the USEF rules for amateurs.

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the rule is still in place. You can have team sponsor(s) but individual sponsors or logo-wear prohibited. I noticed one of our archers has taped over a logo on her billed hat. I assume when competition opens she might change to a USA Team provided hat. Not sure I noticed a hat in their kit. Hats are pretty personal , individual to the shooters as it must fit in with their personal shooting form. Logos and maker names are common to archery equipment and this is permitted. This is written in to World Archery rules.


Vox just did an interesting pieces that goes into the sponsorship regulations at the Olympics in a fair amount of detail:

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That was very interesting (and pretty sad really). Thank you all! In my story the rider was an up and coming rider in her 20s with the show world at her feet so to speak then… trauma, drama, etc. takes her away from it until she is late 30s and gets back into it. The horses are supplied by her friend who is a breeder while she does the training/riding. The story is as much about the difficult horse looking for the right rider to take him to glory and all that. Would it be realistic for the expenses to be taken off the top and then the prize money split between them equally? I don’t know how much riders generally get paid for riding sponsors horses. There is no other sponsorship stuff going on. And not other peoples’ horses involved.

One more question! Is there a comparable winter circuit in CA (and close by) like HITS in Ocala and Wellington? Or do the CA riders have to come East to get the big moolah?