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Lordosis Rule Changes To Be Discussed At USAE Convention

In what has become an extremely heated topic dividing professional horsemen, breeders, and owners, three proposed rules changes regarding horses with lordosis, or low backs, will be discussed at the upcoming USA Equestrian Annual Meeting.

The proposed rule changes are:

Article 3502. Type and Conformation. [Rule XXXV. Saddlebred Horse Division, Chapter 1. General Qualifications] Changes to read: 2. The ideal American Saddlebred is well-proportioned and presents a beautiful overall picture... If they meet all other requirements for a particular event, they should not be penalized too severely. In stripped classes, Harness classes and In-Hand classes extremely low backed horses must be severely penalized.

Article 3505. Stripping. [Rule XXXV. Saddlebred Horse Division, Chapter 1.] Changes to read: The Stripping of horses for conformation judging is mandatory in Under Saddle Championship classes in all sections except Pleasure and one horse classes and in all ASHA signature classes for horses three years old and under (i.e. ASHA Futurities, ASHA Sweepstake). Horses with extremely low backs must be severely penalized in all stripped performance classes. Extremely low backed horses must not be considered for judging in all stripped ASHA signature classes. Only two attendants per animal are permitted in the ring (see Article 3542).

Article 3508. Championships. [Rule XXXV. Saddlebred Horse Division, Chapter 1. General Qualifications] Change to read: 1. Championship classes are judged in the same manner as the qualifying classes. Horses are to be stripped and judged on conformation in accordance with Article 3505. In stripped classes, Harness classes and In-Hand Classes extremely low backed horses must be severely penalized.

Opinions surrounding the lordosis situation are extremely varied. Some believe the gene that is responsible for creating low backs in horses should be eliminated. Others believe horses with low backs should not be penalized during conformation judging. If you feel strongly about either side of this issue you should plan to attend the USA Equestrian Annual Meeting, which will be held Jan. 14-18, 2004, at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, Calif. If you cannot attend the meeting you can also voice your opinion by visiting the USA Equestrian web site at and clicking on the link for Rule Changes / Summary of Proposed Rule Changes. (Editor's Note: With as much attention as this topic has received it is good that rule changes are being proposed, however, after reading these rules it doesn't seem to fix the problem no matter what side of the fence you are on in regards to lordosis. These rules leave too much open to interpretation. First, how do you define or where do you draw the line on "extremely low back" and secondly, what is "severely penalized?" If judges are going to use the rules to make their decisions they should have a clear understanding of what those rules are, and "extremely low back" and "severely penalized" are anything but clear cut.)

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