FMF Eventing Guidelines for Moving Up

One of the most commonly-asked questions at any barn is, “When can I move up?!” The answer is usually not clear to riders and parents, but is crystal-clear to the instructors, who have years and years of experience. This guide is designed to give clear criteria for riders and parents, make moving up fun, stress-free, and successful.

First and foremost, remember that each rider and horse combination is unique. Thus, the starting point of the eventing journey varies for each pair. Ask yourself: What levels has the rider competed/schooled? What levels has the horse competed/schooled? What levels have the horse and rider competed/schooled together?

It is not expected that a rider that has competed at Novice will take their new horse that has gone Preliminary all the way back to Starter and start over. They may start their journey together at Novice or even drop down to Beginner Novice. Sometimes, dropping down a level is an important step to allow the pair to get acquainted. New partnerships are always evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Second, remember that all Horse Trials are different. Some are more difficult than others, and competing on your own turf is generally easier. Furthermore, the Unrecognized Horse Trials often have unique designations for their levels. Always talk to your instructor before signing up to ensure that you are in the most beneficial division.

Third, eventing is not an entirely linear journey, but there are three main stages of development in each level: entry, competency, and preparation for moving up. Expect it to take a MINIMUM of one season to go through a level. Don’t be surprised if it takes longer! In the case of a fall, injury, or other issue, it may be necessary to go down a level in order to regain the rider’s and/or horse’s confidence. This DOES NOT mean that you or your horse are inferior or bad in any way. Eventing is a game of confidence;  if confidence is lost it WILL take time to rebuild it. It is your responsibility to your horse to give them the time that they need.

Moving up is not a race– it does not matter if the riders you began at Starter with are now levels above or below you. Eventing is about having a successful, safe, and positive experience for both the horse and rider. Moving up too quickly will almost always result in a significant delay in reaching the full potential of the horse and rider.

There is nothing more exhilarating for both horse and rider than to reach the finish line of cross country after a clear and correct run. There is nothing worse than not coming home safely. Think, for just one moment, how you would feel if your overzealousness injured your horse. It is our responsibility to always put the well-being of the horse first. Our job as riders is to demonstrate proper judgment and to put forth the considerable effort required to make every show rewarding, safe, and fun!


   I. Dressage
      A. Demonstrate ability to ride correct 20 meter circles at trot
      B. Demonstrate ability to ride correct centerlines and changes of direction across the diagonal properly.
   II. Cross Country
      A. Successfully complete at least 2 XC clinics at the Starter level
      B. Approval of instructor
   III. Stadium
      A. Able to canter a course of six 18″ jumps in the arena consistently in a safe manner.

   I. Dressage
      A. Demonstrate ability to ride correct 20 meter circles at trot and canter
      B. Consistently bend horse correctly for circles and turns
   II. Cross Country
      A. Successfully complete at least 2 XC clinics at Intro level
   III. Stadium
      A. Able to canter a course of at least 6 fences at 2′ in the arena consistently (balanced and on the correct lead) in a safe manner.
   IV. Competition – Complete at least 2 events at the Starter level with
      A. Dressage score of 45 or lower
      B. Cross Country – Clear, no issues
      C. Stadium – Clear – trotting or cantering the whole course in a controlled manner
   V. Other
      A. Be able to trot all the way around the big cross country field in a controlled, balanced manner.

   I. Dressage
      A. Able to bend horse consistently in both directions
      B. Able to consistently perform transitions between the gaits on command within three steps
      C. Beginning to get the horse on the bit
   II. Cross Country
      A. Complete at least 2 XC clinics at the BN level
   III. Stadium
      A. Able to canter a course of at least 6 fences at 2’7″ in the arena consistently (balanced and on the correct lead) in a safe manner
   IV. Competition – Complete at least 3 events at Intro level with
      A. Dressage score 45 or lower
      B. Cross Country – Clear no issues – All at canter unless footing or course necessitates trotting
      C. Stadium – Clear no issues
   V. Other
      A. Rider must demonstrate ability to attain a balanced 325 mpm canter from a working canter within five strides.
      B. Rider must demonstrate ability to attain a balanced working canter from a 325 mpm canter within five strides


   I. Dressage
      A. Horse consistently on the bit for walk-trot-canter
      B. Consistently perform prompt organized transitions
   II. Cross Country
      A. Successfully complete at least 2 XC clinics at the Novice level
   III. Stadium
      A. Canter courses at 2’11” in the arena consistently (balanced and on the correct lead) in a safe manner
   IV. Competition – Complete at least 3 events at the BN level with
      A. Dressage score 40 or below
      B. Cross Country – Clear with no time faults
      C. Stadium – Clear with no time faults


