Friday, January 3, 2014

USEF Proposed Rule Changes

by guest blogger Michelle Schubert

This year’s list of Proposed Rule Changes are not necessarily longer or shorter than usual, but they have proposed several new rules or changes that show where the industry is headed.

The proposed change I want to talk about today is GR1301.9. The USEF has been slowly trying to implement this rule, which focuses on the removal of earbuds while mounting or riding. I will admit that I spend a lot of time wearing headphones, but I have to side with the USHJA on this one. The same way earbuds are illegal while driving they shouldn’t be worn while you’re on a horse.

It can be fun and convenient to rock out to your favorite tunes while you’re riding, but you have to consider the other riders in the ring. This rule also aims to prohibit the use of “cell phones or tablets for communicating, texting, e-mailing or other businesses while mounted”. Again, I feel this is appropriate given the nature of the activity and (as much as I hate to admit it) the unpredictability of the horses we ride.

In the past, several organizations have tried to implement this rule but have been unsuccessful. Some believe that Bluetooth headsets should be allowed while riding, while others feel this rule requires more justification or is not enforceable because of technology’s strong influence in today’s world.

If this rule is put into place there will be fines for violation, including disqualification from your next class or a $150.00 fine. If someone has multiple offenses a charge may be filed.

Even if this proposed change doesn’t become official I do think riders should be more cautious when using electronics while mounted. Although I know it can be hard to put down your phone (especially if you’re trying to make it to the competition ring) it’s safer for you and everyone around you to wait until you’ve dismounted to listen to music, text or make phone calls.

For more information on this and other proposed rule changes, go to the USHJA Zone 5 page and click on Proposed rule changes.  Give us your feedback!

Michelle is a junior at Ball State University studying public relations. Although she has ridden on and off since going to school, horses have always been a passion of hers. Michelle began riding at age 8, and has grown up riding with Ken Stien at Plantation Equestrian Center. She and her horse, Rokoko compete in the Amateur Adult division.