Reinstating Your Amateur Status

Amateurs have many more class options available to compete in than Professionals – the $250,000 Hunter Prix Finals at HITS Saugerties is a good example. Amateur rider Kimberly Maloomian and Urlala won this class in September 2014. Photo © Maria Donovan.


While many juniors and amateur riders dream of one day turning professional, there are a fair number of professional riders who desire to reinstate their amateur status. There are benefits to reinstating amateurship, and many different reasons riders may decide to pursue this option.

For some, an accident or injury can make them reevaluate their riding goals. Elizabeth Landes, of Dayton, Virginia, was only twenty-two when a bad fall caused serious injury and a rethinking of her ambitions. “My neurosurgeon told me that I was lucky I didn’t end up paralyzed or with brain damage and that really hit me hard. Aside from the physical damage, the fall really hurt my confidence. I was always the bravest and most confident rider, but after the fall I became extremely cautious and somewhat of a chicken.” Elizabeth’s family owns Windswept Stables, the home of sire Empire’s Power, and she had been breaking and training young ponies for years. Now, she’s glad to have no one but herself to please; she currently shows in the Pre-Adults with her leased TB, Just Jeff.

In the jumper ring, Amateurs have many more championships and steps up the ladder. Molly Strueve and Orichdee Milody won the USHJA Adult Jumper Regional Championship Gold Medal at HITS Saugerties in September. Photo © Maria Donovan.

For Emily Pope, of Lauderdale, MN, turning pro made sense when she was offered sponsorship opportunities. Even though she did not have a training business or clients, Emily didn’t want to be in any violation of the rules. She reinstated her status in March, 2014 and now shows in the open jumpers and Grand Prix classes. Emily made her decision to reinstate because, “at this point in my life, I am working and hoping to start graduate school within the next few years, and so felt that I needed to focus on my academic career and on my horse.”

There has been much discussion and debate regarding the line between amateur and professional, and, like Emily, many riders opt to err on the side of caution when declaring their status. Mary Laing, of Culpeper, VA bred and trained hunter ponies as a professional for almost ten years, although she rarely showed in the professional divisions. “I mostly sat on young green or unbroken ponies for people and was never someone who rode with enough finesse to show at the upper levels against the pros!” Once she had a talented personal horse however, she desired more show opportunities for herself. Mary reinstated her amateur status earlier in 2014 and currently shows Sunset’s Rockafella (a homebred, overgrown Welsh cross) in the Pre-Adults.

Although an internationally competitive rider, Catherine Tyree’s amateur status allows her to compete in classes such as the $250,000 Junior/Amateur Jumper Finals at HITS Saugerties, where she place 3rd in September. Photo © Maria Donovan.

The USEF has a few simple guidelines for those riders who wish to reinstate their amateur status.

Firstly, riders must abstain from any and all professional activities for at least a year prior to filing a request for reinstatement. This includes giving riding lessons for any kind of remuneration, being paid for training rides, etc. Next, riders must file several documents, including statements of professional activities (basically, what you did as a professional and, if applicable, what you now do to replace that income), as well as statements of amateurship by at least two senior USEF members. The applicant must also submit a notarized, written request for reinstatement by the rider along with a$50 filing fee. Riders may not show as amateurs until the written request for reinstatement has been approved and amateur membership granted.

While the process may take some time (generally 3-5 weeks once the complete request form has been submitted) and paperwork, most riders agree that it is fair and relatively simple. For those who would like more information on the reinstatement process, visit the USEF’s website. The USEF also posts a monthly list of riders whose amateur status has been reinstated.