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May 5, 2014

USHJA Hosts Open Forums To Discuss Green Hunter Eligibility

The USHJA will host their biggest open forum to discuss the future of green hunters on May 12 in Lexington, Ky. Mollie Bailey photo.

The U.S. Hunter Jumper Association will host an open forum to discuss the future of green hunters, green eligibility and age restrictions next Monday, May 12, at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. The meeting will take place at 10:30 a.m. in the VIP area by the Sheila C. Johnson Arena.

This meeting is the biggest in a series of forums held across the country. USHJA President Bill Moroney, USHJA Vice President and head of the Hunter Working Group Mary Babick and U.S. Equestrian Federation National Hunter Chair Geoff Teall will run the meeting. 

The USHJA has already hosted a few meetings on the topic across the country and has more planned. Aside from the Lexington meeting, the time and dates for these upcoming meetings are tentative, so please email Babick to confirm. 

•Zone 1: New England Medal Finals, Westhampton, Mass.—Oct. 16

•Zone 2: Stirrup Cup Finals, Harrisburg, Pa.—Aug. 23

•Zone 4: Atlanta Summer Classic I, Atlanta, Ga.—June 11

•Zone 5: Kentucky Spring Classic, Lexington, Ky.—May 12 & Showplace Spring Spectacular Final, Wayne, Ill.—June 17

•Zone 6: TBD

•Zone 7: Lake St. Louis Indoor Preview, St. Louis, Mo.—Sept. 6

•Zone 8: TBD

•Zone 9: Oregon High Desert Classic I & II—Date TBD

•Zone 10: TBD

•Zone 12: Zone 12 Finals, Anchorage, Alaska—July 11

Already occurred

•Zone 3: Lexington Spring Encore, Lexington, Va.—April 24

•Zone 8: Scottsdale Spring Festival, Scottsdale, Ariz.—March 12

•Zone 9: Spring National Hunter, Monroe, Wash.—April 10

Why The Meetings?

The current rule defining green status eligibility (HU103) took effect Dec. 1, 2013. It raised plenty of controversy in part as it passed as an extraordinary rule change last November, therefore bypassing the usual lengthy rule change process.

The previous rule defined a first year green hunter as one competing in classes where national specifications require horses to jump 3'6" or higher. But horses don’t apply to compete in a green division (unless it’s a reinstatement), and the USEF doesn’t check records for eligibility unless there’s a problem. In practice most hunters imported from Europe start their careers in the pre-green or first year green ring, regardless of what height they jumped in foreign competition. 

The current rule clarifies that USEF, Equine Canada and Fédération Equestre Internationale competitions count toward a horse’s green status. The rules also allows horses under 6 years old that competed above 3'6" at FEI competitions to compete as pre-green or first year horses, and those under 7 competing at 3'6" or above as second year horses.

That rule change was set into motion after inquiries into top finishers at last August’s debut $157,000 USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship revealed that multiple horses had extensive European show experience, skirting the letter of the previous USEF rule.

Babick’s received a lot of feedback on the new rule, and most of it has been negative, prompting this series of open forums.

“I think we’ve managed to make people unhappy across the board,” said Babick. “I still think we did the best we could have given the situation we were in: It was either do what we did or have no pre-green division at all. I think people who are buying in Europe are angry because the FEI website isn’t necessarily up to date, and the people who breed in this country are unhappy because they’re not getting a level playing field with the European horses.”

Topics on the agenda include the possibility of revamping the pre-green and green divisions, perhaps by age, and redefining green eligibility, perhaps as starting from the moment a horse first shows at a 3' hunter or equitation class at a North American show.

“I am open to listening to anyone who has a better idea,” said Babick.

The Chronicle of the Horse will have analysis and coverage from the meeting in our May 26 issue. Email Mary Babick at with questions or ideas regarding the future of green eligibility.

 
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