Lexington, Ky.—Dec. 13, 2019—The 2019 U.S. Hunter Jumper Association Annual Meeting, presented by World Equestrian Center, concluded Thursday with the Board of Directors submitting 43 rule change proposal recommendations to the US Equestrian Board of Directors for final approval at their mid-year meeting. Additionally, the week-long meeting provided updates on the current state of the Association, changes coming to USHJA programs and the USHJA Foundation in 2020, unveiled the new strategic direction for the Association, and celebrated members for their outstanding accomplishments.
Key rule change proposals discussed and approved included changing the rule for combining and dividing junior and amateur hunter sections from six to four entries in order for sections to be held separately, limiting hunter under saddle classes to working in groups of 20, improving and encouraging the Young Hunter program with a variety of rule change proposals to help sport growth and development of Young Hunters, and the addition of a new license level for Hunter course designers to ensure that courses at the Region I and II level follow industry standard.
Proposed rule changes on jogging 3' and 3'3" Green Hunters, minimum requirements to compete to earn division Horse of the Year points, and pony measurement requirements based on age were also discussed at length but tabled for further discussion.
The Board of Directors disapproved a proposed rule change that would require fences to be numbered in Equitation championships and finals. However, under current rules, competitions are not prohibited from numbering fences. Also disapproved was a proposed rule change that would require horses to display an exhibitor number at all times while on competition grounds, as the Board felt it would be too difficult to enforce.
Per the new US Equestrian rule change process, the USHJA Board of Directors will have until March 1, 2020, to finalize any tabled rule change proposals and submit recommendations to USEF for voting at their mid-year meeting in the summer of 2020. Only the USEF Board of Directors may enact a rule change for USEF-licensed competitions.
Earlier in the week, USHJA President Mary Babick's State of the Association presentation unveiled a new strategic direction for the Association in 2020 and beyond, and provided information on upcoming changes to the governance structure, mission, vision and value proposition statements.
Several key program updates were also presented and discussed at the meeting. The Children's and Adult Hunter Task Force met to discuss ways to improve and grow participation in the USHJA Children's and Adult Amateur Hunter Championships. The program will not run in 2020 as changes to program specifications, qualifying procedures and Championship format are determined.
Changes to the Trainer Certification Program were proposed to change it to a credentialing program, including live testing. No new applications will be accepted in 2020 while the program is being rebuilt, and the program will relaunch in 2021 as a credentialing program for coaching and training. Trainers who are currently Certified Trainers will keep their certification under the new system.
The Emerging Athletes Program will again offer Regional Training Sessions at two fence heights, now 3' (0.95m) and 3'3" (1.0m). Additionally, the Horsemanship Quiz Challenge will expand to include adult amateurs in 2020.
Changes will also be made to the structure of the USHJA Foundation. Beginning in 2020, the Foundation will be incorporated into the Association, thus reducing the Board of Directors size to three members. Of those three seats, one will remain the USHJA President.
An informative Safe Sport presentation followed by a question and answer session was also given by Michael Henry, chief officer for response and resolution at the U.S. Center for SafeSport, on Wednesday, Dec. 11. The session was livestreamed and will be made available on the USHJA website in the coming days.
The USHJA extends thanks to Annual Meeting Sponsors: presenting sponsor World Equestrian Center; Great Southwest Equestrian Center; Pin Oak Charity Horse Show; Millbrook Leathers; Equestrian Businesswomen Summit; Tryon International Equestrian Center; Colorado Hunter Jumper Association; Hodges Badge Company, US Equestrian; Arizona Hunter Jumper Association; National Western Stock Show; Bridget, Misty and Scampi; EMO Insurance; Kym K Smith; USHJA Zone 8; Aveterra; Landsafe Equestrian; Human Touch; Desert Flight; and USHJA Official Sponsors Charles Owen, CWD, Parlanti and Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital.
Read more in-depth coverage of the USHJA Annual Meeting in the special digital issue of the January In Stride. For more information about the USHJA Annual Meeting, presented by World Equestrian Center, visit ushja.org/AnnualMeeting
Photo: Tricia Booker/USHJA