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Making sure you’re competition ready 

In just three simple steps…

Text: Amelia Campbell-Horne

After a few weeks of feasting and festivities, we are back to reality and ready to jump right into the 2024 competition season. If this isn’t your first rodeo, then hopefully, you have set aside some funds for your annual subscriptions so you won’t get too anxious as the bills roll in. In any case, here is your three-step plan for getting ready to compete in 2024…

NOTE: We’ve focused on the three Olympic disciplines to avoid making this overly complex, but if you’d like to hear about the others as well, just let us know on email or social and we’ll put something together for you!

Step 1 – Register with a Club

Each rider must be registered with a club to complete their SAEF (Step 2) and their discipline-specific (Step 3) memberships. There are a wide variety of clubs across South Africa, some that only offer specific disciplines and some that offer several. Some, at first glance, might look pricey, whereas others seem cheap in comparison, but beware, as the offerings vary widely!

Choosing the right club might be quite a challenging decision to make, so here are some pointers that we think might be helpful:

  1. You can sign up for more than one club, so if you are a bit overwhelmed and unsure but want to get out and compete, you can select a more affordable club, to begin with to get your SAEF and discipline memberships approved.
  2. You can find a comprehensive list of all the clubs by region on the SAEF webpage under ‘Participate: Find a Club.’
  3. A few of the ‘bigger’ venues (KPC and Durban Shongweni Club) charge ‘non-member’/daily fees at every competition. Perhaps weigh up how many times you plan on competing at that venue in a year to decide whether it is better to pay the ‘non-member’ fees each time you compete or to bite the bullet and get the annual membership.
  4. Check what extra perks the clubs might offer. Some give member discounts at their restaurants, allow riders to ride in their warm-up arenas at all times and hire out the competition arenas from time to time, and give early access to event tickets and heads up on the opening of entries.

Step 2 – Registering with the National Governing Body: the SAEF

Register or sign up for your annual South African Equestrian Federation (SAEF) membership. The SAEF is the National Governing Body of all equestrian sport in South Africa. It is registered as the official Equestrian Federation with both SASCOC (South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee) and the FEI. As such, the SAEF is responsible for ensuring adherence to both FEI and SASCOC rules and regulations, keeping the sport drug-free, and putting the welfare of the horse first. Amongst various other important roles and responsibilities, the SAEF is also responsible for supplying the SAEF passports that all horses are required to have to compete in any of the SAEF disciplines.


Did you know?

There are over 17 equestrian disciplines affiliated with the SAEF. These include

FEI-recognised disciplines:

  • Dressage
  • Eventing
  • Showjumping
  • Vaulting
  • Endurance
  • Reining
  • Para-equestrian
  • Driving

Non-FEI disciplines:

  • Western Mounted Games
  • Mounted Archery
  • Showing
  • Saddle Seat
  • Equitation
  • Tent pegging
  • English Mounted Games
  • Polo
  • Polocrosse

Registrations and Renewals of SAEF memberships are quick and easy and should be completed online through the SAEF online portal. This portal can be accessed from their main webpage (www.saef.org.za), where you click on the ‘register here’ button. Everyone will need to register once before they can log in, even if they have registered in previous years. Once you are in, you can update your membership under the ‘members’ tab and pay straight away.

The 2024 SAEF membership fees are either R510 for Junior Riders or R825 for Senior Riders (over 18). There is an additional charge per rider and per horse to compete in FEI competitions, and if you wish to compete abroad, you will be required to purchase an international license.

If it’s your first time signing up for the SAEF, however, you can apply for a special entry-level membership that is free! This initiative is aimed at encouraging participation in equestrian sport and is also only available to those who compete at entry level in their chosen discipline. Once you upgrade, you will need to pay your full membership fee.


Fact box: Got a new horse for Christmas?

  • Make sure to download, complete and email in a SAEF’ change of ownership’ form.
  • If you have purchased an off-the-track thoroughbred that only has an NHRA passport, you will need to apply for a SAEF Group IX passport.
  • All the relevant forms can be found on the SAEF webpage under ‘passports’.

STEP 3 – Register/renew your discipline membership

This can generally be done through online portals on the discipline-specific webpage. We decided to have a bit of fun and rank our Olympic disciplines from most to least costly while checking these systems out…

Most expensive – SHOWJUMPING

Head to www.sashowjumping.co.za, and you can either ‘sign up’ to register or ‘log in’ to renew. You will then have the option to click on the big blue ‘Renew SASJ 2024 membership’. On this page, you make your selections, and you will be taken through to a Payfast engine to complete your payment.

SASJ Membership Fees FOR 2024:

U12 Rider: FREE

U18 Rider: R715

Adult Category 2 (If you are competing 1.25m or lower): R715

Adult Category 1 = (Open Riders – 1.30m and higher): R1,430

Horse/Pony Registration: R220 per horse

Recreational riders: FREE

Owners, officials and grooms: FREE

Sponsors: R2,000

Middle of the road – DRESSAGE

Head to www.dressagesa.com and then select ‘login’, which will give you the option to go to ‘Members Portal’ or ‘New members Registration’. Once logged in, you can renew your membership by selecting the ‘Member renewal’ tab.

DSA Membership Fees FOR 2024:

Graded U18 Riders: FREE

Graded Adult Riders: R740

Non-Graded Adult Riders: R220

Owners: R280

Officials:

R220

Sponsors: FREE

Horse/Pony Registration: R150 per horse

Bargain price – EVENTING

Head to www.eventingza.co.za and select ‘Login’ and then ‘Rider Member Login’. This portal is based on the same system as the new SAEF system and, as such, is easy to follow if you have made it through your SAEF registrations.

Eventing SA Membership Fees FOR 2024:

U18 Riders (Pony and Junior): R150

Adult 2* – 4*: R490

Adult 85cm – 1*: R360

Unaffiliated (65-75cm): FREE for your horse as well!

Officials:

FREE

Sponsors: R700

Horse/Pony Registration: R265 per horse

*Temporary Membership (allows you to compete in two events): R150

And that’s it!

Once all of these three organisations have signed off on each other, you are A for away and ready to enter your first competition… We wish you all a super successful competition year!


Final tips 

  • KNOW your FEI and SAEF RULES! – The FEI has some super apps available to assist if you are unsure of any general, tack or doping rules, i.e. the “FEI RULE APP” and the “FEI TACK APP”. Breaking the rules can result in elimination, disqualification, fines and, in some cases, lengthy bans. It is your job as a rider to know your rules, as ultimately, you are the one who will pay the price!
  • Always take your horse’s PASSPORT to competitions with you.

CLIPPING caution:

  • You are not allowed to clip your horse’s legs three days before a competition if your blades will cut the hair shorter than 2mm.
  • You will also not be allowed to compete if your horse’s sensory hairs have been clipped or shaved (muzzle, eyes and ears). The only exception is if they have been removed by a veterinarian or for veterinary treatment.

VACCINES

  • Make sure your horse’s African Horse Sickness (AHS) vaccination schedule is up to date. Horses must receive one AHS 1 and one AHS 2 annually with a minimum of 21 days between administration of the vaccines.
  • Equine Influenza vaccinations must be administered at least once every 12 months after a horse has received his initial two courses. If a horse is competing, he will need a booster to have been given between 21 days and six months after his last vaccine.
  • You CANNOT compete with your horse for seven days after any vaccine. [end box]