Attire Current Members as AHMJs Qualifying for Championships
Certification vs Competition Levels Exceptions & Exemptions Rallies Held with Recognized Events/Affidavits
Chaperones & Driving Medical Armbands & Bracelets Saddlery/Tack
Coaches Mounts Sharing of Horses at Rallies/Championships


Half Chaps: Regarding the use of half chaps, in competition. Paddock boots with a matching smooth leather leg piece are acceptable for competition at all levels, including qualifying rallies and Championships, as well as for C-3 and above certifications. At D rallies, certificate tests and lessons as well as C-1 & C-2 certificate tests and lessons, any style, type of smooth or rough leather, material or color of Half Chap is acceptable. It should be noted that using half chaps with riding sneakers is not appropriate, unless the riding sneaker has a clear depth of heel that would ensure the ½ chap strap would stay in place. As with all equipment, half chaps should be in good repair and safe. A worn and stretched piece of elastic on a half chap is as unsafe as worn stitching on a stirrup leather.

Mountain Horse Boots: There are at least two styles of Mountain Horse boots. USPC follows the USEF Eventing rules on boots that state, "Boots- black, brown, field or jodhpur boots.” While one style of some of the Mountain Horse boots is not the most attractive, it would fit the requirement of a tall boot.

Safety Vests: Effective January 1, 2019, USPC now Requires wearing body protection whenever a member is jumping cross country / solid obstacles.

Prior to the implementation of this policy, body protection was only strongly recommended for cross country jumping. A recent study by Andres et al. found a statistically significant decrease in the number of injuries reported when a member was wearing a safety vest for cross country compared to riders that did not. There was also a trend towards a rider having a lower incident severity level if they were wearing a vest at the time of the incident. The study found that wearing body protection during cross country reduced the relative risk of injury by 56%.
This study lead to the creation of the USPC Policy 0800.E which states that wearing a properly fitted (per manufacturer’s guidelines) equestrian body protector is required when jumping cross-country/solid obstacles during any activity sponsored by the USPC, its Regions, Registered Clubs or Riding Center Programs.
Additionally, since not all vests are certified, USPC recommends wearing a body protector that is ASTM-certified (if manufactured in the US) or certified to BETA Level 3 (if manufactured in Great Britain).

Information regarding vest fit and certifications are available on the Safety page of the USPC website , as well as the 2019 versions of the USPC Safety Booklet and the Horse Management Handbook..

Air-Vests: The following is a statement from the USPC Executive Committee regarding inflatable vests:

  1. USPC is committed to riding safety as a first priority.
  2. The new inflatable vests have received a lot of publicity and are already being worn by many competitors. There appear to be benefits as well as possible drawbacks, with the majority of the testing occurring in the field as opposed to a laboratory.
  3. Our experience thus far suggests that proper fit is important.
  4. Use of inflatable vests, like the use of other protective vests, is at this time a personal decision on the part of members and their parents, and their use is neither required nor prohibited in any USPC activities. Please note, however, that USPC observes USEF/USEA rules where applicable.
    Hence, protective vests are required for the cross- country phase of USEF/USEA sanctioned horse trials and three day events (and, if an inflatable vest is worn in such a USEF/USEA sanctioned event, it must be worn over a protective vest). Please also note that event organizers and landowners may have rules requiring the use of protective vests during certain activities, and members of USPC must observe those rules.
  5. USPC will monitor the use and testing of air vests and consider whether to provide for them otherwise in the rules for USPC activities. See also the September 8, 2010, FEI Press Release on air vests.

Mouth Guards: The National Youth Sports Foundation for the Prevention of Athletic Injuries, Inc. reports a very interesting statistic. Dental injuries are the most common type of head injury sustained during sports participation. According to the American Dental Association, more than 200,000 of these mouth injuries can be prevented in this country by wearing sports mouth guards. Pony Club does not mandate the use or non-use of mouth guards and believes that their use is a personal decision to be made by members, their families and the professionals who advise them. Pony Club will create no hindrance to any member’s decision to wear mouth guards in any activity or discipline.

