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USEF Prohibited Practice Rule Changes

At the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Board of Directors mid-year meeting on Monday, July 22nd, some significant rule and bylaw changes were brought to the table. The changes concerned horse welfare, the structure of the USEF Board of Directors, and the discipline of western dressage. Each of the changes brought forth received a majority vote to approve and a summary of each change is detailed below.

Horse Welfare Changes

Two important Proposed Extraordinary Rule Changes were introduced in March of 2013 by the USEF Veterinary Committee. Following extensive feedback from USEF Technical Committees, Working Groups, and from attendees at USEF Town Hall Meetings held in Florida in March, and via interactive webcast in June, the USEF Board of Directors has approved the following two changes.

The first change introduces a new category of rules called Prohibited Practices to the USEF Rule Book which will take effect December 1, 2013:

GR 414 Prohibited Practices - to read the entire rule change click here.

Important points in this change include the following:

No horses or ponies may be injected within twelve hours prior to competing.

There are only three exceptions to this rule: therapeutic fluids, antibiotics, and Dexamethasone for the treatment of hives (specific dosing guidelines are provided for the exceptions concerning fluids and Dexamethasone).

All excepted substances must be administered by a veterinarian and cannot be administered to a horse or pony within six hours prior to competing.

The second rule change becomes effective on August 1, 2013, and concerns the actions taken should a horse or pony collapse at a USEF Licensed Competition. This rule change proposal has been commonly referred to as the "Collapse Rule" and is the first to be presented in the formation of an over-arching Catastrophic Incident Protocol. The intent of this rule is to keep the USEF informed of any collapses, empower the USEF to investigate the circumstances surrounding such an incident, and hold the trainer, or the owner if the trainer is unavailable, accountable for refusal to cooperate.

GR 843 Mandatory Reporting & Cooperation of Horse/Pony Collapse - to read the entire rule change click here.

Important components of this change are summarized below:

A collapse is defined as "a fall to the ground with no apparent cause."

The trainer, owner, or rider of a horse must report a collapse no later than three hours after it has occurred.

Any horse or pony that collapses is subject to drug and medication testing and inspection by a USEF appointed veterinarian (at USEF's expense).

Cooperation with the Federation as to an investigation concerning a horse/pony collapse or death is mandated.

Extensive documentation and a Q&A regarding the rules can be viewed at

If you have questions about either of these rule changes, please email

You can find the USEF Rule Book online, and mobile friendly, at

USEF Board of Directors Restructure

In an effort to make a more agile and efficient organization, the Board of Directors voted to amend Bylaws to restructure the Federation's governance structure.

USEF Planning Committee Chairman Bill Moroney presented an extensive Bylaw rewrite that facilitates the reduction in size of the USEF Board and empowers a council structure consistent with a Restructure Concept Document approved earlier this year at the January USEF Annual Meeting. "We have come to realize that the Federation is not structured to maximize the contributions of its greatest assets - our passionate volunteers." Moroney continued to say, "The membership expects leadership to operate within a governance structure that reflects its leaders' knowledge and experience, as well as one that facilitates their ability to address issues in a timely manner."

Effective January 9, 2014, the Board of Directors will be streamlined to 20 members from the current 54. Additionally, the Administration & Finance Working Group, FEI Affiliates Working Group, High Performance Working Group, and National Affiliates Working Group will transition to become the Administrative and Finance Council, International Disciplines Council, and the National Breeds and Disciplines Council.

USEF President Chrystine Tauber remarked, "The overhaul of our governance model is the first bold step in ensuring a strong and prosperous future for our Federation. The new system of councils will provide all of our breeds and disciplines with a much more powerful platform for governance and effectuating timely changes to their respective areas of the sport."

The composition of the restructured Board will include representatives from across the spectrum of the Federation. Three seats will be occupied by USEF Officers including a President, Vice President, and Secretary/Treasurer. Eligible Athletes will be elected to four seats respectively, as will representatives from the International Disciplines and the National Breeds and Disciplines Councils. One member of the Administration & Finance Council will also sit on the Board of Directors and two Independent Members will be elected by the new Board. The final two seats will be filled by representatives from the two USEF Sustaining Affiliate Members.

Tauber commented further, "The new Board will be able to concentrate on oversight and the overall future plans and vision for the Federation. Members of the smaller Board must be fully engaged and understand that they do not participate as a special interest director, but rather as a member of a leadership team where their input is vitally important to all matters of the Federation.

"Many associations are currently experiencing restructures. The traditional model for associations doesn't work well in today's environment of rapid changes and new technology. Our efficacy and relevance will diminish in the future if we do not keep up with the continually shifting landscape. This changing environment requires us to adopt new and different approaches. It is about fundamental changes in how we operate."

A transition plan has been developed by USEF Senior staff and will be implemented throughout the Fall of 2013 as the Working Groups are reseated into the new Councils. The new restructured Board is expected to be seated at the 2014 Annual Meeting.

To learn more about the Board of Directors Restructure and Bylaw amendments visit;

Western Dressage Chapter Added to Rule Book

The USEF Board of Directors voted to add a new discipline to the Rule Book and in the process welcomed a new Recognized Affiliate. Effective December 1, 2013, Western Dressage will be removed from the Morgan chapter of the USEF Rule Book and become an independent discipline with it's own chapter. With that change the Western Dressage Association of America (WDAA) will become the USEF Recognized Affiliate for Western Dressage.

In a press release the WDAA stated "The Western Dressage Association of America is honored to be the USEF Recognized Affiliate for the exciting new discipline of western dressage. WDAA is excited to bring its focus and mission of "Honoring the Horse" to the USEF's Horse Welfare Initiative. WDAA will work closely with USEF coordinating rule processes and other affiliate functions." 

To learn more about the Western Dressage Association of America go to

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