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US Equestrian Announces Refinements to Licensing for USEF Lite Competitions

by US Equestrian Communications Department | Aug 15, 2023, 12:00 PM

Lexington, KY - US Equestrian and the Arabian Horse Association (AHA), American Morgan Horse Association (AMHA), and American Saddlebred Horse and Breeders Association (ASHBA) are pleased to announce refinements to the licensing requirements for USEF Lite competitions.  Leaders from these organizations initially met together during the 2023 USEF Annual Meeting in January to address challenges with the USEF Lite competition structure and began their work to develop solutions that will enhance benefits to participants and organizers of Lite competitions.  Meetings continued through the spring and productive modifications to the eligibility for USEF Lite competition licensing were developed.

“The revisions to the USEF Competition Lite program were a true collaboration between USEF, AHA, AMHA, and ASHBA,” stated ASHBA Executive Director David Mount.  “We appreciate USEF listening to our collective concerns and coming up with solutions to address them. The end result is a program that will greatly benefit our shows and industry."

Included below are the highlights resulting from this work, which are effective immediately:

  • Established horse entry number thresholds to define eligibility for an Arabian, Morgan, Saddlebred/Roadster/Hackney/Harness, or Multi-Breed USEF Lite competitions that will permit these competitions to be licensed as USEF Lite for longer than three years.
    • Thresholds are posted on the USEF website here.
  • A Presidential Modification has been approved to waive the licensing fee of $50 for the 2023 and 2024 competition years for all USEF Lite competitions, regardless of breed or discipline type.
  • A Presidential Modification has been approved to add the “Unless otherwise approved by the Federation” to the Local Competition rule to allow USEF Lite competitions to offer more than $500 in prize money if approved by the Federation. 
    • A rule change proposal has been drafted to amend the rule to align with the Presidential Modification.
  • Organizers of a USEF Lite competition can use a USEF Licensed Steward or TD, or a USEF Applicant Steward or TD to officiate as a Steward at their competition.
    • A grant program has been established to financially assist USEF Lite competition organizers who utilize an Applicant Steward or Applicant TD in the role of competition steward at their competition.  Click here for the grant application.
  • “Multi-breed” dressage classes can be held at USEF Lite competitions.
    • These classes cannot use the name “open” and do not count for USDF or USEF HOTY, scores, or qualifications.
  • Each Affiliate will determine if USEF Lite competitions will count for their affiliate association’s awards and qualifications.
  • The existing rule that requires any adult who signs the USEF Lite competition entry form as Coach or Trainer to be a USEF Competing Member and complete the applicable SafeSport Training remains unchanged.
  • USEF, AHA, AMHA, and ASHBA will proactively work with organizers to assist them with operating USEF Lite competitions.
  • To simplify and clarify USEF Lite competitions for organizers and participants, USEF has produced a quick reference guide (click here) that will outline all the needed steps for organizing and participating in a USEF Lite competition.


“We are very pleased that leaders from AHA, AMHA, and ASHBA joined us on this journey to make USEF Lite a useful competition license to benefit our members and sport.  Open and candid discussions occurred in a safe environment, and this led to trust and alignment on multiple issues,” said Bill Moroney, USEF CEO.


AMHA Executive Director Carrie Mortensen added, “USEF has gone to great lengths to both listen and provide resolutions to the challenges our Morgan community faced with the USEF Lite competition requirements. We feel confident that the amendments made will benefit our Star Shows that desire to transition to the USEF Lite environment. AMHA greatly appreciates USEF’s commitment to providing solutions and looks forward to continued collaboration should any additional obstacles arise.”

The USEF competition license also affords affiliates with existing programs to enhance their branded products by licensing them as USEF Lite competitions. 

“The Arabian Horse Association is pleased to have been a part of the collaboration with USEF as well as the Morgan and Saddlebred leadership to work on the USEF Lite competition license. AHA has had its Value Show program in existence for over a decade and is proud of our program,” said AHA President Deborah Johnson. “AHA has desired to retain our program and the flexibility it affords our competition organizers and participants and solve the gaps of risk for our organizers and licensed officials. Through much work, we have a solution to co-brand the AHA Value Show with the USEF Lite competition. AHA is most pleased with the agreements of the process of the license and with the benefits the license affords. The benefits for participants, organizers, and us as the affiliate are all very good for AHA. This is good for the consistency of sport, risk mitigation for organizers and licensed officials, and preservation of a low-cost entry to participation. I, as AHA President, and Stan Morey as AHA Executive Director, know this is a very well-developed program for AHA and our members.”

Other Recognized Affiliates or competition organizers interested in learning more about the USEF Lite Competition license and the opportunities it affords can find additional information by visiting the USEF Lite Resources page on the USEF website.  For specific licensing questions, please contact the Competitions Department at [email protected].