   I. Dressage
      A. Consistently on the bit for walk-trot-canter
      B. Prompt, organized transitions
      C. Beginning collection and lengthening
      D. Beginning to show some proficiency at stretch circles
   II. Cross Country
      A. Successfully complete at least 2 XC clinics at the Training level
   III. Stadium
      A. Canter courses at 3’3″ in the arena consistently in a safe manner (balanced and on the correct lead)
   IV. Competition – Complete at least 3 events at Novice with
      A. Dressage score 40 or below
      B. Cross Country – Clear and no time faults
      C. Stadium – Clear with no time faults


Horse Trials Guidelines

These guidelines are aimed to serve riders who want to compete in horse trials. Regular competition in recognized horse trials requires a major commitment of time, energy, and money from both riders and parents. Those requirements increase as the rider moves up through the levels. These guidelines are strong recommendations for your and your horse’s safety and well-being. You cannot be over prepared! If you have any questions, please ask your instructors.


  1. Ride an average of 5+ days per week.
  2. Be fit enough to walk your cross country course and then ride in the event. You can’t be too fit!
  3. Ride at least 10 minutes each ride in two-point.
  4. Ride at least 10 minutes each ride without stirrups.


  1. Ridden at least 5 days per week (can include lessons). This should include the following:
    1. Dressage:
      1. This does not just mean practice the tests.
      2. You should practice circles, transitions, bending, keeping the horse on the bit, etc.
    2. Field:
      1. Walk around the field as much as possible.
        1. Use it as a warm-up and/or cool-down for your everyday rides and lessons. The more time you spend out there, the more comfortable you and your horse will be cross country.
      2. Ride around the field doing set work.
        1. Three 5-minute trot sets with 3-minute walks in-between
        2. Three 2-minute canter sets with 3-minute walks in-between
        3. If the ground is hard or the field is closed, you can do sets in the Big Outdoor
    1. Big Outdoor:
      1. Do as much of your riding as possible in the Big Outdoor! It simulates the show/XC atmosphere much more than the smaller arenas. The horses will be more focused at the shows if they are comfortable in the Big Outdoor.
  1. Put studs in when you do set work, and at the very least put hind studs in for all lessons. Don’t be lazy! The more you put your studs in, the better you get at it. Also- stud holes that are used regularly are easier to use. This will save you time and energy at events.





Off-Site Showing Guidelines

A Guide to Get You Started Showing Off Property with Full Moon Farm


It’s 4:00am and the alarm clock is going off.  Why?  Because we are going to a horse show!  Again, why do we do this?  Because it is fun!  The experience of showing helps us to show off our progress and the progress of our very cool horses.  All of the hard work is worth it at the end of the day.  Really, it is.

Riding in outside shows with Full Moon Farm is a privilege and should be treated as such. It can seem really intimidating to go off of the farm and ride in front of people you don’t know and who don’t know you.  There seem to be lots of rules and ways that things are done.  Full Moon Farm has very specific ways of doing things– we have worked out this process over the years to make it possible for you and your horse to perform at your best. Some things may seem a bit overkill, but there is a good reason for every thing we do. If we can keep everyone safe and have fun, then it is a good day.

This clinic is designed to prepare you for your first shows off of Full Moon property.  We will go through all of the preparations necessary for the shows and what is expected of you and your helper at the show.  The home shows have a flexible format and are more tailored to learning about the idea of showing.  The outside shows are more competitive and require a new level of “spiffiness.” 

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  • Sign up – You must sign up on the sheet hanging in the barn on the events board. Once you have signed up, you are committed to go to the show.  You will be responsible for all fees, even if you don’t end up going, so be sure that you want to go to the show.  Kids – ask your parents before you sign up.  There is also usually a sign up for the potluck lunch that we do at the shows.  It usually appears on the board about a week out, if we don’t forget.
  • Fees – Horse use fees, coach fees, and trailering are due before we leave on the day of the show.  See the sign up sheet and Ms. Karen’s show notes for details.
  • Entry – Lehigh, Hunter and Jumper shows – We don’t need to enter until the day of the show.  Your instructor/coach will decide which division and fill out the entry form.  You must bring a blank check to pay for your classes at the end of the day.  The number of classes may vary depending on how things are going.

Horse Trials are different.  Entries open about six weeks before the event and close about two weeks before the event.  You need to print the entry form and fill it out.  Next bring it to the barn and we will fill out the division and sign the trainer line if necessary.  Then you mail in the entry.

1.  The Day Before the Show – Check with the instructor/coach as to when you can start on your horse. Remember that the horses may be in lessons.

