USHJA Puts Education, Safety and Sport Opportunity First at 2016 Annual Meeting

USHJA Puts Education, Safety and Sport Opportunity First at 2016 Annual Meeting

20 December 2016

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Rule change proposal recommendations made by the USHJA Board of Directors
will be considered at the USEF Annual Meeting in January


Palm Springs, Calif. ----- Dec. 15, 2016 ----- Today concluded the five-day 2016 USHJA Annual Meeting, held in Palm Springs, California, and presented by HITS, where more than 325 registrants gathered to discuss rule change proposals, sport issues and opportunities, and program changes.

While the USHJA Annual Meeting is usually dominated by the rule change proposal actions taken by the Board of Directors, this year's meeting was more focused on education and sport opportunities. The USHJA leadership considered and made recommendations on key rule change proposals, but the total number of proposals considered throughout the meeting was 77 in comparison to the prior year, which included more than 160 proposals.

The USHJA Board of Directors supported several rule change proposals related to horse welfare, and they will advance to the USEF Board of Directors as "disapproved with comments" in order to provide feedback that aims to strengthen the proposals before they are put before the United States Equestrian Federation. These proposals addressed cruelty and abuse, as well as obtaining important information about horses that experience a fatal incident at a competition.

Among the many rules discussed at length by the USHJA Board of Directors, was a proposal that would allow competition managers to split the USHJA National Hunter Derby into one open and one Junior/Amateur class. The Board referred the proposal to their January meeting in order to provide the task force working on the rule with the opportunity to make adjustments based on the feedback and discussion that took place.

Another key rule change, which has been discussed previously, dealt with the dangers of using earbuds while riding in a schooling area. The USHJA Board of Directors supported the rule with adjustments to clarify the intent of the rule, and therefore, they disapproved the proposal as presented so the proponent, Glena Wirtanen, could make the language clarifications and resubmit the proposal, if she wishes, prior to the USHJA January Board meeting.

The comprehensive rule change proposals discussed and USHJA Board of Directors' recommendations can be found here.

Beyond rules, education was a major element of this year's Annual Meeting, featuring training for attendees on the upcoming microchipping rule, the first phase of which will take effect December 1, 2017, and the new age verification process for horses competing in the Young Hunter and Young Jumper classes. Several breed registry representatives attended the session to help answer questions about obtaining breed registry papers. More information on age verification can be found at

Dr. Lola Chambless, assistant professor of neurosurgery at Vanderbilt University and a consultant for the National Football League, United States Equestrian Federation and US Polo, provided an eye-opening session on concussions. Her presentation kicked off with an astounding statistic from a study by the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of California and the Brain and Spinal Injury Center at the San Francisco General Hospital: Of the more than 18,000 sports-related traumatic brain injury admissions to trauma centers in the United States annually, 45 percent are from equestrian sports. Chambless provided guidance to the crowd about how to handle a potential concussion and the signs and symptoms of a concussion, countering many of the perceptions of those in the audience.

Integrity in the sport, regarding fairness, good sportsmanship and safety, was also a featured topic. USEF and USHJA leaders shared the microphone, with the mandate that the USHJA educates, while the USEF regulates. Topics included Drugs & Medications and the processes taken from sample collection to findings, the newly established Anti-Doping Task Force and the concept of minimum requirements for trainers at competitions that may include drugs and medications education, concussion training, safe sport initiative and background checks.

DiAnn Langer shared an update on FEI youth competitions, announcing that in 2017 there will be an FEI North American Children's Championship for riders ages 12 to 14. Modeled after the FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships, it will consist of team and individual championships. For more information, visit

Sport growth was another important topic, with key volunteers providing attendees with an update on plans to help encourage greater participation in the sport across three topics: riding academies, a national championships, and the jumper athlete pathway.

Larry Langer provided an overview of a new USHJA program to recognize riding schools that put horsemanship, sportsmanship and safety first in the education of riders new to the sport. The USHJA Recognized Riding Academy Program, which launched last week, has already received support and interest from a number of groups.

Tom Struzzieri outlined plans for a USHJA National Championships that would create opportunities for riders at all levels to participate in a championship at a national level. The USHJA will be issuing a Request for Information and Qualifications from competition managers and host facilities in 2017 to help identify a location.

Finally, Larry Langer and Lizzie Chesson, of the USEF, provided a presentation on a pathway for jumpers, looking at what it takes to get to the top of the sport and how someone moves from dreaming about the Olympic Games to competing in them.

In addition to featured presentations, more than 35 committees, including those dedicated to zones and sport programs, met throughout the week to discuss important issues and opportunities for USHJA members. Presentations are available online at

USHJA thanks all of the 2016 Annual Meeting Sponsors and will hold the 2017 Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, December 10-14, 2017.

Media Contact:
Megan Lacy
(859) 225-6723



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