Tips for hosting CT

Combined tests are suddenly in high demand in my area, and my friend wants to host one at our farm. I logged on to Facebook a few hours ago to see an event created for the CT at the end of November, so since this is no longer a hypothetical, give me your suggestions!

We have an indoor and an outdoor, neither of which are quite large enough to split into a schooling and showing area, so we are going to have to involve at least one paddock. Weather permitting, would it be silly to put the jump course in a paddock with some gentile hills so make it feel a little bit more exciting than a regular CT jump course? If we did, would that require XC vests?

Does anyone have organizational tips for choosing ride times? I’ve only ever handeled dressage shows, so that’s a little less complicated.

Is there anything else that I’m forgetting?

Our local Horse Council did a CT at a local farm one time. We put the jump course in one of the paddocks just as you suggest. It had some topography but not a lot, it made it a nice course. The dressage was in another riding field. We set it up so you rode you dressage test then just went over and did your jump course when you were ready. I suppose if you have TONS of people you might need a little more structure but it worked for us.

It was super fun.

I think putting it on grass is a great idea – it’s fairly common here to have our SJ in a pasture that’s pretty uneven. You would not need to to require XC vests but it’s not a bad idea to suggest them.

For organizing ride times, the minimum should be 30 minutes between each ride. Factor in things like how long it takes to get from dressage ring to trailer, and how long it takes to get from trailer to the SJ area. You may have people who message you asking for specific time slots - be prepared to shuffle people around. Mapping out the schedule is possibly the thing you have to be most flexible about.

I would say your biggest logistical concern should be parking. I have found the event itself tends to run smoothly, but parking can be a nightmare. If parking is tight make sure you have a Large And In Charge managing the parking area – otherwise it gets hectic.


I would not want to make a unrecognized CT at your farm “exciting” In general laid back schooling shows attract a lot of beginner type people and this could lead to a more exciting than normal day when an organizer decides to make the course exciting.

I have no issues with it being on grass. But keep in mind that not everyone is used to show jumping and turning on grass (yes really, XC courses tend to be straighter and a lot of people only show jump on sand)

I would put it in a nice flat boring location with nice quality but not scary on purpose fences until you feel out your clientele. A recent schooling show I attended was on hilly terrain and some of the less experienced riders had very exciting rides indeed on the hilly wet grass.


I’ve been involved with many CTs. If you can avoid grass, the better. Not sure where you are, but weather this time of year becomes an issue. Many competitors may not have studs, so grass wetness, mud can really be an issue. Also if rains the day of your show, your competitors will be very happy (and more likely to come) if it’s on sand and not grass.

Do times as late as possible. You will have late people calling and asking to be added in. You’ll end of having to redo times over and over. keep an eye on how close dressage is to jumping. You want to give people at least an hour or two between. So they can walk the course. Usually a problem for the early rides. However, makes sure there isn’t too much time between rides. Especially if parking is an issue, you will want to get people in and out.

Make sure you get money up front. Don’t add them to your event until they have paid. Set up paypal or other payment system so it’s easy.

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To add to this thought, offer a discounted price for early entries. That will hopefully get people to enter sooner than later.

Decide which USEA dressage tests you will use - 2021 version or next year’s version. The tests are different in 2022. ’ US Equestrian (USEF) and the United States Eventing Association (USEA) have announced the publication of the new 2022 USEF Eventing Dressage Tests for Beginner Novice through Advanced which will be used from December 1, 2021 through November 30, 2025"

Even if you are not going to associate with USEA, this might be useful.

or this

What is with eventers not liking grass?! Showing on cultivated, perfect footing is not eventing. Even in mud, you don’t need studs for a CT.

Part of eventing is riding on grass and undulating terrain.

Many venues in Area 1 feature show jumping on grass on the side of a hill. We’re not known for flat terrain. :wink:

Maybe it is a regional thing…? Although, my local org hosts 3 phase and CTs on their grass field and yes, every year we have competitors complain about having to do stadium and dressage on the grass… Honestly… this is one of the very few times I will say that if you(g) don’t want to do a dressage or stadium round on grass footing, eventing may not be the discipline for you.


