An Overview of CDI Entry Requirements

By Heather Oleson

February 2016


CDI is an acronym for Concours Dressage International, which is a dressage competition recognized by the FEI. CDI competitions (“international” shows) have several additional requirements above those necessary for competing in USEF/USDF recognized shows (“national” shows).  As a CDI competitor for many years, in this article I hope to outline those requirements for interested dressage riders who would like to compete in CDIs. 


Pre-Show CDI Requirements


The FEI Passport

All horses entered in CDI competitions are required to have an FEI passport.  Passport applications are available on the USEF website under Horse Services > Forms and Guidelines.  A new FEI passport is $300.  Getting a passport is a process and not something to do a month before a competition. Ideally give yourself a couple months to get the paperwork in and get the passport filled out and approved by the USEF.USEF is pretty good about rushing FEI Passports if necessary but it can be very stressful if you’re driving to a show and don’t know if you’ll have your necessary paperwork in time. 


The FEI passport requires a meticulous diagram of your horse’s markings, coloring, and whorls (cowlicks as we call them in the US) with a corresponding meticulous verbal description.  In addition, as of 2013 all horses newly-registered with the FEI must be microchipped. All the requirements will be detailed in the passport instructions; read all of it before starting work on your passport and follow them to the letter. USEF will send your passport back with corrections if you don’t follow the directions!


Influenza Requirement

All horses entered in CDI competitions are required to show proof of vaccination against influenza. There is an initial requirement of 2 injections for primary vaccination (two shots given between 21 and 92 days apart), then a booster shot every 12 months.  None of these injections can be given in the 7 days preceding entry into the show stabling. Your vet is required to endorse these injections, and there is a section in your FEI passport for keeping this information up-to-date. Also, any companion horse in the CDI barn (a horse that is stabled in the CDI barn, but not competing in the CDI) is also required to show documentation that it has been vaccinated for influenza. If in doubt contact the show secretary about specific requirements. Be prepared to show an invoice from your veterinarian for your companion horse (if you brought a companion horse) during the horse inspection. All of this information is normally provided in the show prize list or it is available through USEF.


FEI Horse and Rider Registration

All horses and riders entered in CDI competitions are also required to register annually with the FEI. This can be done online by logging into My USEF, clicking on FEI Competition Entry and Competing Abroad > 2016 FEI Horse Registration and/or 2016 FEI Rider Registration (note that both are required). The forms are also available for download on the USEF webpage (same page as the FEI passport information). These FEI registrations have to be renewed annually. Note that a USEF Horse Recording number is mandatory for FEI horse registration, and a USEF membership number is mandatory for getting FEI Rider registration.


Entry Through the FEI Portal       

Yet another difference between USEF shows and CDI competitions: competitors are now required to enter the CDI through the FEI Portal on the USEF website. Note that this is a separate process in addition to mailing or faxing your entry to the show secretary. Your entry in the CDI is NOT confirmed until the show secretary receives your entry. 


To access the FEI portal, once you sign into My USEF, click FEI Competition Entry and Competing Abroad > Manage Entries for U.S. Competitions in the FEI Entry System.  It seems very complex but once you get to that page you will be asked to enter your horse’s name, which show you are attending, which classes, etc. There is a memo detailing the process on the USEF High Performance Dressage page.  Go to the USEF page, click Disciplines > International à Dressage > High Performance. The memo is near the top of the page “Memo to Athletes—FEI Entries for US CDIs.” You can always contact the show secretary or USEF if you have questions about the process.


FEI Rules

Note that CDI competitions are run under separate rules from USEF/USDF competitions. The FEI rules are available on the FEI website. Most notably, the drug rules are different; as an example, no amount of bute is legal at a CDI (unlike a USEF competition). The attire rules are also slightly different; for instance, you can still compete in a top hat at a CDI, although helmets are required when schooling.


