On June 11, U.S. Equestrian Federation representatives announced that the organization has terminated its relationship with the American Driving Society because the two could not reach an agreement regarding the ADS’ responsibilities as the recognized affiliate for the driving discipline.
USEF Chief Executive Officer Bill Moroney stated, “We recently met with ADS leadership and developed several proposals regarding competition licensing, licensed officials, alignment of rules and anti-doping for presentation to the ADS Board of Directors. We are very disappointed that the ADS Board of Directors was unwilling to accept these proposals required to keep our environment safe and fair, despite USEF’s best efforts to be flexible regarding their concerns. Ultimately, however, USEF cannot compromise on protecting our athletes, ensuring the welfare of our horses and maintaining the integrity of our sport.”
“The ADS and its board and members have, for 45 years, believed in fair sport, safe sport, and caring for the well-being of our equine partners and human competitors,” said ADS president Daniel Rosenthal, who has held the position for five months. “To suggest anything else is absurd and offensive.”
The USEF initially revoked ADS’ affiliate membership in early 2017, citing an “inability to reach an agreement as to the responsibilities of the recognized affiliate for the driving discipline.”
USEF and ADS then reached an agreement in May 2017, and ADS was reinstated as the driving affiliate. The 2017 agreement covered licensing and educating officials, licensing competitions, drug testing and sport growth, among other issues. When the agreement expired in November 2018, USEF and ADS reopened negotiations but were unable to agree on a new contract.
“Carriage driving has a number of activities, and most of our members do not participate in combined driving, but that’s the main focus of USEF,” said Rosenthal. “We’re a small sport with a small organization, and the amount of time and resources required to support [the USEF affiliate requirements] were more than we thought was right, particularly given the changes that were being asked of us. We wanted to retain the competitive divisions, the licensing process, and the rules we felt were at the core of our identity. We believe in a broad and inclusive approach to recreational and competitive driving, so we couldn’t put the needs of the few over the needs of the many.”
ADS representatives released a letters to its membership regarding the situation on June 11.
“The Board of the ADS realizes that this will be a period of some change for our sport,” stated the letter. “We believe that this decision is in the best interests of the vast majority of participants and of all of you, our members. We cannot in good conscience continue to devote the amount of human and financial resources required for an affiliation that does not adequately meet the needs of our members.”