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USEF Amateur Task Force Provides Rule Change Update & Survey Results

 Lexington, Kentucky – October 05, 2021 – US Equestrian held a webinar on September 22 for the USEF Amateur Task Force to update US Equestrian members on recent progress since the initial webinar in early August. USEF Amateur Task Force representatives Lisa Blackstone and Caitlin Creel presented proposed changes to the USEF Amateur Rule based on the work of the task force this year and member feedback. The team also presented the results of the recent member survey in preparation for the proposed rules to enter the formal extraordinary rule change submissions process.

Blackstone gave an overview of the members of the USEF Amateur Task Force, which consists of nine USEF members from a variety of breeds and disciplines and three USEF staff members. The task force recognized that the equestrian sport environment has changed since the amateur rule was last amended, and the rule needs to be relevant to today’s environment to allow members to have greater access to equestrian sport. USEF membership agreed, with 66% of respondents to the recent survey saying the amateur rule needs to be revised.

The task force gathered member feedback through a variety of methods, including focus groups, dedicated email, member webinar, member survey, presentations, and meetings with discussions. The USEF membership showed strong engagement on the topic, with close to 9,500 individuals completing the survey, 75% of the respondents being amateurs, and a wide distribution of responses across the USEF-recognized breeds and disciplines and from all USEF affiliate organizations.

Using the information gathered, the task force determined it was best to address the amateur rule changes in categories based on its main topics: remuneration and eligibility to compete.

  • Remuneration involves performing barn duties, teaching beginner lessons, and being a social media influencer and/or social media brand ambassador.
    • Rule Change Proposal One – Amateurs may accept remuneration for barn duties at home and at competitions, including but not limited to grooming, tacking, bathing, clipping, longeing, braiding, and stall and tack cleaning.
      • Eighty-eight percent of survey respondents supported this rule change proposal.
    • Rule Change Proposal Two – Amateurs teaching beginner lessons subject to limitations, which involves nine requirements, received mixed reactions from USEF membership. Thus, the task force recommended that this rule change apply only to the groups who are requesting it, which are the Andalusian/Lusitano, American Saddlebred, Arabian, Friesian, Hackney, Morgan, National Show Horse, Paso Fino, Roadster, and Saddle Seat Equitation divisions. The other breeds and disciplines may watch and observe this aspect of the rule (if approved) go into effect in the future and determine if they would like to adopt it as well.
      • Forty-nine percent of survey respondents supported this rule change, while 36% did not support the rule change proposal.
    • Rule Change Proposal Three – Amateurs can accept remuneration for posting or promoting products on social media as a social media influencer and/or social media brand ambassador and can wear manufacturer marks, barn or stable branding, or branded equipment required by a class sponsor to participate in competition. Amateurs cannot accept remuneration for commercial brand exposure in competition or on competition grounds.
      • Fifty-eight percent of survey respondents supported this rule change proposal.
    • New Rule Change Addition: Following feedback after the webinar, the proposal to eliminate the “allowance for a non-monetary token gift of appreciation valued at less than $300 annually” was withdrawn because it was determined that receiving any gift or token of appreciation as an amateur would result in a violation without this rule in place, which was not the intended consequence. A new proposed rule change will increase the cap to $1,000. Amateurs are permitted to: Accept a non-monetary token gift of appreciation valued less than $1,000 annually.
  • Eligibility to compete involves a waiting period for professionals to reapply for amateur status and the junior age changing to 21.
    • Rule Change Proposal Four – Anyone 25 and under who has been engaged in professional activities may reapply for amateur status after a three-month waiting period. The three-month waiting period is for one-time use, and any subsequent application for amateur status would require a one-year waiting period, as is standard for our rules.
      • Seventy-six percent of survey respondents supported this rule change proposal.
    • Rule Change Proposal Five – The proposed rule change that would change the junior age  to 21 and under is on hold. While there was some support for change, the rule is not ready to move forward.
      • Thirty-nine percent of survey respondents supported this rule change, while 47% did not support the rule change proposal.

The task force’s above supported proposals will move forward as extraordinary rule changes into the rule-change system, and committees and councils will provide feedback.  The membership will be notified as soon as these rule changes are certified as extraordinary by the officers and posted online for member comment.   Following committee and council review, the rule changes will be considered by the US Equestrian Board of Directors at a meeting on November 22, 2021. The board will review any feedback and recommendations for amendments to these rules.

In the future, such topics as the definition of family; licensed officials; and NCAA name, image, and likeness ruling for amateurs; and interns, students, and apprenticeships will be reviewed as well.

Source: Press Release from the US Equestrian Communications Department for US Equestrian / USEF – United States Equestrian Federation

Photo: © Yasmin White