Start time rules

Can someone more familiar with the USEA rule book explain what the rules are around starting time if a show is running ahead of schedule?

I thought if they are early you still have the option of waiting to go at your scheduled time. I know this is true for XC but not sure for stadium since that’s an approximate start time.

I scanned the guidebook but couldn’t find the section.

This weekend I was at a schooling show and they were 30 mins ahead of schedule but didn’t communicate it very well. When I started tacking up I heard my name over the intercom and “standby”. Then a couple mins later they were calling me to the arena for my round! I rushed to get to the wam up and quickly jumped each fence once then had to hurry to the arena. The in gate person was threatening to disqualify me if I didn’t hurry. I was so rushed and frazzled that I was too tense in the reins and we ended up having 3 stops so I decided to retire.

In hindsight I’m pretty annoyed at how they handled that especially considering it was a SCHOOLING show and they were allowing all sorts of transgressions like people skipping jumps.

I didn’t expect them to wait until the published time for my round but they could have at least allowed me proper time to get warmed up especially since I was only doing CT and we had done dressage several hours before and needed time to loosen up.

Hopefully someone who is good at finding things in the rules can give you an official answer. The way I understand it (as a volunteer in that area frequently) is that I can not make you go in before your time. I can ask you to go in early, you can volunteer to go in early, but I can not make you go in.

I am sorry that your schooling opportunity was ruined by their lack of communication.


From EV154 Eliminations

  1. Elimination is left to the discretion of the Ground Jury in the following cases:
    a. not entering the arena when the competitor’s name and/or number is called.
    b. not entering the arena mounted or not leaving the arena mounted (EV151.2).
    c. all unauthorized assistance, except for paragraph EV154.2s above.
    d. not stopping when the bell is rung during the round (EV145.2 and EV152.9b).
    e. Entering the arena with incorrect attire.

I didn’t see any references to published start times for SJ.

At a schooling show would have hoped that they would have allowed some latitude. It seems like there might not have been good communication that they were running ahead of schedule.

This is really all that matters. Schooling shows follow whatever rules they choose to.


I don’t think that negates the question of what the actual rule is.


Alright for non schooling I found this:

EV110 Interruptions and Modifications
The Ground Jury of an Eventing competition, or in its absence the Technical Delegate, must use extreme caution
in allowing a competition to continue, when weather or terrain conditions are not of an acceptable standard, or are
such that they place the competitors and horses in danger.

  1. INTERRUPTIONS. The timetable may be interrupted due to dangerous conditions. If necessary, the start of
    any Test may be brought forward, postponed, or canceled. The decision to interrupt or cancel a Test will be
    made by the President of the Ground Jury, after consultation with the Technical Delegate if possible. As an
    exception to the General Rules of GR832, in the case of an interruption the event will be resumed as soon as
    possible at the point of interruption, and all scores recorded prior to the interruption will stand. Every affected competitor must receive sufficient warning before the resumption of the competition.

EV107 Starting Order and Timetable

  1. STARTING ORDER. If there are only individual competitions, a draw will be conducted by the Organizing
    Committee to determine starting order. If an individual is riding more than one horse, the Organizing
    Committee may adjust the starting order to allow sufficient time between rides, but maintaining the order of
    the horses as drawn. If there are team competitions, the Organizing Committee may use its discretion in the
    scheduling of teams. If a competitor rides more than one horse, the starting order of the horses will be
    determined by draw. If the third test of a Horse Trial is jumping in the reverse order of placing, the drawn
    starting order will be replaced for that test. If the same rider has two horses classified too close together, the
    order must be adjusted so that there will be a minimum of eight horses (if available) separating them. The
    lowest placed horse will move up in the order as far as possible, before the higher placed horse is dropped
    down. If the Organizing Committee of Tests allows entries on the day of competition, each competitor may
    sign up for starting times upon entering.
  2. TIMETABLE. A timetable showing each competitor’s starting times shall be prepared and distributed by 1900
    hours (7:00 PM) of the day before the relevant competition. If the third test of a Horse Trial is jumping in the
    reverse order of placing, only the approximate start and finish times for this test need to be published. If the
    organizing committee of Tests allows entries on the day of competition, only the approximate start and finish
    times for the competitions need to be published.