Also note that it is a CDI rule that no horse can be removed from the property during the competition without first receiving permission from the show office (this rule is similar to the requirement at USDF Regional Championships). The CDI will have its own warm-up arena and CDI competitors are required to warm-up in that area. 


At The Show


The Horse Inspection (or “in-barn” inspection)

The FEI veterinarian will walk through the CDI barn, typically the morning or afternoon of the FEI jog, and check every horse stabled in the CDI barn.  CDI horses will be required to show their FEI passport and the vet will verify the horse’s identity and often do a basic physical exam.  Sometimes shows will require competitors to turn in their FEI passports when they check in at the office, other times competitors hang on to them until the Horse inspection and then the vet collects them.  Remember to pick up your FEI passport at the office at the end of the show before you leave!!


At the horse inspection the vet will normally do a basic physical exam of the horse, which varies in detail.  I’ve had vets just take a cursory look at my horse, and I’ve also had vets listen to the horse’s heart, lungs, check their legs, even take their temperature.  The process is generally pretty quick (maybe only takes 5 minutes) and is nothing to stress about as long as you have your FEI passport available and up-to-date.  Do note that if you have a “companion horse” in the CDI barn (any horse that is stabled in the CDI barn but not entered in the CDI), that horse will also be required to meet the influenza requirement listed above. They don’t require FEI passports on companion horses, although sometimes they will want to see a Coggins and/or health certificate.


The FEI Jog

The FEI jog is normally held the day before the competition starts. It is a basic test for soundness and your first opportunity to present yourself and your horse to the Ground Jury (the FEI judges). The horses are walked and trotted in-hand on a straight line on hard ground to determine soundness and fitness to compete. Normally the riders present their own horses although in some cases riders will have someone else (a trainer for instance) jog the horse for them. Generally most, if not all, of the judges are present for the FEI jog as well as the FEI vet and FEI steward. Oftentimes riders dress up a little (or a lot) for the jog and the horses are always presented perfectly turned out and braided. Horses are jogged in a simple snaffle bridle. 


Practice jogging your horse in hand a few times at home if this is something you don’t often do.  If the horse is too busy leaping around and won’t trot in a somewhat straight line the judges will have a very hard time determining soundness. The jog is generally run in entry order, although sometimes they will run it by class (PSG first, GP second for instance). Normally an order of go and start time for the jog will be posted at the show office.


If the judges are unsure of your horse’s soundness, or if your horse was too wild for them to see anything, they will often “hold” your horse for re-inspection. Generally it means you wait until everyone else has gone and then you re-jog the horse. I’ve also seen the Ground Jury re-inspect the horse the next morning. This can be very stressful for the competitor, as a “no” from the judges here means your show is over!    


The Draw

Unlike national shows, at CDIs a daily draw is held to determine the ride times for the next day’s classes.  Draw times cannot be changed and if you have a conflict with the National show (say, if you are competing a different horse in the National show), the show secretary may be able to change your national show time but not your CDI time.  Although sometimes they won’t be able to change it.  One of the many reasons it is super important to be nice and appreciative to show secretaries!



Entering a CDI can be a daunting process if you’re trying to go at it on your own for the first time.  In this article I wanted to summarize the main requirements to help first-time CDI riders make sense of the process, but please be sure to contact the show secretary or USEF directly for the final word on entry requirements.  Good luck!!


The US 2016 CDI calendar can be found here.


Heather Oleson is a dressage trainer, instructor, and competitor based in Eagle, ID. She earned all the USDF medals on her self-trained half-Arabian SB Flame Dancer and has trained multiple horses from the start to Grand Prix.


Heather is the 2015 recipient of the Patsy Albers Award, which provides education and training support to the highest placing Grand Prix rider at the USEF High Performance Championships who also competed for the US at a previous North American Junior/Young Rider Championship. Heather is currently campaigning four horses, including Victor, her international Grand Prix horse.


Heather is originally from Beaverton, OR and has a Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy from Stanford University. Her email is and her website is

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