Splitting divisions?

When divisions (like BN and N usually) get split due to the number of entries, do organizers try to group riders or horses by experience level, or is it strictly luck of the draw?

Last SBNR at a local event was split into A and B. The B group had no dressage scores worse than 40, whereas the A group had a good 1/3 over 40 pens.

I’m curious about this too. Also, how do organizers decide what divisions to offer? At a recent show I saw that Training was split into Open and Rider divisions, but all (3 or 4?) BN divisions were Open.

It really depends on the organizer. In my neck of the woods outside of Open or Rider, it is usually done first by age, then horse experience.

My last show was split and I’m still wondering how it was done, personally. My division was entirely pros except for me and I can’t decide if that was a fluke or not. The other divisions of the same level were a mix of amateurs and first-time horses.

It may be the reason for discrepancy in scoring was because of the judges. Sometimes divisions run with different judges. At the show I just mentioned a similar thing happened – my class was 20s-30s and the other division had a much tougher judge and the best score was something outrageous like a 38.

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oh yeah - good point!

Do organizers look up the records of every horse/rider, or do they go by what’s listed on the entry form under “horse and rider experience”? I’ve noticed that on electronic entries mine isn’t always accurate. But looking up everyone’s record seems insanely time-consuming.

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Where I have seen it done in recent years it has followed the preferences you list on your entry as well as the USEA rider/horse official record (I think for example xentry checks your eligibility automatically). So Novice might theoretically be split into Open, Senior Rider, Amateur, Open Junior, Junior Rider, or Horse. But realistically there are usually not enough entries to support that many sections. Most events around here choose in advance to offer Open and Jr and Sr Rider divisions, but sometimes they end up being combined (aka all open) because of numbers or because it’s the only way to make the schedule work.

Another factor on how divisions are split is scheduling and trying to avoid conflicts for riders with multiple horses which potentially makes trying to split division by experience a challenge.

It all depends on how the entries are distributed.

For instance, if there are enough juniors to make a viable division, they will have a separate Junior division, but if there are not quite enough juniors for a full division, they will add the youngest of the Adults, until they have enough. It will be CALLED “Open”, but will really be “juniors and young adults”.

I doubt that the secretary looks up individual records, but they usually have a pretty good idea of who are pros, who are experienced/successful, and who are inexperienced/ less successful, and try to group them together. So you may get one “Open” division that is mostly pros and experienced amateurs, and another “Open” division that is mostly less experienced riders (or horses).

Technically, it supposed to be split randomly, but it is pretty clear that often doesn’t happen.


EV 104.6 discusses division of entries for USEA. They can divide into any of the defined sections like Junior/Yr, Amateur, Rider, Horse, Open. But within each section, further division is supposed to be by draw.


Most don’t look up records, they go by what is listed on the entry form. Some might extrapolate data from USEA if the level required eligibility check. As far as I know, it’s mostly done by age, then experience - like Janet said, if they have enough younger riders but not enough for a separate Junior division, they tend to put them all in Open.

I don’t know a lot of events that truly do the splitting by draw. Looking over some more recent divisions, I definitely see some care was taken to try to lump certain groups with one another: IE young adults in one division, pros in another, SNR-non pros in a separate… Of course, my luck is I always get lumped in the tougher class… I remember a BN I had at Stoneleigh as a late teen, my grandparents came to watch and they were just floored that I was riding against two Olympians and a whole division of BNTs. Lol! They talked about it for years. Only in eventing do you get the chance to rub elbows with elites at the lower levels!


I was actually wondering how they split within divisions- SBNR A vs B for example. I’m guessing they don’t group more or less experienced horses/riders who qualify for that division.

I wish they did - I am seeing some BN groups with riders on ex prelim horses who have been top 5 in every competition at BN for over a year, and then riders like me with 4 yr old greenies.

One more incentive to get the heck out of BN and N! :joy:

(There’s a division for BN horse, and BN rider, but not both BN horse and rider… right? Not sure this show has enough entries for that additional division anyway)

That IS what I was talking about.


That’s what I was referring to but apologies if I didn’t explain it well. I was talking about splitting say, 80 count of BN (adult) riders and how organizers might do it.

Totally been in your shoes re: riders on ex-prelims while you’re debuting your first BN with your new partner. Pretty common at the lower levels!


I was wondering how they further split - say you have already split your 80 BN riders into SBNR, JBNR, OBN, etc, and each of those has too many, how do you decide who goes in SBNR A vs SBNR B?

The struggle is real! I hereby propose a new division: “SEU” for the green on green amateur combo :smiling_imp:

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Yes. That is what I was talking about. I was referring to splitting “Open”, but the same principles are applied to splitting “Rider” or “Horse”.

I just wish there were enough competitors to fill an “over 60” division - then I could ride against my peers :wink:


An organizer can specifically offer a division for BN Horse and Rider, but there are rarely enough to fill.
But if the secretary needs to split BN Horse into two division, they can, and do, put the ones that are also eligible for BN Rider into the same section of BN Horse.

How is it a “struggle”? The course is the same no matter who else is in your section.

And, believe me, if an experienced/upper level rider is taking a horse at BN, the horse is probably REALLY green, or has a known problem, and you have a good chance of doing better than them.


I was kidding. :joy:

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I’m not Xanthoria, and I recognize that comment was tongue in cheek but…I suppose the struggle is in relation to the large skill gap. It’s not like a BNT’s experience and skill is leveled out when on a green horse. They’re still just as skilled, and probably on a better horse than the average amateur.

I wouldn’t necessarily assume the horse is super green either. BNTs here start at BN with their client horses, who came over from across the pond and were doing fox hunting and/or BE-Novice. Those horses have a lot of mileage between their former home and the pro riding it. They might be green to the venue but they are in no way “green” the way an amateur bringing along their own project horse is “green”.

Don’t get me wrong, part of eventing is competing against your peers and there is nothing more rewarding than holding your own in a class of professionals when you’re just a floppy amateur. I don’t mind it, but I wouldn’t hate it either if there were (more) amateur divisions (some unrecognized near me do this). I would love the opportunity to ride against people in my skill class.

There are some destination events here you can go to and be stacked up against all of Area 1’s very best professional riders (example: GMHA or Fitches Corner), but then there are the smaller venues like Pipestave and Stoneleigh (no longer recognized) where the divisions are mostly comprised of average riders and people at the bottom of the sport. So knowing your venue and the crowd it attracts is also important.