FEI Competition Classifications

Equestrian sport is riddled with terms and acronyms. One of the purposes of establishing Horse Sport Ireland was to try and bring the sport and breeding sides of the industry closer together, with each having a better understanding of the other’s needs.

You regularly hear phrases like the horse is a ‘successful eventer in the UK’, ‘international showjumper’ and so on. The question is: when you see a competition result for a horse, just how good a result was it? For the purposes of this article we will focus on showjumping and eventing and try to put the competitions in context.


All international competitions are fun by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI). They use codes to signify the level of international shows. The code to designate and international showjumping competition is ‘CSI’. The highest level international show is a CSI 5* down to the lowest, which is a CSI 1*.

While the show level is indicated with an asterisk, it is actually called a star! The top level shows are referred to as ‘CSI five stars’. The level of prize money generally dictates the star ratings of the show, but maximum and minimum heights apply at each level. In general, the highest height jumped at a 5* would be 1.60m, which is the height all top level Nations Cups are jumped at. If a Nations Cup is taking place at a show, then the show will have the letter ‘O’ appended; i.e. ‘CSIO’.

For World Cup qualifiers, which take place indoors during the winter, the letter ‘W’ is appended; i.e. ‘CSI-W’. In general, the FEI allows only one Nations Cup in each country per year and only one World Cup qualifier per country per year.


The FEI classify eventing in classes rather than shows. The codes ‘CCI’ and ‘CIC’ are used to describe an international eventing class. Historically, most events were ‘CCI’ three-day events but, in recent years, a shorter version of CCI competitions, called CIC classes, have become common. For clarity, the difference between CIC and CCI events is that while the classes are at a similar level in terms of the difficulty of the jumps and the dressage test, the cross country element is shorter, which means that horses can compete more frequently and the competition can be run more quickly.

In some cases all three phases take place on the same day. The ‘CIC’ classes are often referred to as the ‘one-day’ version of three-day eventing. The highest FEI level in eventing is actually 4*; there are no 5* classes. In fact, there are only five four-star events in the world each year, the best known being Badminton. World Cup qualifiers are run at CIC3* level and generally carry the addendum ‘W’; i.e. CIC3*-W. The table sets out how the classes are rated.

Each week, Horse Sport Ireland publishes the list of Irish riders and horses who will be representing Ireland in international competitions in the coming fortnight. In many cases these riders will be riding Irish-bred horses. Successful results for Irish competitors are subsequently published on the HSI website. You can follow Team Ireland Equestrian on Facebook and Twitter.

Horse Sport Ireland also provides comprehensive results for Irish-bred horses to The Irish Field each week.


Category International examples Examples in Ireland
Olympic Games London 2012
World Championships World Equestrian Games 2010 – Kentucky
European Championships Madrid 2011
CSI 5* All Meydan/Super League Nations Cups, all Global Champions Tours, most World Cup qualifiers CSIO 5* Dubllin
CSI 4* Hickstead Derby, most non-Super League Nations Cups
CSI 3* Some non-Super League Nations Cups, e.g. the Nations Cups of Finland & Norway in 2010
CSI 2* Several around the world, Grand Prix height 1.50m Balmoral CSI 2*, Mullingar CSI 2*, Tattersalls CSI 2*
SJI Premier Series Grand Prix 9 shows around Ireland in 2010, Grand Prix height 1.50m (see www.sji.ie)
CSI 1* TRM National Grand Prix 17 SJI shows around Ireland in 2010, Grand Prix height 1.40m (see www.sji.ie) Cavan CSI 1*
HSI Chippison Spring Tour 11 shows in the spring, height 1.35m
1.30m leagues Often run at regional level
Grade International examples Classes in Ireland
Olympic Games London 2012
World Championships World Equestrian Games 2010 – Kentucky
CCI 4* There are only five in the world: Badminton, Kentucky, Luhmuhlen, Burghley, Pau
European Championships Luhmuhlen, Germany 2011
CCI 3* Braham, Blenheim, Saumur Ballindenisk (Sept 2010)
CIC 3* Belton, Burnham Market, Barbury Castle, Hartpury, etc. Ballindenisk (Spring 2010), Tattersalls World Cup qualifier
CNC 3* (referred to as ‘advanced’ in the UK) National classes in Ireland, not very common (see www.eventingireland.com)
CCI 2* European Young Rider (U21) Championships Tattersalls, Ballindenisk
CIC 2* Various locations Ballindenisk, Camphire
CNC 2* (referred to as ‘intermediate’ in the UK) One day national classes in Ireland (seewww.eventingireland.com)
CCI 1* European Junior Rider (U18) Championships Tattersalls
CIC 1* Ballindenisk, Camphire
CNC 1* Various locations in Ireland (seewww.eventingireland.com)
Novice classes Various locations in Ireland (seewww.eventingireland.com)