Certification vs. Competition Levels

Achieving a certification level confirms that a member has proven his/her riding ability and Horse Management knowledge to a certain level and is now working toward a higher level. It clarifies for an Instructor what abilities an individual or group can be expected to have. Often riders are riding at a higher level than their current certification because they have not achieved the knowledge portion or had the opportunity to test up as yet.

A minimum certification level is required for Championships competition to ensure that the rider has the maturity and Horse Management knowledge necessary to take care of his/her mount at an overnight or multi-day rally. What a certification does not do, is restrict the level of the lesson or competition. For rallies and Championships the rider enters the competition at the level of competency of his/herself and the mount. If there is a question as to a rider’s competency at a level, his/her regular Instructor, DC, CA, or RS --whichever is most familiar with the rider-- should be consulted.

Chaperones & Driving

USPC requires a minimum of one adult chaperone per team. It is the responsibility of the parents to select the chaperone(s) for the team. It is the responsibility of the parents to provide/arrange for transportation to, from, and during USPC competition and activities. In doing so, they may make arrangements among themselves. Clubs and regions need to stay away from rules concerning transportation. Transportation is the responsibility of a parent, not the Pony Club.

Adults that are transporting others might want to consider getting additional trip insurance. USPC Insurance does not cover transportation. This is clearly spelled out in the Insurance Packet.


Regarding coaches at competitions, it has been decided that a current USPC member may be a coach for a team but may not also compete at the same time. Obviously, they cannot fulfill the duties of a coach while trying to ride themselves. We feel that a coach should be at least 18 years old. We will not define the certification level required at this time, but want you to use your best judgment as to whether a person has the maturity, experience, and knowledge to take on this responsibility. Teaching experience would indicate that an H-A would be appropriate. However, at the current time, we are not mandating this, but one can use this certification level as one indication of an appropriate choice.

In qualifying competitions and at Championships, coaches are required in Show Jumping and allowed in Dressage, Eventing, Games, Polocrosse and Tetrathlon. It is felt that current USPC members would be appropriate as coaches at regional rallies, but not at Championships. In non-qualifying rallies, we urge all RS's, DC's, and CA's to use their discretion to make the rally as safe and as much fun as possible. Rallies and particularly the non-qualifying parts there of, are to be a learning experience. Whatever it takes to do the right thing for your particular group is at your discretion. 

Current Members as AHMJs

While it is "tempting" to draw on these young people as an available resource, it is in everyone's best interest to say "no". Active Pony Club members should not participate as HM at Championships. For every situation that would probably work out, there is likely to be another that would cause problems with certifications, seniority, or age, etc.


EXCEPTIONS TO THE COMPETITION RULES & QUALIFYING CRITERIA - It is recognized that local conditions vary across the country and that different rally formats at the club/center, inter-club/center, non-qualifying regional and qualifying regional or inter-regional rallies may require some flexibility in the rules and championships qualifying criteria. Therefore, in unusual circumstances it may be required to allow for exceptions to these rules to ensure safety and a good experience for our USPC Members. However, IN NO CASE MAY THE RULES BE CHANGED OR RELAXED WHICH WOULD COMPROMISE SAFETY OR OFFER AN UNFAIR ADVANTAGE TO A TEAM OR INDIVIDUAL.

At local club/club and inter-club/center non-qualifying rallies, the RS or DC/CA may authorize exceptions. At regional non-qualifying rallies, the RS (or their appointee) may authorize exceptions. At regional or inter-regional qualifying rallies or for individual qualifying, requests for exceptions must be made to the chair of the discipline involved in writing. The chair will forward all requests for exceptions to the Vice President of Activities, with their recommendation for approval or denial. The decision of the Vice President of Activities is final.

It is expected that the rules will be followed and the authority to grant exceptions are to be used judicially in exceptional circumstances only. The discipline committee chairs, the Vice President of Activities or the Director of Activities are available to answer questions or offer advice. Please do not hesitate to contact them.

