The coronavirus pandemic has led U.S. Equestrian Federation officials to re-evaluate a number of time-honored traditions in the name of exhibitor safety. One of those is jogging in the hunters, since the in-gate becomes a congested mess when competitors line up at the end of a class. Thanks to a presidential modification in 2020, riders have been concluding a jumping round by trotting a circle on a loose rein instead of jogging.
Due to the success of that method, U.S. Hunter Jumper Association officials have been exploring the viability of making that a permanent change for the 2022 show season. After many tweaks, the USHJA board of directors voted on Feb. 8 to approve the proposal that would allow show management to choose either traditional jogging or the mounted version.
“I think the important takeaway is that we’re giving horse show management a choice,” said board member Sissy Wickes. “So often USHJA and USEF are vilified for overproducing, too many rules, too many regulations, too many people in your business. This is a chance for us to say that the show management has an option, and, hopefully, good horse shows will incorporate a presentation element to this. This is what it’s all about. There’s nothing worse than standing at the ring trying to figure out where you were in a class, and the tractor is going around, and your client is asking you if they got a ribbon or not. It’s awful. Hopefully, the horse show managers will pick up on this, but we are giving horse shows a choice, and I think that’s an important aspect here. We’re not mandating one way or another.”
One of the most popular arguments for keeping the traditional jog is that it makes the class feel special, particularly at shows like Devon (Pennsylvania) or indoor championships, but USHJA Vice President David Distler pointed out that what people are truly arguing for is the presentations that accompany jogs at those shows. This rule change wouldn’t preclude management from holding presentations, and they could require attendance at the presentations.
“The two shows I run, Washington [District of Columbia] and Devon, that’s our big thing—presentations,” Distler said. “That’s not an issue for us. We don’t care if we jog before, after or not at all; we want to do a presentation. Shows that want presentations can.”
The rule change proposal now goes to the USEF to be voted on at its mid-year meeting. If it passes, the change will go into effect on Dec. 1, 2021.