On January 20, 1917, representatives of 50 horse shows under the leadership
of Reginald C. Vanderbilt met in New York City to draw together the horsemen
and horsewomen of the North, South, East, and West in a unity of intention
to maintain clean competition and fair play in the show ring.
The first annual meeting of the Association of American Horse Shows was held
on January 29, 1918. By then, 26 well known shows including Brooklyn, Bryn
Mawr, Devon, Tuxedo, and Wilmington were elected to membership. A certificate
of incorporation was adopted in June. In 1919, records showed that the
Association listed 35 member shows, with 16 Association Medals.
By the annual meeting in January of 1924, the Association had extended its
influence beyond the eastern border of the country, enrolling 67 shows.
Mr. Vanderbilt passed away in 1925, and Mr. Alfred B. Maclay was elected president.
Mr. Alfred Maclay engaged himself in the sport as an exhibitor, breeder, and
judge, and devoted himself to his new presidential duties. In 1927—still early in his
administration—the Association first printed the rules in a six-page pamphlet
which included the Constitution. Additional rules, more
protests, the election of new members, and other matters occupied the attention
of the Executive Committee in the next few years.
At the annual meeting in 1930, a suggestion appeared in the minutes that the
Executive Committee should have a representative of the Association at every
recognized show, to be appointed by the committee and to send a report on the
show to the Association. This suggestion never became effective, but it revealed
a need which existed even then and which finally found solution in the provision
for American Horse Shows Association Stewards publicized in the 1948 Rule Book.
Not until 1959—29 years after the initial suggestion—did the AHSA
set in motion the machinery for licensing Stewards and adopt the rule first printed
in the 1960 Rule Book.
February 1933 marked a milestone. The original name Association of American Horse
Shows, Inc., was changed to the American Horse Show Association, Inc. Later the
title was again amended to its present form. At this same meeting, two classes of
membership were established: Show Membership and Individual Membership.
Many items filled the minutes for 1935. One interesting moment was
the report of the Committee appointed to look into the matter of joining
the International Equestrian Federation.
The Committee—subject to the agreement of the Cavalry Association—recommended
that the American Horse Show Association take over the United States'
membership in the International Equestrian Federation. Also subject to
the agreement with the International Equestrian Federation that their rules
apply only to the International Military classes, it was decided that a Committee
appointed for that purpose would arrange the details of sending out invitations
for such contests. Such membership to take effect after the 1936 Olympic Games.
By the end of Mr. Maclay's term in 1936, the Association had grown to include
183 Member and Licensed Shows.
Mr. Alfred B. Maclay stepped down on January 3, 1936.
The one year of Pierre Lorillard's presidency was not particularly eventful
and the Executive Committee only met a few times. A new pamphlet containing
the rules was prepared and submitted to the Annual Meeting in January 1937.
At that meeting, Mr. Adrian Van Sinderen was elected President.
As the incoming president, Van Sinderen believed that expansion of the
Association in organization, membership, functioning, and representation
was vital to its existence. The office moved to 90 Broad Street, New York
By June of 1937, another Rule Book was published with several major changes.
The United States was divided into 5 zones, each with a Vice President in
charge and a Regional Committee of five members. The geographic size of the United States
constituted a real hurdle to be crossed in the building of an association of
In 1939, the first Van Sinderen perpetual equitation trophy was placed into
competition. Horse Show magazine was created with a monthly circulation of
1,200 copies, and there were 187 recognized shows, and 800 individual members
in the Association. The Rule Book reached 168 pages.
Mr. Van Sinderen acted as President until 1960.
In 1999, the American Horse Shows Association completed its move—a vision of
then-president Alan F. Balch—to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY,
our "New Kentucky Home".
In 2001, the American Horse Shows Association changed its name to USA Equestrian
to better designate the member organization it had become. With more than 80,000
individual members, more than 2,700 member competitions, and 100 affiliate
organizations, the Federation oversaw 26 breeds and disciplines of competition.
In 2003, USA Equestrian and the United States Equestrian Team developed a new
organization; a single unified family woven together from the many parts of
equestrian governance and leadership.
The primary objective remains the same: to uphold the welfare of horses,
regardless of value, as a primary consideration in all activities. The
United States Equestrian Federation requires that horses be treated with
kindness, respect, and the compassion they deserve, and never be subjected
to mistreatment. The United States Equestrian Federation ensures that owners,
trainers, and exhibitors or their agents use responsible care in handling,
treating, and transporting their horses, as well as horses owned and placed
in their care for any purpose.
The USEF Rule
Book has become the definitive guide to equestrian competition
and the Drugs and Medications office, a cornerstone to the
Federation’s regulatory process, and is copied worldwide.
The United States Equestrian Federation
guides people to provide for the continuous well-being of
horses by encouraging routine inspection and consultation
with health care professionals and competition officials
to achieve the highest possible standards of nutrition,
health, comfort, sanitation, and safety as a matter of standard
operating procedure. By continuing to support scientific
studies on equine health and stress-related issues through
the Equine Health Research Fund, USEF helps to make strides
in advancing the prevention and treatment of equine ailments.
By increasing the methods for education in training and
horsemanship practices, and requiring owners, trainers, and
exhibitors to know and follow their sanctioning organization’s
rules, and to work within the industry regulations in all
equestrian competitions through the use of the Rule Book, USEF
ensures that all competitors—regardless of breed or discipline
affiliation—are on an equal playing field, from the grassroots
to the Olympic level.
The power of many, joined together as one...