U.S. Equestrian Federation and World Equestrian Center—Ocala officials released a joint statement on Dec. 30 announcing they will work together so that WEC can host USEF-sanctioned competitions.
“USEF and WEC agree that it is in the best interest of the sport for them to work collaboratively,” said the statement. “Formulating this plan will require some time for both USEF and WEC to meet and consider what is best for equestrian sport and all of its stakeholders, while prioritizing horse and rider welfare and operating under the rules that govern all USEF organizers.”
In November, USEF officials withdrew WEC Ocala’s four 2021 dates granted through a mileage exception in response to the new Ocala, Florida, facility partnering with the National Snaffle Bit Association to run 10 other weeks of competition with notable prize money.
“NSBA is not an affiliate of USEF, and any NSBA events at the Ocala Winter Spectacular would be operated outside of USEF’s rules, including class specifications, field of play rules, scoring systems, and most importantly USEF rules protecting horse and human health and safety,” read USEF CEO Bill Moroney’s statement on Nov. 11.
At the time, USEF officials notified the Fédération Equestre Internationale that WEC Ocala’s events would be unauthorized by the national governing body, meaning that any FEI riders, officials and horses participating at the facility could face months of ineligibility. The joint statement explains that USEF has since withdrawn this request, and FEI affiliated competitors can now show at WEC Ocala this 2021 season.
“Assuming development of a mutually agreed upon plan, WEC has agreed not to host any other new competitions that are not authorized by USEF,” read the statement. “The USEF recognizes WEC’s existing relationship with NSBA and that WEC will endeavor to include NSBA within such authorized competitions.
“In agreeing to this interim measure, the USEF considered how important it was for its members to have abundant competition opportunities this winter following a period during which many events were canceled because of COVID-19,” continued the statement. “The goal now shared by both USEF and WEC is to have a plan agreed in the coming weeks and once that is achieved, the plan will be shared publicly.”