EV118 Inquiries, Protests and Appeals

  1. INQUIRIES. The competitor, a parent or guardian of a competitor under 18 years old, the owner of the horse,
    or the owner’s agent, may inquire about any perceived irregularity or mis-scoring during the course of the
    competition. Such inquiries may be addressed to members of the Organizing Committee, to the Ground Jury,
    or to the Technical Delegate.
  2. PROTESTS. The competitor, a parent or guardian of a competitor under 18 years old, the owner of the horse,
    or the owner’s agent authorized in writing, are entitled to lodge a protest. Protests shall be addressed to the
    President of the Ground Jury. They must be in writing, signed, and accompanied by a fee made payable to
    the Organizing Committee, which will be refunded if protest (or subsequent appeal) is upheld. They shall be
    delivered to the Event Secretary.

While schooling shows can do whatever they want, I think most try to follow USEF rules at least loosely. I’ve always understood the rules for stadium to be that it is the rider’s responsibility to be present at the proper time for their division/class and any provided times are guidelines. For dressage and cross country, which have individual start times, they cannot force you to go early. My experience at recognized shows conforms to this understanding. I’ve never been given an individual start time for stadium, but I have seen rough start times for each division with a warning that the class may start earlier or later (and the rider is responsible for monitoring progress).

However, reading what @Jealoushe posted, I’m now less clear about the stadium phase…


@leheath your post made me giggle because my experience is ride times for stadium. (Giggle because once again COTH shows that depending on where you are things can be so different.)

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I have been told (as a ring steward) that you can ask a member to go if you are running ahead of schedule, but you cannot make them and they are entitled to present at their scheduled time. I’m sorry that happened to you OP. I would mention it to the show organizer.

ETA: I have never not been given a start time for stadium at a Recognized Event. But every show is different.

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My only applied experience in this situation was Groton House some years back when a line of severe storms was going to hit on Sunday, traditionally stadium day. The organizing committee got the word out, everyone worked like crazy and somehow, all the stadium rounds were fit in on Saturday after XC. (IIRC XC rounds were moved up, too) The competitors were able to leave for home rather than try to ride out the storm in tents, and that was a very good thing because it was a doozy.

The competitors were so understanding and cooperative. That’s what made it doable.

Hm, so I guess it’s not quite as black and white as I thought. Although the general consensus seems to be that you would expect some leniency and understanding especially at a schooling show.

Honestly I didn’t mind riding earlier as it was a hot weekend and we were glad to get home sooner, but they needed to provide better communication. And once they saw me rushing to warm up, it would have been nice to have been given the time to do so.

According to my husband what had happened was they grouped the CT class with the mini BN class so there was no break in between groups on top of running early.

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I’m in Australia and I really enjoy seeing how events are organised elsewhere. I am a regular volunteer and my daughter is the rider.

Every phase has a time for each rider, but the dressage is the only phase that allows and expects you to ride at your scheduled time. I’ve noticed when I am pencilling that most judges will take riders out of order if there is a rider ready to go and the expected rider hasn’t turned up yet.

Showjumping hopes you will turn up at the right time, but since everyone is keen to go the marshallers rarely hold the line on times. You arrive and put your name on the list. If you actually turned up at your expected time, you might have several riders ahead of you. The organisers try really hard to get riders to ride to the time, but usually give that up fairly quickly.

XC runs to time. I pencil for the start at our local events which is a lot of fun. We start horses for most of the classes every minute. If you aren’t on time, whoever is ready will go. There is no waiting around for anyone unless the rider has some sort of horse issue between the warm-up and the start box. The marshallers are brilliant at keeping the riders coming in. “I need one more practice jump” doesn’t impress and so someone else who is ready will go.

