The vision of United States Equestrian Federation is to provide leadership for equestrian sport in the United States of America, promoting the pursuit of excellence from the grass roots to the Olympic Games, based on a foundation of fair, safe competition and the welfare of its human and equine athletes, and embracing this vision, to be the best national equestrian federation in the world.
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. He devoted himself to his new presidential duties. Early in his administration, in 1927, the Association first printed the rules. It filled 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 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 State’s membership in the International Equestrian Federation. Subject further to the agreement with the International Equestrian Federation that their rules apply only to the International Military classes, and the sending out of invitations for such contests, details to be arranged by a Committee to be appointed for that purpose – 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 City.
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 size of the United States constituted a real hurdle to be crossed in the building of an association of national scope.
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. 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, to 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 activates. 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 of their horses as well as horses owned and placed in their care for any purpose.
An extensive awards program with an incredibly large and beautiful trophy collection is the pinnacle of excellence many strive to reach. 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, is copied world wide.
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 ensuring 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…
Contributed By: The United States Equestrian Federation