USEF Show Jumping Rules: How Jumpers and Horses are Scored (USEF Rules)

8 July 2018 - 12:14, by , in Rules, No comments

Scoring for Equestrian Show Jumping is relatively simple, you just need to take into account the type of class that’s being scored so that you know which rules apply.
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There are different authorities that regulate the sport. The FEI (french for International Federation for Equestrian Sports) is the #1 global authority. FEI rules apply for all international show jumping classes (generally referred to as CSI classes). For non-international classes in the US, the USEF (US Equestrian Federation) is the regulating authority.

In a general sense judges take two things into consideration: penalties and time. Depending on the class type (also known as Table) classes will be run and scored differently.

One Round Classes

  • Table II  Clear Round / Blue Ribbon – All horses who finish their round without penalties and within the time allowed (Clear Round) are awarded a Blue Ribbon for 1st place. The strategy here is to avoid knocking down fences while staying within the time allowed.
  • Table II.1  Speed Class —In the case of equal faults, the horse with the shorter time will be ranked above others. In this case the strategy is to go as quickly as possible without knocking any rails down.

Table II.2 – Jump Off Classes

Horses with a clear round move on to the Jump Off round. During the first round riders must focus on not dropping fences and staying within the time allowed. Once in the Jump Off round, they must go as quickly as possible without dropping any rails.

  • Table II.2 a Posterior Jump Off – The Jump Off round starts after all riders have completed their first round.
  • Table II.2 b Immediate Jump Off – Horses must jump their second round right after clearing the first one, without leaving the ring.
  • Table II.2 a/b Jump Off (optional) – Riders can decide whether to start the jump-off immediately after clearing the first round  (A) or wait until all other riders have completed their rounds (B).

Table II.2 C – Two Phase / Power and Speed Class

The designer divides the course in two phases. The first phase contains 8-10 jumping efforts while the second shorter one contains 5-7. If a competitor clears the first phase he or she will start the second one immediately after crossing the finish line without stopping. The first or Power phase is all about going jumping clear, while the Speed round is about, well… speed.



There are several causes for penalties. Incurring in any of them is considered not clearing a round.

Knockdown 4 Faults
First Disobedience 4 Faults
Second Disobedience Elimination
Exceeding the Time Allowed 1 Fault per commenced second

Other causes for elimination include falling down, taking more than 45 seconds to jump the next obstacle, jumping an obstacle before it is reset, going off-course, leaving the arena before finishing the course, excessive actions against a horse, exceeding the time limit, etc.



This sums up the basics for the rules that are used in most shows and classes in the US. We hope this helps you understand a bit more about the beautiful sport of Show Jumping.

Please refer to the Official USEF Jumper Division rules for a more in-depth explanation of applicable rules. The official USEF rules can be found here:


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