  • Bathe your horse – There is only one wash stall so get in contact with the folks going to the show and sort out who gets the wash stall when. Do not take forever to bathe your horse.  It is inconsiderate to others who also have to bathe.  If your horse poops clean it up immediately.  If you wash it down the drain you will clog the wash stall.  Put yourself in the next person’s shoes.  If it is cold outside, ask one of the instructors if you should bathe. A little dirt is better than a sick horse.
  • Braid your horse – Horses’ manes should be braided when showing off of the farm.  If you don’t know how, set up a time with an instructor or another rider to learn how. WARNING: It takes practice to braid well.  Practice as much as possible by doing a braid or two every time you ride. There are different ways to braid; everyone has their own preference. (Ms. K doesn’t mind rubber band braids, but others feel everyone should take the time to learn to braid in yarn.
  • Put out shipping boots that fit for your horse.  You don’t need to be searching for them in the morning. Also, locate a good lead rope/chain.  If your horse needs a chain, find one and put it at their stall.
  • Clean your tack.  If you don’t know how, ask.
  • Make sure you have 2 clean appropriate saddle pads.  Hunter shows require a fitted pad that fits ½ -1 inch around the edge of the saddle.
  • Load the tack in your car.
  • Help set up hay nets and collect muck supplies for the show day.
  • Go home and make sure you have all of your stuff clean, together and in your car.
  • Set at least two alarms and get some sleep.  Go to sleep early. No slumber parties, etc. Tomorrow is a long day and being tired is no excuse.  
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2.  The Big Day

  • You must have a designated helper of sufficient age and size to help you on the day of the show.  Be nice to them.  You will need them.  You and your helper need to be helping others if you are not riding.  This is a team endeavor.
  • Give yourself more time than you think you need.  Running late makes for poor performance.
  • Arrive at the farm and feed your horse if necessary.
  • Pull your horse out, put studs in if necessary.  Groom and fix the braids that your horse tore out last night.
  • If we are going tacked up put on your saddle and tie the stirrups up.
  • Put on shipping boots.  Make sure that they are tight.
  • All horses should be wearing a leather or breakaway halter.
  • Make sure you have an appropriate lead rope.
  • Fill water jugs and load on trailer
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3.  Full Moon Farm Ritualistic Loading Dance – Loading can be quite dangerous, so follow instructions exactly.  We want do everything possible to prevent injuries to horses and humans.

  • The Fultons will tell you that we are ready to load.
  • Promptly bring your horses out in the order requested
  • Do not try to cram your horse through the small side next to the truck. 
  • NEVER and I mean NEVER stand or walk directly in line with the ramp unless you are at least 60 feet back. That means the width of the indoor.  A horse can travel back more quickly than you can get out of the way. Trust me.  I’ve been run over.  It hurts.
  • Only Mr. Steve, Ms. Karen, and approved people may load and unload horses.
  • If you are asked to catch your job is to take the lead rope from the loader while he/she locks the horse in. If the horse pulls back LET GO.  Do not clip the horse to the tie until the horse is locked in.  Bad things can happen and people can get seriously hurt if you mess this up.
  • IF SOMETHING GOES WRONG – Get out of the way and wait for instructions.  Follow them immediately and don’t question them. There will be time for questions later.  If a horse gets loose, someone should go to the feed room and get some feed in a bucket and deliver it to the nearest FMF owner/employee.
  • After your horse is loaded, go to your car and wait for the trailers to pass.  There is usually a designated car to follow the trailers and block for them.  FMF rigs go first, followed by trailers in order of size, then blocking car. Do not pass the trailers unless you are instructed to do so.
  • While waiting, leave your car in park with your foot off of the brake. It is a bit nerve wracking driving a trailer past a car that looks like it might back into you. 
  • If you are carpooling, please park behind the indoor.
  • When you arrive at the show get your stuff and get to the trailers asap.
  • Unloading is the reverse of loading.  Be ready to receive your horse when he comes off the trailer and take him out of the vicinity of the ramp.
  • Horses are NOT allowed to eat grass off of FMF. Not even one bite.  Your horse could contract a disease that will kill it.  Seriously.
  • No nose to nose contact with other horses.
  • Watch your spacing with other horses when leading.  Do not get within two horse lengths (Dutchess size, not Ruckus size!) of another horse.
  • Warm up plans are made for each show depending on what we are doing.  Make sure you know the plan and are prepared to do your part when you leave the farm.  Example: If you are schooling immediately upon arrival, be wearing boots breeches and helmet when you get to the show.

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4.  Show time!