Procedure for Requesting Exceptions:

  1. All requests must include the child’s name, age, certification(s), club or center, region, and details of why an exception is being requested. The Vice President of Activities will not grant exceptions without this information.
  2. RS send requests to the Discipline Chair:
  3. Discipline Chair reviews requests, makes a recommendation and forwards request to Vice President of Activities and Activities Services Director.
  4. The Vice President of Activities makes the final decision and notifies Discipline Chair. (Occasionally the Horse Management Committee Chair and Vice President of Instruction may be involved in the decision.)
  5. Discipline Chair notifies the following of the decision (granted or denied)
  • RS
  • Championships Discipline Organizer
  • Championships Discipline Secretary
  • CC: Activities and Events Director
  • CC: VP Activities

Medical Armbands & Bracelets


USPC requires that members participating in any USPC affiliated mounted or unmounted activity, must wear either a Medical Armband or Medical Bracelet while participating in the activity. The member may choose which one to wear.

  1. Medical Armbands must include a current completed copy of the individual's USPC Medical Release or USEA Medical Card. It must be worn on the upper arm. If the member has small arms, he/she may safety pin the armband to his/her upper sleeve. (Armbands are available for purchase from Shop Pony Club.)
  2. Medical Bracelets must visibly list these six items on them:
  • Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Emergency Contact Information
  • Known Allergies
  • Current Medications
  • Existing Medical Conditions

More information is acceptable, but these five items are required to be on the bracelet.


See Policy 0910.A

Mules in Pony Club: In the Activities Council conference call, it was agreed that no discipline had a problem with Mules being used in Pony Club, as long as they did not upset the mounts of the other participants. Mules have been a part of Pony Club since it's inception. The consensus was that Mules were acceptable Pony Club mounts as long as they are safe and suitable for the competition and discipline they wish to compete in.

The problem that we see is the issue of whether they will be able to compete at Championships or at the qualifying rallies. At present, Pony Club has no policy barring Mules from competition. If the Championships become USEF recognized, then Mules would not be eligible to compete in Dressage, Show Jumping, or Eventing as USDF, USEA, and USEF all limit participation to Horses and Ponies. If they are not eligible for Championships, then it follows  that they would not be acceptable mounts at the Qualifying Rallies.

Riding two Horses at Rally: With the approval of the Rally Organizer and RS, a competitor may enter and compete two horses at a rally. They will have to be responsible for the full Horse Management aspects of both horses. At Championships, only one horse is allowed.

Sharing of Horses at Rallies/Championships: See Sharing, below.

Qualifying for Championships

The Rules governing Qualifying Rallies and Championships are outlined in the Discipline Rule Books for Dressage, Eventing, Games, Polocrosse, Quiz, Show Jumping, and Tetrathlon. In addition, the Gold Book publishes the qualifying criteria for each discipline. The qualifying options are as follows:

  1. Competitors are to compete in their region's qualifying rally, and meet the qualifying criteria as outlined for the specific discipline in which they are competing.
  2. If a region cannot not hold a qualifying rally, or if extenuating circumstances prevent a competitor from competing in his/her qualifying rally, the competitor may go out of region with the permission of both his/her RS and the RS of the region sponsoring the qualifying rally.
  3. We support the concept of allowing multiple Qualifying Rallies: This option could be either between regions or within a region that might choose to hold two qualifying rallies for specific disciplines. Of course, "between regions” would require RS knowledge and approval from both RSs, as above.

Competition Year: The USPC Competition year runs from the end of one Championship to the closing date of the next Championship. Entries normally close 30 days prior to the Championship, which means that riders have approximately 11 months to participate in a qualifying rally and have any required affidavits completed.

Rallies held within Framework of a Recognized Event/Affidavits

While participation in a rally that is conducted within the framework of a recognized event may seem to be fulfilling two obligations at one time, it does NOT count as two qualifying outings for your Eventing Affidavits. You are still only completing one competition. You are not doing two Dressage tests, two XC rides or two Stadium rounds. The purpose of requiring two affidavits is to show that you have experienced competing at your level of competition at Championships a minimum of two times.


