March 28, 2011 - Lexington, KY - The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Executive Committee approved an Extraordinary Rule Change in the Morgan Division of the USEF Rule Book on March 21, 2011, requiring exhibitors in leadline classes to wear protective headgear at all times while mounted, effective immediately.
"We applaud the American Morgan Horse Association for this bold, forward-thinking move," said USEF President David O'Connor.
The rule change was put forward by the board of the American Morgan Horse Association (AMHA) to ensure the safety of exhibitors in leadline classes, who are between the ages of two and six. This comes just weeks after the USEF Board of Directors approved a series of new protective headgear rules in eventing and dressage, following a presentation on safety and protective headgear at the 2011 USEF Annual Meeting in Lexington.
"When the medical profession, the sports world and the insurance world all started getting involved, it became clear that the equine world needed to get involved as well," said Georgie Green, USEF Morgan Horse Committee Chair. "I felt we needed to be aware and ultimately, a part of this conversation. As equestrians, we need to educate ourselves and get in front of this, rather than waiting for those outside of our sport to make these decisions for us. That's one of the reasons why I felt strongly about taking this to the AMHA board when I did."
Green said after the safety presentation at the 2011 USEF Annual Meeting, she reported back to AMHA board members, who then proposed the rule for protective headgear in leadline classes. An additional rule proposal for protective headgear in walk-trot classes is also being considered by the AMHA, however is still being discussed within the Morgan community.
"I know the immediate reaction because I had it myself," Green continued. "It is, 'What do you mean you're going to tell me and my children how to dress?' But the bottom line here is safety and we need to work together to come up with solutions. We need constructive opinions about how to make this work going forward - not negative reactions - but positive responses and dialogue about how we're going to address it."
To view the updated Morgan Division Rules in the USEF Rule Book online, visit: /content/content/19765/18-MO.pdf. The changes can be viewed in sections MO106 and MO197.
For additional information, please contact Joyce Hamblin, Director, National Breed/Discipline Affiliates at USEF, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.