Ever wondered what the difference between a CCI and CIC is? Confused what the difference between BE and FEI is? Unsure what the difference between 1* and 4* or even what the *’s are all about? Fear not, we have come up with a beginners guide to help you understand all about the sport of Eventing.



Where to start

British Eventing (BE) is the national governing body of affiliated eventing in Great Britain and you and your horse must be a member (or buy a day ticket) in order to compete. Competitions consist of 3 phases – dressage, show jumping and cross country and classes start at a height of 80cm. The Federation Equestrian Internationale (FEI) is the governing body for all international events including championship events such as the Olympics, World Equestrian Games and Europeans. You must be registered with the FEI in order to compete in FEI events. Both BE and FEI have their own set of rules so it’s important to familiarise yourself with both.


What are different classes called?

BE events run from BE80(T) right through to Advanced, these are called national one day events (even though at some events you may do dressage the day before so it may take longer than one day!). FEI events are international one day events (CIC) and international three day events (CCI) and these are graded from 1* up to 4*. The table below will hopefully help as a guide to the different classes and levels of competition:


BE level Height FEI equivalent level
BE 80 (T) 80cm
BE 90 90cm
BE 100 1m
BE 105 1.05m SJ, 1m XC
Novice 1.10m CCI/CIC 1*
Int-Novice 1.15m SJ, Novice XC
Intermediate 1.15m CCI/CIC 2*
Advanced 1.20m CCI/CIC 3*
CCI 4*


Harry Dzenis eventing


The difference between a one day event and three day event

  • At a one day event you would expect to do dressage followed by show jumping and then cross country.
  • At an international one day events (CIC’s) there is likely to be a vet inspection of some kind though it may not be an official trot up and on some occasions the show jumping may take place after the cross country so it’s always best to familiarise yourself with the timetable for each event as it can vary.
  • At an international three day event (CCI) the traditional timetable would consist of a vet’s inspection/trot up on the Wednesday followed by dressage on Thursday and Friday. Cross country day is normally on the Saturday and on Sunday morning will be a second vet’s inspection/trot up to ensure all horses are fit to continue to the show jumping later that day.


Angus Smales eventing


How do you win?!

You will be given a penalty score for your dressage test (the lower the mark the better) and the aim is to try not to add anything to it! Penalties can be accrued for a knock down, refusal or exceeding the time allowed in the show jumping. In the cross country phase penalties can come from a refusal, going the wrong side of the flag (this is always a controversial one!) and for exceeding the time allowed or being too fast. Penalties from every phase are added together and the horse and rider combination to finish with the lowest penalty score are the winners. Should there be a tie the combination closest to the optimum time across country will be the winners.


When it goes wrong…

The following scenarios will result in elimination or compulsory retirement (there are more in the BE/FEI rule books):

  • A fall of horse and or rider during any phase in BE or FEI event will result in elimination
  • Accumulative refusals (3 at one fence or 4 across the course) cross country will result in elimination
  • If it’s not your day and things just aren’t going to plan then you can raise your hand and retire from the competition during any phase. This ends the competition and you won’t be able to ride in the next phase
  • Exceeding 24 penalties (excluding time penalties) in the show jumping can result in compulsory retirement meaning you will not be able to go cross country


International horse trials 


Tips to help you have a successful and stress less day

  • Get your hat tagged! You will not be allowed to compete without a hat tag so get it tagged at the event secretaries at the beginning of the season
  • Make sure you take your horse’s passport with you. It is a legal requirement to travel a horse with a passport and spot checks are carried out at events
  • Ensure your horse’s vaccinations are up to date and remember for FEI events horses must be vaccinated every 6 months
  • Make the rule book your bed time reading – it is a competitor’s responsibility to know the rules.
  • Ensure your tack is competition legal for each phase. There is nothing worse than turning up to your dressage and being told you can’t compete in that bit!


We hope this guide helps you to have a better understanding of what each class is and what goes on at an event. If you haven’t competed before we hope this may help to give you the confidence to get involved and have a go!


To find out more about British Eventing click here


To find out more about the Federation Equestrian Internationale click here