We rarely run early on the xc. The one time we did confused everyone! Riders looking at the warm-up and not seeing a hundred horses assumed there was a hold on the course so we didn’t run early for very long.


I was riding in a 3-day HT 2 years ago. Last day was stadium and my ride time was 9:30am. I strolled over to warmup at 9:05 and had just started trotting around the ring. A steward called my number as “on deck”, and I said I just got here and my ride time was 20+ min away. She said since I was in the warm up ring, I was eligible to go early if needed and the course was open. I picked up the canter to take one jump and she yelled if I didn’t come over to the in-gate, I would be eliminated. Since I had 1 stop on XC the day before, I really didn’t care except I wanted to give my horse a fair warm up and positive ride. I’m sure I had as pleasant an expression on my face as the ring steward when I rode past her. Fortunately, I had a clear round, but I thought this was pretty crummy treatment at the biggest rated show in my area!


My experience in Area II is that the start times for stadium are set times. We get a Dressage, Stadium, and Cross Country time. Both at recognize and unrecognized shows, the posted times are usually by the Wed/Thu prior to the show. My experience is that you should be ready to go by your time but are not required to go early - just like Dressage and Cross Country. Quite often, Stadium will start to run early.

My first show of the season, they were something like 30 min early and I showed up to an empty warm up, did a few jumps, was ready to go and ended up waiting a few minutes because the judge was allowing one group to walk the course, so two other groups ducked in. The judge was across the arena from the entrance and radioed over to find out I was waiting and gently urged the competitors walking the course to move along.

It was all fine and dandy, no big deal, no rushing me. I don’t need much to warm up so the few jumps were fine for me. It also meant I went straight out for cross country, no waiting there either. Very much my preference.

Yeah come to think of it, I’ve only done two schooling shows before–this being my second. I can’t recall how the first was run but all the recognized shows I’ve done we’ve had individual stadium times. I believe once or twice a show did run a bit early but they gave riders the option of waiting until their scheduled times and it wasn’t significantly early.

Huh…I don’t think I’ve ever had a set Stadium time! I’m in Area VI and was previous in Area VII (both west coast areas). For fun, I went and checked StartBox and, of the 2 shows up that have times, the west coast one just has one stadium start time for all competitors in a division/class and the east coast one has specific start times for each competitors Just goes to show how much difference there can be between areas!

Just IMO – the real problem is not the rule, but the failure of communication.

Too many shows rely solely on the announcer when start times are moved up (or back). Even though they know full well that there are areas of the grounds where people congregate that can’t hear the annou ncer.

At one venue the announcer can’t be heard in the barns. But they never do anything to make sure that word of changes gets to the barns. There isn’t even a bulletin board where they could post it, and generally make sure that everyone knows to keep checking the board.

If you were in an area at the venue that could not hear any announcement, and was a place that riders could be expected to be found (not out at the fringes where no one else ever goes), then they should have taken steps to be sure that the word got to that location.

In your place, I would send a polite email to the organizer and explain the problem and how it affected you. That is the only way the organizer will ever know that this is an issue for competitors at their venue.


Pet peeve of mine, especially in the days where you had to hear an official announcement to hear that coats were waived. I always thought there should be a couple centrally located areas for announcements to be posted near the barns.

There was an event where I apparently was last to go on XC and I had no idea they were running half an hour early. My horse didn’t do well in warmup areas so I planned to warm up for 10 min and go at my time. On my way to the course or maybe upon hitting warmup was when I found out they were waiting for me–no pressure there.

Here’s and example that I found…notice there is a clear stadium go time:

Obviously you need to move to Area II…it’s what all the cool kids are doing!


That would be lovely! I have a jumper I do jumper shows with. Oh my Lord, talk about having no idea when you are going to go! Could be 10:30, could be 4:00!

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