Hunter/jumper show schedules might get an addition in 2015. There are some Rule Change Proposals on the docket intending to create two more Medal classes, the USHJA Hunter Seat Medal and the USHJA Jumping Seat Medal (if approved, these rule changes go into effect on Dec. 1, 2014).
Read our first installment about Rule Change Proposals —including microchipping and mandatory bills of sale—up for discussion at the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association Annual Meeting on Dec. 8-12.
The USHJA Hunter Seat Medal is designated to run at 3’3” and the Jumping Seat Medal at 3’3” to 3’5”. The intent of the proposal is stated as: “To provide a jumping [and hunter] seat quitation class held at 3’3” which will enable competitors to gain valuable experience in classes with similar specifications before entering the national equitation events.” It seems that the USHJA sees a need for a 3’3” stepping stone between the 3’ children’s equitation classes and the 3’6” equitation classes.
Riders in the USHJA Medal classes are not allowed to cross-enter into the USEF Show Jumping Talent Search classes, but are allowed to cross-enter into other 3’6” equitation classes. The Hunter Seat Medal calls for testing, while the Jumping Seat Medal has a jumping phase and a flat phase.
EQ112.13  also creates a sub-chapter in the equitation section of the rule book for jumping seat equitation. The intent reads the this will “Focus on testing a rider’s ability to ride a jumper-style course effectively while maintaining the classic American forward seat of riding.”
One very notable Rule Change Proposal concerns the creation of a Young Rider jumper division. GR1306.1b  changes the definition of an amateur in jumper classes only. “In the Jumper Division, individuals are only eligible to compete as amateurs from the beginning of the competition year in which they reach 22.”
This is backed up by JP117.1 , which specifies that an amateur-owner exhibitor is one no longer eligible for the junior or young rider divisions. The intent of this RCP is stated as: “The Young Rider age category is an integral part of the U.S. Athlete Pipeline for the Olympic disciplines. These changes will create more opportunity for the Young Rider age (16-21) category by allowing them to develop without the restriction of having to declare amateur or professional.
One of the major stumbling blocks for talented junior riders who hit the age of 19 is that they either have to choose to compete as an amateur—in which case they need to own their own horses—or compete for rides against top professionals in the world of the open divisions. A young rider age category might ease the transition.
Other rule changes affecting the jumper divisions include a change to time penalties and the elimination of the 8-year-old Young Jumper section.
JP142.6  seeks to change the penalty for exceeding the time allowed on a jumper course from 1 fault for every second over to ¼ of a fault for every second over. The intent for the proposal reads: “One fault for each second is too much of a penalty.” This change would bring the USEF rules in line with Federation Equestre Internationale rules, which penalize each second over the time allowed with ¼ a penalty point.
In JP116.5 , the RCP crosses out any mention of 8-year-old in the definition of the current 7- and 8-year-old Young Jumper division. The intent reads: “To remove the eight year olds from the young horse classes.”
One interesting RCP that affects the equitation division is EQ112.9 , in which the requirements for judging the USEF Medal Finals are relaxed a bit. The RCP reads that they must be judged by at least one judge who holds an “R” card, but “A high performance rider is eligible to judge the Finals with a guest card provided the rider has judged either the East or West Coast Finals of the USEF Talent Search class of held a Hunter Seat Equitation Judge’s Card within the last 10 years.”
Some other random rules changes include GR1301.9 , which disallows the use of earbuds or headphones while mounted, and also states, “Nor may riders utilize call phones or tablets for communicating, texting, emailing or other business while mounted.” Proposed by the USHJA, the intent is stated as a safety concern. In GR1041.3 , the RCP adds some limitations to licensed officials in the hunter, jumper, hunter seat equitation, hunter breeding, hunter course designer, jumper course designer and category 1 steward areas. It states that beginning in the year in which they turn 70, they must pass a “fitness to officiate” evaluation to maintain their license. These evaluations must be renewed every two to four years. Some committees, in their review of this RCP, recommend disapproval on the grounds of age discrimination.
All of these Rule Change Proposals will be debated at both the USHJA Annual Meeting on Dec. 8-12 and at the U.S. Equestrian Federation Annual Meeting on Jan. 8-12. The Chronicle will be bringing you all the information you need to know from both meetings.