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USHJA Board of Directors Vote on Rule Change Proposals

Updated: Feb 14


Lexington, Ky.—Dec. 15, 2020—The 2020 U.S. Hunter Jumper Association Annual Meeting, presented by Equicore, concluded Friday, December 11 with the Board of Directors submitting rule change proposal recommendations to the US Equestrian Board of Directors for final approval at their mid-year meeting. The 12-day virtual meeting provided an expanded offering of educational webinars, updates on the current state of the Association, unveiled changes to USHJA programs and new USHJA Championship offerings in 2021, elected new members to the Board of Directors, and celebrated members for their outstanding accomplishments.


Key rule change proposals discussed and approved included allowing mules to compete in jumper divisions, prohibiting the use of earbuds in areas designated for schooling and exercise, limiting the number of jumping classes offered per section per day in the interest of horse welfare, and the creation of a new Jumper and Equitation English and corresponding metric fence height chart for Hunter class cross entry and eligibility. Several proposed rule changes that would affect Amateurs were also discussed and voted on after gathering feedback from Amateur members prior to and throughout the meeting. The Board voted to approve the proposed rule change to Jumper sections that would remove Amateur Owners from the rule, leaving only Amateurs. A separate year-end award would still be available to recorded owners. The Joint Amateurs Task Force ultimately withdrew their proposed rule change that defined social media influencers as professionals after open discussion in the Rule Change Forum and in their Task Force meeting. Additionally, the Board voted to table the similar USEF proposed rule change to the Amateur status rule for further discussion. A proposed rule change for a three-way age split in the Amateur/Owner Hunters was also discussed at length. The Board ultimately agreed that they were in favor of trying the split, as it has been requested by Amateurs, but tabled the rule for further discussion to better determine language regarding class splits. Other proposed rule changes tabled for further discussion included modernization of prize money requirements and mileage panel and exemption changes, as well as a proposed rule change that would carry forward the 2020 Presidential Modification that changes the way Hunters jog. The Board of Directors disapproved a proposed rule change that would move mileage exemption out of the rulebook and into a policy document. Also disapproved was a USEF-proposed rule change that would amend prize money for Hunter sections. The Board felt the similar proposed rule change from the USHJA Competition Management Committee was better but wanted to revisit for further clarification before voting. Per the US Equestrian rule change process, the USHJA Board of Directors will have until March 1, 2021, to finalize any tabled rule change proposals and submit recommendations to USEF for voting at their mid-year meeting in the summer of 2021. Only the USEF Board of Directors may enact a rule change for USEF-licensed competitions. The two-week meeting kicked off with USHJA President Mary Babick's State of the Association presentation which unveiled exciting new Championship offerings and changes to USHJA programs for the 2021 competition year. Click here to watch the 2020 State of the Association on-demand. Several key program updates were also presented and discussed at the meeting. Changes to the Outreach competition program were announced, as well as the unveiling of a new USHJA Instructor Credential, which will launch in early 2021. On December 4, the new USHJA Diversity and Inclusion Advocacy Committee held an informative discussion and detailed their action plan. Click here to watch this session on-demand and here to view their action plan. Board elections were held on Monday, December 7, in which David Distler, of West Palm Beach, Florida, was voted for a second term as National Vice President. Four At-Large Director positions were also filled by Glen Petty, of Raleigh, North Carolina; Joe Dotoli of Chepachet, Rhode Island; Terri Young, of Leesburg, Virginia; and Sissy Wickes, of Unionville, Pennsylvania. All elected and appointed members of the Board of Directors will assume their duties immediately following the close of this year's Annual Meeting. Each position will serve a four-year term. Elections will take place for four Board of Director positions as well as Zone Committees in 2021. More information about 2021 elections will be made available soon at ushja.org/elections. The two-week meeting also played host to a wide variety of educational webinars and presentations that ranged from horsemanship, interactive judges' perspectives, best business practices, nutrition and wellness, and much more.