Why do we need a USEF Amateur card?

USEF-logoWhen you ask anyone what makes an individual an Amateur rather a Professional, they will be very confident in answering that an Amateur is involved in sport for the love of it while a Professional makes money from a sport in addition to loving the sport. How hard is that? Why do we need Amateur cards? Why do we need to pay for them? Great questions with interesting answers.

Deciding what constitutes an Amateur gets more difficult when individuals start to ask questions about what limits there are to what an Amateur might do. Every governing body for every sport grapples with these questions so that they can provide clear, consistent guidance to participants. USEF has a wonderful Sportsman’s Charter to provide some philosophical guidance but discovered long ago that the challenge was to create clear standards, to publish those standards in the form of rules and finally in enforcing those rules.

In past years WDAA has insisted that anyone competing at our World Championship show as an Amateur provide proof of that with either an Amateur card issued by a non USEF Breed like AQHA, an USEF Amateur card or a WDAA Amateur Affidavit. I was surprised by emails after our WC show in 2015 questioning the Amateur status of some competitors. WDAA did not and does not have the resources or the legal and hearing infrastructure to deal with this very important issue.

This year we are a USEF show and USEF is providing those resources and that infrastructure. We have grown as a discipline and grown up as an association; that growth and maturity means that WDAA and our WC show need to step up to the next level. USEF has an obligation to any competitor at a USEF licensed show to enforce the rules to protect exhibitors and horses. This comes at a cost to USEF and at a cost to exhibitors.

When you compete in a Junior Exhibitor class, you only need to be able to prove your age. Anyone can compete in Open classes; that is the definition of “open” to everyone. When you compete in an Amateur class, you have special status in the equine world. Being an Amateur is special; WDAA recognizes this special status and USEF has created rules to guide us and stands ready to enforce those rules to protect us.

USEF is considered the governing body of equine sport in the United States. This is a pretty heavy load to carry. Protecting our horses’ welfare in competitions, ensuring a fair and level playing field and protecting our Amateur status costs USEF a great deal of staff, legal and financial resources. Requiring membership in USEF to have an Amateur card is important to support USEF as it works to protect us and to protect our horses.

I am delighted to be an Amateur; I am grateful to USEF for their support of me as an Amateur; and I am willing to do my part by being a member of USEF.

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