We hosted horse trials and combined tests at our farm for about 15 years. I still have most of the announcements and show schedules for these in electronic form if you think that it would
help. I can email them to you easily. These were only low-level schooling efforts for the local community, nothing above novice and not for “fancy” riders. But held in indoor and on grass jump field and in our pastures. Email me at if you would like me to send any of it. Oh, and we last did these in 2015 so they are out of date.


Oh so totally agree. CT is precisely an opportunity to try out eventing skills and to learn new ones.


I absolutely think you need studs at Novice and above on most horses with four shoes when the ground is hard and/or greasy. Even many horses without shoes could benefit when it’s slick. And I think it’s almost more important in dressage and show jumping than xc at the lower levels.

Around here the ground can be anywhere from deep and muddy to perfect to quite frozen in late November so I do think it’s a consideration for both footing and parking. If you can be flexible and switch to the ring if necessary that would probably be the best of all.

I would also offer dressage test of choice classes in addition to CT.

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For a low key low level on a private farm kind of thing few to zero competitors will have studs, and may not have the experience necessary to know when to slow down. I suggested having it on flat grass and not hilly grass to remove that scare factor.

Better to err on the side of caution then have competitors coming off right and left because they aren’t prepared.

I show on grass all the time, I don’t use studs but my horse is sure footed and both us know when to trot a tight turn or to slow down. Others may not.

I host small clinics on my farm and when I started using my sand ring when I finished it I got a lot more entries. I couldn’t even get dressage people period to take a lesson in a grass dressage ring. Plus I don’t have to worry about tearing my grass up ( I don’t use it for a pasture, just for riding)

Most lack experience on the grass… my horses is surefooted because I school on grass… don’t have grass for the beginners… There does seem to be a strange attitude towards grass these days.


In my part of the world, most things associated with eventing happen on grass. Even the most intro level speed bump stuff. So having the jumping phase in a grass turn out does not seem weird to me at all.

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Keeping in mind I show low level (BN) - I would intentionally not stud in dressage, even if it was slick. I had a HOT mare, but she still had survival skills. If she slipped, she would immediately cool her jets and be more amenable to my suggestions. Helpful in dressage.

Then I’d stud up for XC, just the hinds. Didn’t want her losing confidence in front of a fence by slipping.

For what it is worth, I totally get why you suggested it and it wasn’t a kvetch at you or the other poster that also suggested it. It’s an attitude shift I’ve seen here too. What I don’t get is why it is the mood of modern eventers.

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FWIW, I said “paddock” and “hills” but not grass :sweat_smile:

The paddock that makes the most sense for us to use is the pony field, and even with muzzles, those bastards obliterate anything green that dare try to sprout. There’s some scrubby, brown stuff that helps keep the ground stable, but the area is mostly dirt and sand and the fied gets dragged once a week or so. Its good footing even after rain.

How much time does adding up scores usually take? The last CT I went to, everyone seemed to be complaining that it was taking too long. But as a person who isn’t great at math, I’ve never once dared to criticize that process.

It would seem that a simple spreadsheet on a laptop should help, if scores for each phase are entered right away. I use the “Apache” spreadsheet a lot (and is free!) if you don’t have Microsoft Excel.

I.E., across the top, columns titled Rider’s Name, Horse’s Name, Dressage Score, Cross Country Score, Jumping Score, TOTAL. It’s easy (if you know how) to sort the scores after each phase so the leader’s name is at the top of the spreadsheet.

Don’t know if what I described above is what you need/want.

I do the scoring for our CTs. That is my only job. I’ve tried the spreadsheet route, which does work, but computer and electricity became an issue. I score outside, and computer got very dusty and battery ran low. I just use a calculator and the scoring doesn’t take very long. We have a couple of kids score run and they pick up the tests every couple of riders and bring them to me. I post the scores once the division is complete. The jumping scores are also given to me after the division is done. This is my only job though for the day, if you add other responsibilities, then scoring starts to slow down. I have another volunteer to do prizes and ribbons after the division is placed.

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