USHJA Rule Change Proposals Seek To Close Loopholes

Dec 6, 2013 - 11:00 AM

Have you taken a look at the Rule Change Proposals that will be discussed at the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association Annual Meeting on Dec. 8-12 in Atlanta, Ga.?

There are some very interesting ideas on the table—mandatory microchipping of horses, a change in large pony hunter fence height, a different delineation between small and large junior hunters, changes in height measurement protocol, the creation of a Young Rider jumper category, the inclusion of rated Thoroughbred-specific divisions, the creation of a jumper seat equitation sub-chapter in the rule book and two new USHJA Medal Finals to name a few.

We’re taking a look at some of the Rule Change Proposals up for discussion and possible inclusion in discussion at the U.S. Equestrian Federation Annual Meeting on Jan. 8-12 in Lexington, Ky. (Wondering how the rule change process works? Read this informational article.) You can read all the RCPs on the USHJA’s site

There were some extraordinary rule changes decisions made by the USEF Executive Committee on Nov. 18, which bypass the usual review process. These rule changes have already gone into effect, but future revisions of them will also be discussed at the USHJA and USEF meetings.

Modifications to the definitions and eligibility of first and second year green horses (HU103) were made as an extraordinary rule change.

The committee added wording (additions in bold) to the rule which defines a green hunter as “a horse of any age in its first or second year of showing in any hunter, jumper, hunter seat equitation or jumping seat equitation classes held at Federation Licensed competitions, Equine Canada competitions and/or FEI competitions in which the specifications require horses to jump 3’6” (1.075m) or higher.”

Later in the rule, the new wording “The green status of a horse is the responsibility of its owner,” appears.

Basically, the USEF is more narrowly defining the range of previous experience it can consider when defining green horses. USEF, Equine Canada and FEI records are the only competition records readily accessible for reference, and the USEF has excluded eventing competitions from the eligibility requirements. It deleted “Eventing Competitions” and “any national or international competition” from the wording of the rule.

Added language also designates that horses 6 and under competing at 3’6” or higher in FEI jumper classes can retain pre-green or first year green eligibility; horses at age 7 competing at 3’6” and higher in FEI jumper classes can retain second year green eligibility.

There are also changes to green reinstatement procedures; these rule changes went into effect on Dec. 1. You can read a full rendition of these extraordinary rule changes at the USHJA website.

The modifications to green eligibility are a start on closing some loopholes in USEF registration. The case of RF Amber Eyes, a former eventer turned hunter with a name change to Commentary, raised USEF record-keeping and eligibility questions and spotlighted some gaps in USEF recording and eligibility processes. That’s why the RCPs addressing microchipping are big news.

Microchip Identification is addressed in HU101.7-101.10, EQ100.3-100.6 and JP101.2-101.5. They require all horses receiving a new USEF horse recording, USHJA horse registration or change of name, and all horses competing in USEF hunter (rated C and above)/jumper (rated 2 and above)/equitation competitions that are age- or experience-restricted “must have an implanted microchip ID. The microchip ID device must be approved by the Federation.” The rule also requires horses getting names changed from an FEI passport to have an implanted microchip ID and requires horses competing in age-restricted classes to have either breeding registration papers or a veterinarian-signed age verification form.

By Dec. 1, 2015, the rule change requires all horses recorded with the USEF and registered with the USHJA to have an implanted microchip ID.

The stated intent of the RCP is: “There is a problem in the hunter and jumper disciplines when already registered horses obtain “new identities” when FEI passports are issued under new names even though they already have existing FEI passports and when horses already registered with the USEF / USHJA are re -registered as ‘new horses’ with USEF / USHJA. This practice makes it difficult to track past performance records, and allows unfair competition when experienced or older horses compete in competitions restricted by horse age or experience. It also makes it possible to hide a horse’s past performance when due diligence is being done in connection with a purchase. The permanent identification of horses with microchips would eliminate these improper practices. The FEI currently requires that all horses applying for a new passport must have microchip identification. The FEI has established standards for microchip identification and has authorized two brands of chips to be used. There is a universal scanner that reads the chip information. Microchip identification is relatively inexpensive with chips at a cost less than $50, and microchip insertion is relatively cheap. The expected cost for horse microchip identification should be about $100. Microchip is a safe and time tested identification process. USEF will control the source of the microchip ID used, the distribution of the microchip ID’s, the vets who are authorized to implant them and the minimum data set that each chip must contain.”

In an attempt to address another frequently criticized area of the record-keeping in the horse show world, USHJA President proposed a mandatory bill of sale rule.

In a change to GR702.1n, the RCP reads “a written Bill of Sale and Agency Agreement must be executed by all principals (buyer, seller, lessee, lessor, etc.) and their duly authorized agents (trainers, coaches, etc.) and distributed to all principals involved in an equine sale or lease.” It stipulated that the bill of sale must include the full sale or lease price, the full names and addresses of the principals and their agents, and the full names of any persons other than the agents or principals who are receiving compensation, fees gratuities in excess of $500.

The intent of this RCP states “To define agent (trainer, etc.) responsibilities in an equine transaction and thereby establish a standard business practice in sales and leasing. The establishment of a standard practice in equine transactions will contribute to trust and confidence in the sales experience through transparency. Stronger confidence in the process will increase owner retention and entry into our sport.”

Check back tomorrow for a close look at more of the Rule Change Proposals, including a look at the new 3’3” USHJA Medal classes. 

Category: Horse Shows

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