New Rule, Who Dis?

I’m a rule person. I like structure, I like clear expectations, I like when people DON’T SIT IN THE LEFT LANE FOR NO REASON OR TALK IN THE MOVIE THEATER LIKE HEATHENS. I like rules. I like when other people follow rules.


So naturally, I have the USEF Rulebook app on my phone, have read my pertinent sections back to front several times, and avidly follow rule changes or new rule proposals.

Because rules control the fun.

I don’t know how closely y’all stay up to date on rule changes, but a new USEF rule for 2018 has literally changed my life. Like, I got shivers because I could see my future track of competitions changing. Here’s the rule:

JP117.2:  Amateur Jumper: A horse that is ridden by an Amateur. Classes are restricted to riders who are no longer eligible to compete as junior exhibitors.

  1. (For Amateur rules please see GR1306)
  2. Dividing Classes. Sections may be offered divided by either specific height or age of rider.
  3. Level of Difficulty:
    1. 1.40/1.45m Amateur classes will have courses set at either 1.40m (4’7”) or 1.45 m (4’9’). The maximum height for the first class of this section, and for any classes in which time is the deciding factor in the initial round, is 1.40 m (4’7”). Note: Only Amateur classes set at either 1.40m or 1.45m will be pointed toward HOTY awards in the 1.40/1.45m Amateur category.
    2. 1.30/1.35m Amateur classes will have courses set at either 1.30m (4’3”) or 1.35m (4’5”). All Amateur classes set at either 1.30m or 1.35m will be pointed towards HOTY awards in the 1.30/1.35m Amateur category.
    3. 1.20/1.25m Amateur classes will have courses set at either 1.20m (3’11”) or 1.25m (4’1”). All Amateur classesat either 1.20m or 1.25m will be pointed toward the 1.20m/1.25m Amateur category for purposes of HOTY awards.
    4. Local competitions – no minimum course requirements and no points towards National Horse of the Year awards. 

In case you haven’t fully grasped the significance of this yet, it means that USEF shows can now offer classes from 1.20m that are limited to amateurs who do not need to own the horse.


I’ll say that again: there are now classes for amateurs to compete against other amateurs without needing to buy an AO horse.

Ho. Lee. Crap.

Does this have potential for abuse by shamateurs who will be basically professional and riding a string of horses like a pro? Yes. I’m not naive, there are always people who skate around the system like this.

But there are also people like me. Who can’t afford an AO horse and likely never will, who don’t want to take the time to find a talented baby or diamond in the rough to develop (more power to those of you who do, I just don’t want that). Who know that leasing a horse for that height is likely the only feasible way to do it with their time and money constraints, but also knew that meant competing in the Open classes against pros.

It may not be a perfect solution, but this is a real bridge to the upper levels for riders who might not otherwise be able to afford it. To my eyes, this is a fantastic way of creating greater access to higher levels by not restricting the pathway to those who can afford either the price tag of an established jumper or the time investment to bring one along.

I’m still in no rush- I’ll get there when I get there. It’s just extremely exciting to me that when I do get there, I have options to progress on my own terms.

Tell me your thoughts! I know the amateur rule is a very touchy one (with good reason) and I’d love to hear what you think- agree or disagree- about the new Amateur Jumper divisions.


16 thoughts on “New Rule, Who Dis?

  1. Stacie Seidman 11/17/2017 / 9:48 am

    AH! I haven’t been paying attention to the rule changes cause you know, horse doesn’t want to show. But this is awesome. Trainer sometimes has sales horses that she’d rather farm out to a junior since they can show higher. But maybe now I can beg for a catch ride!


  2. Tracy - The Printable Pony 11/17/2017 / 11:04 am

    I think it’s really great to see USHJA/USE trying to figure out how to make things slightly more accessible financially!


    • hellomylivia 11/17/2017 / 11:25 am

      Agreed! I think it’s a great step in the right direction of making the sport more “user-friendly” to the many many members who don’t have zillions to spend.


  3. Kelly 11/17/2017 / 12:03 pm

    Whohooo! So excited for you!! Personally, I think any rule that gives more opportunities for amateurs to compete is good for the sport,


    • hellomylivia 11/17/2017 / 2:15 pm

      Agreed! Having more options is such a great thing for us all


  4. roamingridersite 11/17/2017 / 3:27 pm

    Finally I have found someone else who lives by and follows rules! I was beginning to think I was the only one left 🙂 As for the rule change, I don’t have enough education on it to see both sides but I am all for anything that helps bring the sport to more people in a safe manner


  5. diaryofahunterprincess 11/17/2017 / 5:02 pm

    While I understand where you’re coming from, believe me I really do, I think that expansion on the definition of who can compete in those classes literally undermines the point of those classes. Those classes were meant for the people who either have the money to buy the made AO horse, or the ones who do put the time in.

    That being said I think the fact that we are even talking about this shows that there is a hole lacking for riders like you, who lease their mounts or just don’t own them.

    Maybe I’m just looking at it from the owners perspective, but I can’t stand when leased horses are in the hunters AOs. It happens, and the riders are called out, but people still try to get around it.


    • hellomylivia 11/17/2017 / 5:04 pm

      I absolutely agree with the need for a dedicated AO division- this is in addition to that, not replacing!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Shelby Allen 11/17/2017 / 5:19 pm

    This realm of rules pertaining to hunters or jumpers like this literally makes zero since to me, but from an outsider eventer’s perspective it sounds like it would make the sport more assessable. I can see the opportunity to abuse the rule, but still sounds like it would be more positive than negative!


    • hellomylivia 11/21/2017 / 8:15 am

      That’s definitely my hope! There will always be people that try to cheat the system, but I’m hoping it’ll have enough of a positive impact to create opportunities like it’s meant to.


  7. Abby F 11/17/2017 / 10:01 pm

    Not going to lie, I cringed when I saw the rule change… Don’t get me wrong, I think for someone who is honest, like you, it can provide a lot of opportunities that would not otherwise be available. However, I think there is a huge risk that this rule will be abused and I’m not sure how that can be policed. I supposed only time will tell!


    • Abby F 11/17/2017 / 10:01 pm



    • hellomylivia 11/21/2017 / 8:16 am

      I definitely share that concern- I think the amateur rule as a whole is tough to police and subject to a lot of misinterpretation. I do hope that they get enough numbers in these divisions to get a clear picture of what works/doesn’t work, so they can continue to refine and update as time goes on!


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