Spring has arrived and many domestic events across the country are ramping up for a busy 2022 season in an almost post-pandemic world. With show season upon us, many Sport Licence Holders (SLH) have or are in the process of completing their registration for competition and realized the costs that are required to become an Equestrian Canada (EC) SLH and the importance of sanctioned events. Maria-Christina Lepore, EC’s Manager, Competition Services, is going to take a deeper dive in how important it is for the events to be sanctioned and safe for competitors to attend.

To compete at a sanctioned competition, one must belong to both their provincial/territorial sport organization (PTSO) and EC, which requires paying the respective provincial membership and sport licence fee. When an event lists a competition fee on its entry, this is generally based on the show needing to cover what they charge to ensure safety, rules, and a steward—but it is not directly an EC fee. 

So, you ask what is a sanctioned competition? 

A competition sanctioned by EC has met a minimum set of criteria where safety, fairness and horse welfare are prioritized. Sanctioned competitions have certified officials, appropriate levels of insurance and are governed by the Rules of EC. The base rate of having a competition sanctioned is $53. However, this amount is dependent on the level and amount of the prize money offered.

Some fees charged to competitors are levies which are collected by the competition on behalf of EC. The levies at hunter/jumper, dressage, endurance, and eventing competitions are used to support discipline programs. Equine Drug Testing fees are collected at all EC sanctioned events and vary by level. These fees are submitted to EC from the organizers and fund the Equine Medication Control program. When you see an Equine Medication Control Technician at an event, those are the equine drug testing fees at work.

When a competition would like to receive sanctioning, the organizer first sends in a competition application form which starts the competition file, providing us all the details of the event. Also collected for every competition are proof of insurance, prize list, prize list approval by the Steward, biosecurity self-assessment, COVID declaration and the sanctioning fee. We also double-check that all stewards and officials are current and meet the criteria to work at the level of competition – this is a very hands-on process, but ensures the safety of all horses and riders at the event. Once all the requirements are met, EC approves the sanctioning. 

Desk Of: Competition Department explains sanctioned events

Competition Organizers

We caught up with a few of our amazing competition organizers, stewards and officials across Canada who are involved firsthand in the process of organizing, officiating and registering with EC to host a show. Karen Sparks, Sandra Conrad, Chelsea van Lierde and Ali Buchanan provided insightful experiences working with sanctioned events.

Sparks, who is EC’s Jumping Committee Chair and Executive Director of Wesley Clover Parks in Ottawa, ON, “strives to be leaders in equestrian sport through setting and maintaining high standards for all of its activities. In order to, provide the highest quality of services to the community and competitors, we choose to sanction all our equestrian events in all three Olympic disciplines,” said Sparks. “The use of EC’s rules and hiring of EC accredited officials are of extreme importance and frankly a necessity to running our events safely. EC provides a framework for fair play, risk management and athlete welfare, both equine and human.”

Conrad, who is from Lawrencetown, NS, is a Senior EC Hunter Jumper course designer, EC jumper judge and general, dressage and jumper steward. When she accepts a contract to officiate a competition that is sanctioned by EC, she “knows that I have a consistent set of rules and guide – lines that will assist and direct my role as an official.” Conrad added “this becomes important to me so I can offer consistent and expected service to all the players inclusive of the management teams for the organizers and the participants.”

The Saint-Lazare, QC native van Lierde organizes Gold Dressage competitions and has the experience of organizing competitions in Quebec, and finds the process very accessible and easy, “it’s quite simple and the EC competition department provides very good support.” She added “Sanctioning shows keeps a certain uniformity amongst the shows and ensures there is a circuit available to riders no matter which discipline. It also keeps a certain level of quality and competence amongst the officials as they need to be qualified and certified to officiate at sanctioned shows.”

Buchanan, who’s from Langley, BC, is an EC Senior Dressage and Jumper judge and has organized Gold Dressage Competitions for over 20 years. Buchanan sanctions competitions with EC “to ensure they are meaningful events that engage experienced licensed officials and follow EC rules, which ensure fairness in sport for all participants.” He added “the results are submitted following the competition which contribute to the EC National Rankings at all dressage levels, and are used for several national award programs. Competitors must be current EC license holders who also ensure that all competitors carry suitable personal liability insurance at the events.”

What’s new in 2022?

We’re excited to return to a substantial competition season in 2022! We want to ensure that participation at a sanctioned competition is safe, fair, and a great experience for all involved. If it has been a year or two since you have competed at a sanctioned event, here are some things that may be different this season:


Organizers of all sanctioned events have been provided access to biosecurity resources and are required to complete a self-assessment of their biosecurity measures in order to keep your horses safe and limit the spread of disease. Welfare for our equine partners is a priority.

Safe Sport

This is the first season that all coaches who attend sanctioned competitions must hold coach status. This involves training and approval from our coaching department, to ensure a safe and welcoming inclusive environment at sanctioned events. If you have any questions about this, our coaching team is a fabulous resource.

National Rankings

In 2021, our ranking system was introduced to track points earned at rated classes at gold hunter/jumper and dressage shows. These rankings allow sport licence holders to track their performance against all riders across the country!

We are excited to announce that in 2022, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair will be using the National Rankings to select their entries for invitation to compete at the National Championships for EC rated Hunter/Jumper divisions.

Remember, all results for silver & gold hunter/jumper, dressage and eventing competitions are shared on the Equestrian Canada Competitions & Results page.

Training Courses

Every sport licence holder 18 years or older is required to complete the Concussion Awareness training and Fostering Healthy Equestrian Environments modules, two free courses found on the E-Campus, within your MyEC Portal. This helps ensure everyone participating at EC sanctioned competitions is familiar with these two very important pieces.

For more information or questions, please contact:

Maria-Christina Lepore
Manager, Competition Services
1 343-308-5028

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