  • Remember that you represent yourself, your horse, your family, and Full Moon Farm.
  • If we catch you being rude or unfriendly to anyone, especially your parents, you will regret it.
  • No tears allowed unless you are bleeding or something is broken. You are now a horseperson. You’ve gotta learn to suck it up!
  • You might fall off, you might not win a ribbon. It happens to all of us.  See the rule above.
  • Do the best you can.  Set goals for yourself that are not defined by ribbons.  It is entirely possible, even likely, that you will have the ride of your life and not get a ribbon at some point in your show career.  It is also possible/likely to have a horrible ride and win the class.  You never know.
  • Pay attention to spacing because most of the other riders won’t.
  • Take care of your horse.  Make sure that you loosen girth between classes and give them water frequently.
  • You and your helper must stay all day and help/cheer on the other riders.  No hiding in your car.  Reference rule 7b.
  • No eating lunch before the official start of the potluck, unless permission is granted beforehand.
  • You will probably be holding your horse for most of the day.  We usually do not load and unload horses frequently during the day. If you think your horse needs to come off, ask once.  Do not ask over and over again.
  • If you are done early, you may take out braids and studs, then boot your horse. We sometimes don’t reboot if it is very hot.

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5.  Time To Go Home

    • Yes, you are exhausted, but your first responsibility is to your horse.
    • Help clean up the trailer area and pack up.
    • Follow the trailers to the barn and get up to the unloading area ASAP.
    • Unboot and unbraid if necessary.  Make sure that your horse is groomed and studs are out.
    • Feed your horse and make sure he has a full bucket of water.
    • Help clean up trailers and put stuff away.
    • Sweep grooming barns.
    • Refill your horses’ water
    • Do not leave until you are dismissed.
    • Go home and get some sleep!

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  • Be friendly and helpful.
  • Have a good, competent helper who doesn’t hide in the car.
  • Take good care of your horse and let them know you appreciate them.
  • Say please and thank you.
  • If you see something that needs doing… do it.
  • If you see someone who needs help… help them.
  • Clean up after yourself.
  • Cheer on your FMF teammates.
  • Be early– it makes everyone’s life easier!
  • Better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
  • Pay on time… It makes Ms. Karen a happy person.
  • Have fun. Remember- we do this because we like it!
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  • Be cranky to your parent (or anyone else for that matter).
  • Behave in an unsportsmanlike way.
  • Talk badly about other horses/farms/people (even if they deserve it).
  • Hide in your car.
  • Get in the way during the FMF Ritualistic Loading Dance.
  • Eat lunch before the potluck starts.
  • Be late.
  • Blame your horse if you don’t get the ribbon you wanted.
  • Parents/Helpers – Do not do everything for your kid. They need to figure stuff out for themselves and learn to be responsible human beings.
  • Riders:  If your helper/ parent isn’t sitting down, then you shouldn’t be either, unless you are given special permission.
  • Interrupt if Ms. K and Mr. Steve are in conference.
  • Leave the barn before you are dismissed. 

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Good lead rope/chain
Show JacketBreakaway halter
Show shirtShipping Boots
Ratcatcher collar with pin(hunters)Brush
Stock Tie (Eventing) Preferably not pre-tied.Curry Comb
BreechesHoof pick
Boots – clean and polishedStud kit if necessary
Garters if you are wearing jodsFly Spray
Hair netShow sheen
GlovesGreen spot remover or other cleaning stuff
CropBraid kit
Spurs if necessaryYarn
Change of clothesComb
Spare glasses/contacts if you wear themYarn needle
TowelSeam ripper
HairbrushQuick braid
SunscreenBridle(s) with appropriate bit(s) – ask if you are not positive
If you are going to a horse trials:Martingale if your horse uses one
Body ProtectorStanding for hunters
Medical ArmbandRunning for horse trials–don’t forget the rein stops
Cross County clothesGirth/Girth cover
Compete change of clothesSaddle Pad
 Fitted for hunters
 Square for event or jumpers
 Any other  special padding your horse wears aka bounce pads
 Galloping boots for horse trials
 Bell boots for shipping if your horse is wearing studs
 If your horse normally wears bell boots, put velcro ones on for warm up and take them off before showing or you will be disqualified
 Sheet to put over your horse if the weather needs it

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COVID-19 Information

We are open on a modified schedule.
Please read our current policies below.

EVERYONE on the farm MUST:


At this time, parents/spectators are not permitted up at the barn or riding arenas, unless their rider meets ANY of the criteria below:

  • 6 years of age or younger
  • has had fewer than 6 lessons here at FMF
  • is at the barn for a practice/lease/free ride

If a rider meets any of those criteria, ONE parent/spectator may accompany them to the barn and may watch their lesson from the PCU (viewing room). Spectators must check in with the instructor to be granted access to the PCU.