At the FEI Board meeting June 4-5 in Lausanne, the FEI Jumping Director announced the Jumping Committee’s decision to allow multiple CSIOs (Concours de Saut International Officiel) for seniors in one country, and in particular in Canada, Germany, and the UAE, on the 2025 FEI calendar. In the past, only one FEI Longines Nations Cup League series event per country per year was allowed, making it very difficult for riders in a country as vast as Canada to gain meaningful experience at the FEI team level without having to travel to Europe. While Canada has previously enjoyed having two Nations’ Cup dates (one Series event at Thunderbird and a non-Series event at Spruce Meadows), the change in 2024 to the Longines League of Nations eliminated the Thunderbird date.

Tentative dates for the CSIOs featuring Nations Cup competitions are:

Thunderbird, Langley BC, May 28-June 1 2025 – CSIO4*
Caledon Equestrian Park, ON – July 16-20 2025 – CSIO3*
Spruce Meadows, AB – Sept 2-7 2025 – CSIO5*

Ocala, FL – March 18-23 – CSIO5* (Longines League of Nations qualifier)
Traverse City, MI – TBD
Wellington, FL – TBD

Note that these Canadian Nations Cups are different from the new Longines League of Nations series ‒ the FEI has confirmed that they are “standalone events and not part of an FEI series” so there will be no points tabulated and no Final held, except for the Ocala NC which will be a League of Nations qualifier. They will, however, provide a valuable opportunity for riders to gain mileage in a team situation, similar to the EEF (European Equestrian Federation) Nations Cup series held in Europe, where Canada placed second at CSIO3* Peelbergen. This is imperative to being prepared to be successful on World Championship, Pan Am and Olympic squads.

Canada’s show jumping chef d’équipe and Olympic veteran Ian Millar was instrumental, along with others, in bringing this idea to fruition. “If you go back to when the GCT [Global Champions Tour] started, there were a lot of FEI date exceptions made for that tour. They were done on the basis that they were a league and that special rules should apply. The EEF is a league and that’s why there are certain exemptions for them as well.”

Millar approached Keean White and the pair discussed establishing a North American 3* Nations Cup league similar to EEF, “because then we would be able to take advantage of certain exemptions in the rules,” specifically, that each county can only have one Nations Cup a year. The International Jumping Riders Club and Rodrigo Pessoa also got behind the idea and pushed the FEI as well. “The riders in Europe were having this lovely opportunity to get ready for ‘prime time’ whereas North American and South American riders were not availed of the same opportunities,” Millar noted.

Some might argue that learning to handle the demands of individual competition can prepare a rider for a team atmosphere. “It’s an entirely different level of pressure,” Millar said. “To say once a rider learns how to handle pressure it should be across the board in all circumstances is not correct. A rider might learn to handle the pressures of a grand prix on a Saturday night or Sunday afternoon, but you toss them into a Nations Cup it’s a different type of pressure and they’ve got to learn to handle that.

“It’s not just your [horse] ownership group, it’s the owners of the other three horses on the team, the grooms of the other three horses. It’s a big deal. You are embarrassed if you don’t get it right on national television for sure, but what really stings is letting down your teammates.”

A man giving a victory sign.

Keean White will host a 3* Nations Cup at Caledon Equestrian Park. (MacKenzie Clark / keean_white Instagram)

Keean White, who runs Angelstone Tournaments and Major League Show Jumping, will have a 3* Nations Cup on his 2025 schedule at Caledon Equestrian Park. White has for many years seen a huge barrier to up-and-coming riders and horses in this country.

“For the last decade or so, our developing rider tour has had to go to Europe and try to get invitations into two- or three three-star Nations Cups, and it costs the athletes $100,000 between flying the horses over and being there for a month,” he explained. “Economically, it’s been super tough and they’ve had a hard time getting invitations even to get into shows. In North America, we haven’t really had a similar developing riders tour available.”

He continued, “North America is really only three countries, whereas Europe has fifteen or twenty in the same area. The FEI rule was basically one Nations Cup per country; I think they made an exception to North America to get it up to two. But geographically, the West has always had the four-star Nations Cup [at Thunderbird] and Spruce [Meadows] has their historic five-star Nations Cup. So there wasn’t room for a developing riders tour under the existing rules; updating this rule allows Canada and the US ‒ and hopefully Mexico as well ‒ to have a three-star Nations Cup. This gives riders in the US and Canada the opportunity to jump something at home with the same sort of benefits as what they get when they go to those tours over in Europe.”

White has already pitched the Nations Cup idea to riders from around the world, thanks to his MLSJ rosters, with encouraging feedback. “We’ve got a lot of Europeans that have joined the Major League tour this year, a bunch that are coming over for Toronto, Ottawa, Traverse City and Greenwich to be part of this first half,” he explained. “Putting on a Nations Cup, we want to make sure that we can get more countries than just Canada, the US and Mexico. We should have an Irish team, a team from Israel, a Belgian team. We’re working on a couple of others, but I think we’ll be able to get eight to 10 countries competing.

As the 10-year anniversary of the Pan Am Games in Caledon approaches, White is in the process of investing $4 million into the CEP through improved infrastructure, new stalls and other upgrades. “Caledon deserves to have a trademark event. I think a Nation’s Cup fits that venue perfectly. ”

Millar said, “I applaud the FEI for allowing us to do this provisionally for one year. We have to prove that it’s going to work and that it is a good thing. Whether it’s going to be long-term or not, we wait and see… The fact that the FEI is allowing this is perhaps an indication of a shift in their consideration for North America – and is very welcome.”