Guidelines for NEH


1. Age: Horses must be 4 years old or older. Organizers may sub-divide New Event Horse classes into categories by age (e.g., 4 year old/5 year old/older horse classes); by age of rider (Junior New Event Horse/Senior New Event Horse); by experience (e.g. First Year New Event Horse; Second Year New Event Horse); or by breed (e.g. OTTB New Event Horse/Non-TB New Event Horse). Organizers may petition to add other sub-divisions as well. If Organizers choose to sub-divide New Event Horse classes by age, the following rules shall apply, consistent with the YEH class rules: 4 year-old classes are for horses attaining four years of age in the current calendar year. 5 year-old classes are for horses attaining five years of age in the current calendar year. Mares that have had term or near-term foals will be allowed a “bye” year if a certificate of verification, signed by a veterinarian, is submitted to the USEA office. The intent of this rule is to allow mares who have taken time off to be bred to compete in four year old classes as five year olds and five-year-old classes as six-year-olds.

2. Membership: Riders must be members of the USEA, but may be registered as non-competing members. Horses must be registered with the USEA. but may be registered with a limited membership. Horses or Riders may be registered the day of competition.

3. Saddlery: Only snaffle bridles may be used in dressage and boots and martingales are optional for jumping. No boots to be worn in Sections I or II.

4. Dress (relaxed): ASTM/SEI approved helmets mandatory at all times while mounted. Dressage phase: Collared shirt with sleeves, breeches, and boots. Jumping phase: Cross-country attire with safety vests and medical armbands. Half-chaps are allowed.


Section I    Conformation and Type    15%
Section II    Dressage Test    35%
Section III    Jumping Test/Gallop/General Impression    50%
Section II must precede Section III.  Section 1 (Conformation and Type) may occur first, second, or immediately following Section III.

Judges are to be derived from the YEH Judges List.  Those judges are guided to look for horses with aptitude for dressage and jumping, and the temperament and suitability for Eventing.  Priority should be given for the horse the judge views as likely to become a capable and sensible partner at the Preliminary level and below.  While athleticism, scope, and elastic gaits are a necessary component of a successful event horse, a horse that may not be a viable 4 star prospect should not be unnecessarily penalized in this competition due to an apparent lack of scope.  A sensible weighing of athletic ability with necessary temperament, cattiness, and mindset should be performed.  In short, the winning horse should be the one that would most likely be a fun, safe, and successful partner at Preliminary and Training level, with the structural soundness to predict it will be able to compete at that level comfortably.

Section 1 – Conformation and Type

Each horse is stripped of tack and shown in hand to the judge. Handlers are to stand their horse up for inspection by the judge who will assess conformation and type. The horse is judged on potential for soundness, speed and stamina. Handlers will be asked to walk and trot them in a straight line for soundness and correctness. Color, size and gender should not be a factor in a horse's score.

Section II - Dressage

The dressage test shall be the 4 year old Young Event Horse qualifying competition test.  This is a modified dressage test judged on overall collective impressions (not by each individual movement).  The 2010 Dressage Test will be available on the YEH page of the USEA website.

Section III – Jumping Test/Gallop/General Impression

The jumping phase, ideally, should incorporate a small course of four or five show jumping fences immediately followed by six to eight cross-country jumps. This model allows for a smooth transition from a show jumping pace to the more forward cross-country pace. Fences must be between 2’3”-2’7” and should at no time be more difficult than the specifications for a Beginner Novice competition.  Smaller courses are permitted and encouraged at qualifying competitions that take place in the early months of the year, building to Beginner Novice specifications as the year progresses.  Organizers are strongly encouraged to include descriptions of their courses in omnibus and other listings.

An event horse must be able to jump a bank, ditch, water, or solid fence. All events must incorporate at least one of these obstacles in their jumping section. The obstacles should be straight forward, inviting, and age-appropriate for the youngsters. Please note that schooling through the water obstacle prior to competition is permitted and encouraged.  A horse shall not be eliminated for a refusal, but the nature of the refusal shall be included in the overall assessment of the horse.  Continued refusals (more than four on the entire course) or prolonged nappiness may be excused at the judge’s discretion, but the emphasis should be on a positive introduction to the sport of Eventing.

The judge must be able to easily see all fences on the jumping course. An ideal design for the jumping section would be a relatively open space with several show jumps at the beginning of the course. This allows the horse to jump the more technical fences then move on to a more forward stride to the cross country course. There should be a total of 10-12 fences.

There must be enough room for the horse to gallop away from the last fence for long enough that the judge can assess the quality of the gait.  Horses are required to show their gallop immediately following the last jump and organizers should permit sufficient room for horses to develop their gallop and pull up safely.

Note to organizers: there may be a time delay between phases, and the dressage and jumping phases may  be run in conjunction with a recognized competition by setting stadium type jumps near the start of the cross-country course and making use of the start box.

Horses in the NEH may be cross-entered at Beginner Novice or Novice at a recognized horse trials occurring in conjunction with the NEH class.

Guidelines for Judging

The aim of these classes is to encourage the introduction of horses to the sport of Eventing.

Method of Judging

The Judges should bear in mind they are looking for potential for the future, and recognize that unfortunately, all too often, the horse with the most potential may not be the one which is presented in the best manner. Judges are looking for a kind, wiling, athletic, moving horse with a promising jumping technique that, with correct training, will develop physically and mentally into a safe and enjoyable mount for an adult amateur or young rider or at the one star level or below. 

His conformation and movement should enable him to withstand the demands of the sport in terms of soundness, speed and stamina. Lack of quality and other defects which may prevent him being talented enough for upper level competition should not be unduly penalized, though structural flaws or unsoundness that would prevent a long term career should be considered a substantial flaw.  A lack of size or color of the horse should not be held against him, nor should the horse’s gender affect any judgment.  Breed should be considered a factor only to the extent that the individual horse may show athleticism, gaits, or conformation likely or unlikely to be a successful eventer at Preliminary level or below; a horse’s breed should not de-facto rule out a particular competitor from placing well.

In the dressage phase, unlike a normal dressage test, marks are not given for individual movements. Three correct and regular gaits are the qualities that judges will be seeking.  Horses should not be marked down for displaying a little exuberance, though a willing temperament should be considered a positive factor. The judge will have to weigh the influence of the rider; a good rider may present a well balanced, smooth test from perhaps a moderate, not scopey horse while a novice rider may even hinder a good horse from showing its true worth.  Likewise in the jumping we are looking for a kind, safe, athletic horse with good technique and a horse with these qualities should not necessarily be penalized for knocking down a fence providing he learns from his mistake.  Nor should a horse be penalized for a rider’s mistake; however, a horse’s reaction to a rider’s error should be used to inform the overall score either positively or negatively.  While the majority of the course should be jumped at the canter, a horse will not be penalized for jumping out of the trot.

In conclusion we could sum up by asking the question "Which horse would I buy to make to make an introductory event horse for my student?"

Scoring and Use of Marks

Careful thought must be given to how the marks are used.  Judges should use the full range of marks. Similar to dressage judging, the first horse in sets the standard and therefore one must leave enough room to put better horses above and weaker horses below.

Each section will be scored on a 1-10 mark basis.

1 = very bad
2 =bad
3= fairly bad
4= insufficient
5 = sufficient
6= satisfactory
7= fairly good
8= good
9= very good
10 = excellent

Conformation and Type is worth 15% of your score.

Dressage total average score is worth 35% of your score.

Jumping Test/Gallop/General Impression is worth 50% of your score.


If you are interested in hosting a USEA New Event Horse Series competition or have questions about the NEH program, please contact Kate Lokey. 

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