Early Days

Eventing Explained: CIC, CCI, and stars**** (International Competition Levels)

Stars, CIC, and CCI, oh my! 

Today we’ll go over the international competition levels of eventing. As compared to US Eventing Association recognized levels, these competition levels follow international rules governed by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI).

CIC and CCI are types of competitions. The chief difference between CIC/Short Format and CCI/Long Format is that CCI has a significantly longer cross country course. Historically, CCI/Long Format included 2 additional phases: Steeplechase, and Roads and Tracks. Those phases were removed in 2004.

The stars (***) indicate the level of competition. Generally one-star is equivalent to Preliminary, two-stars equivalent to Intermediate, and three-stars equivalent to Advanced. Four-star competitions have no equal – they are the absolute highest level of eventing competition in the world.

CIC: Concours International Combiné
This is the FEI Short Format Competition and runs at one-star, two-star, and three-star levels. The competition may take place over one or more days. Dressage must come first but the jumping phases can go in either order.  The cross country course is shorter than in CCI/Long Format.

CCI: Concours Complet International
This is the FEI Long Format Competition that runs one-star through four-star levels. Competition takes place over 3 or more days. Dressage is first, followed by cross country, followed by stadium jumping.  “The Cross Country course will be of such a length that the Horse is required to be supremely fit and stamina will be required for success” (FEI Rulebook Section 502.1.2).

Both types of competitions use the same dressage tests for each level. The tests are more complex than the USEA counterpart levels, and require 2 judges instead of 1. Vet inspections (jogs) are required at both types of competition.

All levels have minimum eligibility requirements (MERs) for horse and rider teams that include performance standards for each phase of competition that must be reached at competitions within the past year.

CCI*** jump judging at Galway Downs

Let’s take a closer look at the Advanced/3-Star level:

Cross Country Comparison
FEI Short Format
FEI Long Format
Max distance 3990 meters 3990 meters 6270 meters
Max # of efforts 40 35 40
Max speed 570 meters/min 570 meters/min 570 meters/min
Max time 7 minutes 7 minutes 11 minutes
Max height fixed 3’11” 1.2 m (3’11”) 1.2 m (3’11”)
Max height brush 4’7″ 1.4 m (4’7″) 1.4 m (4’7″)
Max drop 6’7″ 2 m (6’7″) 2 m (6’7″)
Stadium Jumping Comparison
Identical for all 3:
Max efforts 15
Max height 1.25 m (4’1″)
Max distance 600m
Max speed 375 meters/minute
Dressage Comparison
One judge
Same FEI tests for CIC & CCI
Very hard
Two judges

Advanced and CIC*** have just 1 difference in XC: the max # of efforts. Meanwhile the CCI*** has a 57% increase in course distance. All 3 have identical stadium jumping, and my anecdotal understanding is that the FEI dressage tests are more challenging than the USEA tests, but my personal understanding of dressage is not developed enough to be able to review, confirm, and explain this.

Again, the only 4-star competitions are available in CCI/Long Format, with an even longer and more challenging XC course than 3-star.

Comments and questions welcomed!!

FEI Rules
Stuart Horse Trials Eventing Handbook

Previous Eventing Explained Posts:

6 comments on “Eventing Explained: CIC, CCI, and stars**** (International Competition Levels)

  1. I love the wording in the rulebooks. “the Horse is required to be supremely fit.” I don't know why that tickles my fancy, it just does.

    Thanks for such a great write-up, I'll definitely point my students this way next time they ask about it. This is much more comprehensive than my usual “it's just really hard and you have to be uber talented but it's pretty much the same thing as prelim?” Hah hah.


  2. Thanks the excellent posts about eventing! The comparison chart/table was very helpful.


  3. I aaaalways get these mixed up. Thanks for the review!


  4. didn't realize the long format v short format distinction. idk how i would do if our xc rounds were doubled in distance, even in our current green-as-grass divisions… i think i'd die haha


  5. Thank you- well explained.

    Another random question…would it be fair to say that a warmblood will cope ok with the CIC format but when your goal is to make it to the CCI format it will be better to look at a horse with more THB in its pedigree?


  6. That hypothesis makes sense given that CCIs have longer courses than CICs. However, my impression is that many upper level riders prefer lots of TB in their horses just to get to the upper levels at all, whether CCI or CIC.


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