Dear USEF Members,
I am writing to provide you with information that will hopefully eliminate any confusion regarding recent announcements about the Ocala Winter Spectacular 12-week series of hunter/jumper competitions, currently scheduled at the new World Equestrian Center (“WEC”) from January 6 through March 28, 2021.
As background, the WEC in Ocala requested approval to conduct 12 USEF licensed competitions during the 2021 winter season. As these requests created a mileage conflict under the USEF competition licensing rules, WEC chose to apply for competition approval through the mileage exemption process. In accordance with the rules, USEF approved WEC for four weeks of competitions during the 2021 winter season, demonstrating USEF’s good faith to work with organizers to add additional events within mileage boundaries when meeting certain criteria outlined in Chapter 3 of the rulebook. Opportunities to conduct lower level events within the USEF licensing rules during the 12 week period were also identified to WEC. Additionally, USEF supported the addition of new events to the FEI calendar and the allocation of the FEI Jumping Nations Cup™, even though this is the first year of operation of this venue, and the organizer has never hosted an FEI event.
Unfortunately, the WEC has announced it intends to include a mix of hunter/jumper competitions that are both sanctioned by USEF and not sanctioned by USEF as part of the same Ocala Winter Spectacular competition series. WEC has advertised that the USEF unsanctioned events will be sanctioned by the National Snaffle Bit Association (“NSBA”). NSBA is not an affiliate of USEF, and any NSBA events at the Ocala Winter Spectacular would be operated outside of USEF’s rules, including class specifications, field of play rules, scoring systems, and most importantly USEF rules protecting horse and human health and safety. As a result:
- USEF has determined that WEC’s arrangement combining both USEF and NSBA competitions in the same 12-week series is confusing to participants and officials, and most importantly, jeopardizes horse and human safety and welfare. Due to these concerns, USEF has no choice but to withdraw all WEC hunter/jumper competition licenses it previously granted in connection with the Ocala Winter Spectacular.
- Any competitions that proceed as part of the Ocala Winter Spectacular will have no affiliation with USEF or USEF’s rules and, consistent with USEF policy and rules, no USEF Horse of the Year points, USEF Ranking List points, or money won will be earned in connection with the Ocala Winter Spectacular; and
- Due to the same health and safety concerns mentioned above, and in furtherance of the best interests of the sport, USEF will not be granting a license to WEC for the FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ qualifier and we have informed the FEI accordingly. The FEI will make the final decision on this event.
We have notified the FEI that these events are unauthorized. Presumably, the FEI will also decide whether it will apply its unsanctioned event rule which states that any FEI Official, FEI registered Athlete, or FEI registered Horse that participates in an unsanctioned event faces up to six months of ineligibility to participate in FEI competitions and thereby national competitions. In accordance with the “unsanctioned event” rule, FEI Officials, FEI registered Athlete, and owners of FEI registered Horses will be notified no later than 7 days prior to the start of any unsanctioned event.
Please recognize, USEF rules and regulations, including the Drugs & Medications rules and Safe Sport Code, exist to ensure the safety and welfare of our participants and equine partners, as well as a fair and level playing field in the best interests of our sport and Olympics teams. USEF stands firmly behind these rules and regulations.
William J. Moroney
Chief Executive Officer