USHJA Annual Meeting: Measurement Card and Halter Number Rule Change Proposals

Photo © Lauren Mauldin


The USHJA Annual Meeting Rule Change Forum was held this morning in Denver, Colorado with USHJA President Mary Babick and Vice Presidents Robin Rost-Brown and Charlotte Skinner-Robson. 

The USHJA Annual Meeting runs from December 8th to 12th at the Denver Hilton City Center in Denver, Colorado.

Reversing Permanent Measurement Cards Ages

Of the dozens of proposed changes, HU 127 #151-19 and HJ 127 #151-19 were topics of high anticipation. This proposed change proposes changing the age in which a horse or pony can receive a measurement card from eight to six years old. So what do you as an owner, rider, trainer, breeder, and USHJA member need to know?

In 2015, the USHJA motioned and USEF voted to change the age requirements for permanent measurement cards from six to eight for horses and ponies. Any animal under the age of eight was eligible to receive a temporary measurement card up until that point. Since then, a large pushback from breeders, owners, and trainers has led to a request for reversal. Per USHJA conducted analyzation, while ponies do grow a small amount on average between the ages of six and eight, it is uncommon for such growth to push them out of their height section. 

Photo © Lauren Mauldin

While both proposals motion for changing the age requirement for permanent cards (therefore making it so any horse or pony age five and under is eligible for a temporary card), HJ 127.1 suggests that “two separate measurements certifying the same section height be made” by two different stewards in an attempt to eliminate any inaccuracies. Should any discrepancies be found, the taller of the two measurements will be listed on the horse or ponies permanent Standard Measurement Card. HJ 127 requests the same age change, without the requirement of two separate measurements being conducted.

Halter Numbers – The New Normal?

Between conversations of jump cup depth, permanent measurement cards, Horse Of The Year points, and more; a debate arose on the topic of proposal GR801, which would require all horses to be clearly identifiable by their competition number at all times on a competition grounds.

The proposal, prompted by Donna Rocchetti, is intended to increase safety measures and protect the welfare of both horse and rider by making it easier to clearly identify an entrant. However, there are questions—can this be done effectively, can it be enforced, and will our competitors abide by it? 

Members of the association in attendance brought pros and cons for both sides. In case of a loose horse, an owner can be quickly identified. If malpractice is noted on the show grounds (weather over-lunging, drugging, etc.), one can be much more concise in reporting the instance to a steward or show official. That being said, what regulations need to be in place in order to make this successful?

A new USHJA rule proposal offers the idea of giving both back numbers and halter numbers in an attempt to advocate for horse safety and welfare. Photo © Lauren Mauldin

As one member pointed out, this system is in place in a multitude of different disciplines as well as at a handful of shows in Canada. Upon arrival to the show office, any horse on the grounds is given not just a rider number (required to be worn any time the horse is being ridden), but a smaller number for a halter that can be seen in the wash rack and the lunging ring. In order to be effective, non-competing horses are also given their own numbers. 

Will this system be the new normal for our horse shows? It has the potential to impact the ability to advocate for our horses welfare in a much simpler manner, but does have potential downsides. 

While the conversations continue in Denver this week, these rule change proposals will continue to work towards approval and eventually be voted upon at the USEF Annual Meeting on January 7th in West Palm Beach, Florida. Check back to for further coverage from this event throughout the week. 

About the Author: Annie Birmingham is an 18 year old equestrian from Long Island, New York. A freshman at Long Island University studying equine management, Annie can usually be found spending time at the barn and grooming at horse shows up and down the East Coast.

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