he United States Equestrian Federation recessed from its Annual Meeting in Lexington, KY (January 13 – 16, 2016) with the announcement that after a hard look inward in the wake of a tumultuous year, it would be employing sport-changing initiatives to better align its values with those of its membership.
Demands that the USEF reform and tighten what many believe is a culture of drugs and medication abuse, notably in the hunter division, increased to a fervor in 2015. With high-profile, positive drug tests going under-punished and a protracted lawsuit exposing the sport’s problem with medicating for quietness, anger at what at times felt like complacency on the federation’s part spurred the USEF to respond with positive steps forward.
“The message from our members was loud and clear: FIX OUR SPORT AND GET US ON THE RIGHT TRACK,” read a USEF statement.
Members supported advancing regulation that will make enhanced hearing findings public, making clear the consequences of drug rule infractions, and suspension of the horse involved in the rule infraction. All are on the horizon, with the latter item currently being analyzed by the Hearing Committee.
In addition, the development of Safe Sport and a national coaching platform across all USEF disciplines was received with enthusiasm and support, with USEF pledging to become proficient at self-policing coaching and confronting issues that stand in the way of Safe Sport.
All competing hunter/jumper horses will eventually be required to be microchipped through a multi-step plan as the Federation develops the infrastructure needed to support the program. USEF stated that approval of microchipping in the hunter/jumper discipline is a tremendous step forward toward building consumer confidence and maintaining a level playing field.
Competition licensing also came under scrutiny with the Mileage Rule Revision Task Force taking the lead to bring forth a transparent, fair and logical process of licensing competitions and managing the competition calendar.