US Equestrian Shakeup: New Fees, New Drug Rules, New Ambitions

PC: Bill Mulder/cc/Flickr

Wednesday morning in an open letter to US Equestrian members, President Murray Kessler dropped a few small bombshells on the equestrian community. This was following a board of directors meeting held in late July, and it was the governing body’s opportunity to make some changes that will impact horses, riders and the sport for years (if not decades) to come. Here’s a quick summary of the major points:

  • USEF Membership Fees are going up. Starting next year, annual fees will be increasing from $55 to $80, which Pres. Kessler compares to the annual fees for the disciplines’ association fees. In addition to just covering the backlog of costs of doing business, he also says he hopes this will facilitate increasing unrated or lower rated shows, thereby inviting more into the fold at more economy levels.
  • Memberships will shift to an individualized schedule with auto-renewal optional. This way there is never a lapse in membership, tracking down points between active memberships or other inconveniences associated with the current system. That begins in 2018.
  • Drugs & Medications fee will increase from $8 to $15 per horse. As Pres. Kessler puts it, ”┬áSadly, this increase is necessary to fund the battle against cheating on the field of play and to defend the findings of the Hearing Committee in the court room. It is unfortunate that we all need to pay this tax because of a few bad eggs, but it is the price we must pay for clean sport and a fair and level playing field.”
  • There are also a number of health/drug changes ranging from new banned substances to new tracking requirements for certain drugs. To summarize:
    • The drug Depo-Provera (commonly used for mares with strong heat cycles) must be registered with US Equestrian 90 days prior to the start of rated competition. This will go into effect in less than a month: September 1 of this year.
    • Injectable Magnesium Sulfate is now a forbidden substance, and possession of the substance on show grounds will be strictly forbidden, as well.
    • They are going to study the possibility of allowing horses with Cushing’s Disease to remain on pergolide mesylate while showing so as not to negatively impact their health for the sake of competition. ┬áThis will be a welcome development for numerous owners and riders, no doubt.

There may be more developments with the health aspects of the rule changes soon, and if we get any additional information, we’ll be sure to bring you the news the moment we have it.

[Letter from US Equestrian President Murray Kessler]