Above photo: Matthias Tromp and Quinta competing in a FEI 2* Event at HITS Balmoral. Photo by Emy Lucibello.

By Ashley Shaw

What Does CSIO5* Mean Anyway?

As an aspiring Grand Prix rider who currently competes in the Junior Jumper divisions, it is not uncommon to find me at home live streaming jumper events on Saturday nights. There is so much to learn from watching the world’s best riders and horses compete at international events, but one thing that keeps catching my attention are all of the FEI abbreviations. What’s the difference between CSI and CSIO? What makes a 5* more challenging than a 4*? To satisfy my curiosity, I delved into the FEI Rulebook as well as a few other sites to discover the baseline information needed to decode what each event title means.

FEI World Cup Finals in Omaha, Nebraska. Photo courtesy of Irene Powlick.

To start, FEI stands for Fédération Equestre Internationale, and it is the international governing body for equestrian sports, headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland. The events we see held at hunter/jumper shows are CSI events, short for Concours de Saut International, which indicates show jumping. Other FEI events include CDI, which is dressage, as well as CCI and CIC, both specifying eventing. Sometimes competitions are labeled as CSIO, meaning there is a Nations Cup competition. A CSI-W marks a show with a World Cup Qualifier class, and each country can only hold one Nations Cup and one World Cup Qualifier per year. If there is an H in the title, such as CHIO, it designates that the event is hosting more than one discipline. Done with the letters, now on to the numbers.

FEI Event held at the Kentucky Horse Park, photo by Intern Vyla Carter.

Similar to USET Talent Searches, the specifications for FEI classes are distinguished by “stars,” a one star being the lowest level and a five star being the highest. Each star level has an abundance of requirements and detailing, so I attempted to highlight the basis of each one. You may notice that the prize money amounts are a bit odd, but this is because they are set using the Swiss franc. The abbreviation ‘NC’ stands for Nations Cup, and the speed is how the time allowed is calculated.

One Star (1*)

  • Maximum Prize Money: $57,499
  • NC Jump Height: 1.00 – 1.20m
  • NC Speed: 350m/min

Two Star (2*)

  • Prize Money: $57,500 – $172,999
  • NC Jump Height: 1.10 – 1.30m
  • NC Speed: 350m/min

Three Star (3*)

  • Prize Money: $173,000 – $287,399
  • NC Jump Height: 1.20-1.45m
  • NC Speed: indoor of 350m/min; outdoor of 375m/min

Four Star (4*)

  • Prize Money: $288,400 – $575,399
  • NC Jump Height: 1.30 – 1.50m.
  • NC Speed: indoor of 350m/min; outdoor of 400m/min

Five Star (5*)

  • Prize Money Minimum: $575,400
  • NC Jump Height: 1.30 – 1.60m
  • NC Speed: indoor of 350m/min; outdoor of 400m/min
FEI World Cup Finals in Omaha, Nebraska.
Photo by Intern Irene Powlick.

Other interesting things to note include that the minimum age of the horse changes from six to seven for three, four, and five star events. Four and five star events must also invite a minimum of seven foreign teams to compete. There are many more specifications other than prize money, jump height, and speed that differentiate the levels, so if you are interested in learning more, I would highly advise reading through the FEI Rulebook which can be found on their website.

International show jumping is a world of its own when it comes to rules and regulations, but knowing the baseline facts can be helpful in deciphering what exactly you’re watching. With indoors on the horizon, there are several exciting FEI events coming our way, so be sure to mark your calendars and prepare your live streams – there is much to be learned.


About the Author: Ashley Shaw is a senior at Lafayette High School in St. Louis, MO. She trains with Shannon Hicks and competes in the Junior Hunters and Junior Jumpers, and her goal is to qualify for the Devon Horse Show next year. Outside of riding, she enjoys photography, cooking, and hanging out with her retired horses.

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