Anti-Grazing Reins: The anit-grazing rein is not allowed for any individual who is trying to qualify for Championships. There are D-exceptions in non-Championship qualifying divisions. Refer to the individual discipline rulebooks for rules on anti-grazing reins. 

German Martingale: German Martingales are not allowed in competition in FEI or USEF shows, and therefore not allowed at USPC Competitions or testing. Should your regular Pony Club instructor feel it necessary for lessons, then it may be used in that situation.

Myler Bits: The Myler Bit Company is a company that is known for making many types of bits for many disciplines. They do make a full line of bits considered "legal” bits for Dressage and Eventing competitions, including their "rotating joint” snaffle, which is now legal for as long as the reins are not connected in a fixed manner. This means the rein cannot be connected through any slots in the bit ring. Keep in mind that these restrictions apply only to the Dressage and Eventing competitions. Check your rulebook for acceptable bits in all other disciplines.

Old Mac Boots:  It is agreed that; as Old Mac Boots are actually replacement shoes and not leg protection, they do not fall under the definition of "boots" and are therefore, acceptable for competition.

Rein Aids: Rein-Aid a product from Rein-Aid Productions. It is approximately 3" of elastic that connects the bit to the rein and acts as a kind of give and supposedly makes the riders hands softer. This is forbidden in Dressage and Eventing under Chapter II, General Regulations -, Saddlery and Equipment: "A rein is a continuous, uninterrupted strap or line from the bridle bit to the hand. Rein additions or attachments are not permitted."

The Elasto-Rein, made by the same company and pictured on the same site is a continuous leather strap attaching directly to the bit and therefore is legal for USEF Dressage, Show Jumping, and Eventing. Therefore it is allowed for USPC Competition.

Synthetic Tack: Synthetic tack is acceptable. It must be in good repair and clean. A conservative color (brown or black) that would be appropriate for all disciplines & phases is strongly recommended. (Safety stirrups and leather stirrup leathers are strongly encouraged).

Treeless Saddles: There are several new "treeless" saddles on the market that appear to fit certain horses very well, and therefore will be acceptable for use in Pony Club.

Sharing of Horses at Rallies/Championships

For regional and local rallies, the RS shall make the decision on the sharing of horses, always taking into consideration the amount of work being asked of the horse.

For Championships East/Festival, where all disciplines compete at the same time, the sharing of horses is currently allowed in Tetrathlon, with a horse being limited to 3 rounds per day.  See below for Dressage and Show Jumping.

For Championships Central or West, when the disciplines are staggered over multiple days, riders are allowed to ride the same horse in two consecutive divisions or if disciplines overlap, sharing within the guidelines as set for Championships East.

For all Championships, it is a requirement that Horse and Rider qualify as a pair, except in Tetrathlon. As long as both of the riders have qualified on the horse, two people showing the same horse in different disciplines at different times would be acceptable.

Games & Polocrosse – No sharing on the same days at any Championship because of the amount of work the mounts do in those disciplines.  But can be ridden in another discipline at the other days of the show.

Eventing – No sharing on the same day, because this is a recognized competition and that is not allowed by the USEF rules.

For Dressage and Show Jumping two riders may request to share a mount at Championships, if the mount is fit enough to do 4 dressage tests per day or 4 jumping rounds per day.   The Discipline Organizers/Chairs will review each request on a case by case basis for approval or denial.  The challenge in these instances will be the scheduling. The disadvantage for Show Jumping is that if the 1st rider has a good round, it will be an advantage for the 2nd rider. Conversely, if the 1st rider has a problem, the 2nd rider will most likely have a much more difficult job.  Obviously, the welfare of the mount should be the highest priority in this situation and all competitors must agree that if the organizers or HM onsite feel that the health of the mount is in jeopardy at any time that they may be removed from the rest of the riding portion of the competition.  

Horse Management - Shared horses in the same competition present to Turnout Inspection together, with scores based on each rider’s certification level.  Shared horses in separate disciplines do own Turnout.  Rider riding two disciplines may opt to keep the Turnout score from the first discipline, but will be spot checked to ensure proper care of the horse.