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Letter to the Editor - USEF



(Editor's Note: This letter was submitted for publication by Tim Lockard and Fran Crumpler in response to a letter to the editor written by Joan Hamilton printed in the Feb. 2, 2004, issue of the Saddle Horse Report.)

Dear Editor,

As co-chairs of the U.S. Equestrian Saddlebred Committee we would like to respond to a letter printed in your publication from Joan Hamilton regarding her position on rule change proposals that were voted on at the UPHA Convention on January 10. While the U.S. Equestrian Saddlebred Committee respects everyone’s right to express their opinion on these issues there were some inaccuracies that, as co-chairs of the committee, we feel need to be addressed.

The rule change proposals that are referred to in her letter (Articles 3502.2., 3505. from ASHA, and 3508.) were all initiated at the July 10, 2003, meeting of the U.S. Equestrian Saddlebred Committee and were discussed at length and each was amended by a majority vote of the committee. All three rule change proposals were approved as written and moved forward at the January 10, 2004, meeting at the UPHA convention.

In her letter she included a timeline for Article 3505, “The Munford Rule” that is incorrect and we would like to set the record straight on the history and chronology of that rule. Bill Munford has been a proponent of amending the Saddlebred stripping rules for many years. His feeling has been that show management, in order not to strip certain classes, such as Park and Saddlebred-Type Pony classes, were using the terminology “Stake” in place of “Championship.” He felt that it was not only unfair to those sections that were not able to compete in true Championship classes, but also that it was a stretch of the rules to do so. He also cited lengthy show schedules as well as the success that the Morgan Division has had with its rules limiting stripping as solid reasoning for reviewing the Saddlebred stripping rules. Bill is a longtime member of the U.S. Equestrian Saddlebred Committee and as such officially proposed changes to 3505 in July of 2002, a full year before the issues surrounding low backs and Lordosis were brought to the Committee by the ASHA and UPHA. The Saddlebred Committee discussed changes to the rule at that time and tabled it to be discussed at the November 2002 meeting. At the November meeting it was discussed again and Tom Pettry requested that the Committee wait until the ASHA Breeder’s Committee was able to meet and discuss the possible changes to the percentages in judging conformation in championship classes. The committee agreed and carried the proposal over to the July 2003 meeting, which was also the meeting at which the ASHA and UPHA submitted their low backed/Lordosis proposals for consideration. During discussion of both proposals it was decided that in fairness to those who currently own and show low backed horses language could be incorporated in Bill’s proposal to make it mandatory to print in the prize list what championship classes would be stripped. It was also at this meeting that Jimmy Robertson first informed the committee of the UPHA Board of Directors’ wishes to exempt Pleasure and Junior Exhibitor classes from mandatory stripping. That request from UPHA and “The Munford Rule” were further discussed at the August 17 meeting, the November 21 meeting and again at the UPHA convention. “The Munford Rule” was not amended at either the August or November meetings.

The Munford rule change proposal then moved to the Open Forum at the UPHA convention where it was officially proposed by the UPHA Board of Directors that the rule be amended to add the Junior Exhibitor division to the list of classes to be exempted from stripping. It was voted on at that forum and passed by an overwhelming majority of the people attending. The amended version was voted on again the following morning at the U.S. Equestrian Open Rule Forum and passed again by an overwhelming majority of those present. The U.S. Equestrian Saddlebred Committee met directly following the forum to review the wording on 20 rule changes that were proposed in 2003. “The Munford Rule” was discussed and a motion was made to remove the Three Gaited and Five Gaited Pony classes and to add the Three Gaited and Five Gaited Junior Exhibitor classes to the exemptions, which would effectively include the Three Gaited and Five Gaited Saddlebred-Type Pony classes. When the vote for Article 3505 was taken there was indeed a tie of four votes for the rule change and four votes against with two abstentions due to possible conflict of interest. There was further discussion of the proposal and when the final vote was taken the vote tally was five votes for the rule change and three votes against with two abstentions. The rule change proposal was passed to move forward as amended. On Monday, January 12 the Saddlebred Committee met again by conference call. The rule change proposal as it was voted on by the committee on the 10th was forwarded to the U.S. Equestrian legal council for review. It was suggested by council that the wording in the last sentence be further clarified to make it very clear that any show, including the Kentucky State Fair Horse Show and the UPHA/American Royal National Championship Horse Show, may strip any classes that they choose to strip, including Pleasure, Park and Junior Exhibitor classes. The committee voted ten to two in favor of clarifying the wording. The rule was then forwarded to the USEF Annual Meeting in Los Angeles where it was reviewed by the Competition Management Committee, the Licensed Officials Committee and finally approved by the USEF Board or Directors.

To summarize, this proposal was on the table with the Saddlebred Committee from July 2002 until July 2003 when it was officially submitted as a rule change proposal. It was published on the USEF web site in July where it remains today and in Saddle Horse Report in December and early January. It was discussed and passed by strong majority in the UPHA Open Forum and in the U.S. Equestrian Open Forum in January. It passed the U.S. Equestrian Saddlebred Committee, the U.S. Equestrian Competition Management Committee, the U.S. Equestrian Licensed Officials Committee and was adopted by the USEF Board of Directors on January 18, 2004. Twenty other proposals from the Saddlebred Committee went through the rule change process and nineteen of them were approved. The U.S. Equestrian Saddlebred Committee met four times in face to face meetings and once by conference call for a total of five meetings during the rule change year. Fred Sarver and Jimmy Robertson were present during the July and August 2003 meetings and attended a pre-meeting conference to add their input to the process immediately preceding the November 2003 meeting. The memo that she refers to from Fred Sarver to the Saddlebred Committee dated January 9 was delivered to the liaison for the Saddlebred Committee at the opening of the January 10th U.S. Equestrian Open Forum, which directly preceded the official meeting of the Saddlebred Committee. It was distributed to the committee at the opening of their meeting for their review.

We wish to go on record as saying that as co-chairs of the committee, who were both present at the January 10th meeting, we feel that it is unfortunate that she chooses to report the official business of the U.S. Equestrian Saddlebred Committee in terms of vote “wrangling” and “railroading” these issues. This committee is charged with the responsibility and the right to make decisions regarding the rules of competition and to suggest that this committee did anything but try to honestly work through difficult and controversial issues is unfair. We disagree that the ASHA was without a voice in the writing and passage of this rule. ASHA is equitably represented by several members of the U.S. Equestrian Saddlebred Committee with Elisabeth Goth, Tom Pettry, Mary Anne Cronan, Tom Ferrebee and Lewis Eckard currently sitting on the Board of Directors and Carter Cox, Michele Macfarlane and Judy Werner sitting on various committees. We feel that it is unfortunate that the ASHA convention falls after the USEF rule change year has concluded. The final meetings of the rule change year are in no way scheduled to exclude anyone from the process. These meetings are held at the UPHA convention or the USEF Annual Meeting according to the geographical location that is most likely to produce the largest attendance for four different breed/discipline committees, the Hackney, Roadster, Saddle Seat and Saddlebred committees. Those two conventions are the last opportunities for face to face meetings before the USEF Board makes its determinations on the rule changes proposed by those committees.

Recently ASHA has shown a strong interest in becoming a more active participant in the rule change process and we are open to ideas that will solve the problems that have arisen due to the timing problems of the conventions. We are also hopeful that we are all able to take a more constructive approach to solving problems in the future.

Sincerely,

Tim Lockard, Co-Chair U.S. Equestrian Saddlebred Committee

Fran Crumpler, Co-Chair U.S. Equestrian Saddlebred Committee

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