Not a favorite topic and believe us, we don’t want it to happen to you! Some kinds of elimination are avoidable by knowing the rules. Others are just a factor of you and your horse’s experience and how your ride was on any particular day. Here are some general pointers to help you out:
Be sure you know what equipment is acceptable for you and your horse for each phase. We follow USEA (Untied States Eventing Association) rules, so check it out at USEA and click on Rules for Eventing, Rulebook PDF, or borrow a copy of the rule book. All riders new to eventing are encouraged to get to know the USEA rules. For example, correct bitting for the dressage phase is a common snafu, so check it all out.
Your horse must be sound to compete. Judges and Technical Delegates must act on unsoundnesses (lamenesses) that they see that day and eliminate you. If your horse has come up lame prior to the event, please call and scratch. We can often give you a refund or a credit towards another event and you can come and play in the future when your horse is 100%.
This means no one else can ride your horse in a warm-up, your friends cannot point the way for you on the cross-country course, nor can your trainer whisper suggestions as you do your dressage test. This is your day…show us what YOU can do! Remember to remind your family, friends and trainer before you ride NOT to talk to you when you are being judged. Don’t let them disqualify you!
While there is a certain amount of subjectivity to this topic, be smart and thoughtful, and don’t go anywhere near it. Improper or excessive use of the whip, the spurs or the reins will rightly get you eliminated, so take a deep breath and handle a disobedience calmly. There is always another day.
The improper use of the crop/whip while jumping is the most common problem, so here are the rules, straight from the USEA:
Properly fitting ASTM-approved helmets with harnesses are required in all phases and by everyone riding anywhere on the grounds. Protective vests are required for the cross-country phase and are allowed in the stadium phase as well. We also require the use of the identification armbands sold by the USEA and we want you to have your identifcation and any medical information on you at all times.
Now, don’t be overwhelmed, you can avoid many of these problems just by being prepared and calm. Remember, you are competing for the fun and pleasure of time with your horse, and to test your skills as a team on any given day. Should the unfortunate “E” word enter into your day, we will allow you to continue in the other phases (other than for soundness, safety or abuse reasons) for the experience. So, head on out there and have a great time!