United States Equestrian Federation

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United States Equestrian Federation
  • Association of American Horse Shows (1917–1933)
  • American Horse Shows Association (1933–2001)
  • USA Equestrian (2001–2003)
FormationOriginal organization formed 1917 (1917)
Most recent reincorporation March 27, 2003 (March 27, 2003)[1]
TypeSports governing body
Legal statusAssociation
HeadquartersLexington, Ky
  • 4001 Wing Commander Way, Lexington, KY 40511
Region served
United States
Tom O'Mara[2][3]

The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF or US Equestrian) is the national governing body for most equestrian sports in the United States.[4][5] It also recruits, trains, and governs American teams in international equestrian competition at the Olympics and other competitions governed by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI).

In 1917 the Association of American Horse Shows' was established, later changing its name to the American Horse Shows Association (AHSA) in 1933 and then to USA Equestrian (USAE) in 2001. In 2003, the association reincorporated as the United States Equestrian Federation. Today the organization governs nationally-recognized competitions for several horse breeds and multiple equestrianism disciplines.

As the result of a 2004 settlement with the United States Olympic Committee, the USEF became the national governing body for equestrian sport. In turn, the United States Equestrian Team (USET) which had previously managed international equestrian matters for the United States, became a charitable foundation to support the USEF’s “high-performance programs and Olympic and Paralympic efforts.”[6]


Competitions in the United States governed by US Equestrian include dressage, driving, endurance riding, eventing, hunt seat equitation, hunter, jumper, para-equestrian, polo, roadster, saddle seat equitation, vaulting, and western competition including equitation, western pleasure, reining, trail, western dressage, and related events. The organization also governs breed shows held in the United States for the Andalusian, Lusitano, Arabian, Half-Arabian/Anglo-Arabian, Connemara, Friesian, Hackney, Morgan, American Saddlebred, National Show Horse, Paso Fino, Shetland, and Welsh breeds.[7]

US Equestrian keeps track of yearly points accumulated at individual horse shows throughout the year and gives awards based on these points at the end of the year. Horse shows governed under the USEF are given an AA, A, B, or C rating. Shows with an AA rating are the most prestigious and often offer the most prize money, whereas shows with a C rating are more local, usually awarding less prize money. Competitions recognized by the USEF must follow its rules and bylaws.[citation needed]

Governing bodies working under the USEF include:

For international competition, the USEF selects and trains the teams that compete in the Olympic sports of dressage, eventing and show jumping as well as internationally recognized competitions in combined driving, endurance riding, equestrian vaulting, reining, and para-equestrian.[8]


On January 20, 1917, representatives of some fifty horse shows met in Manhattan under the leadership of Reginald C. Vanderbilt. Their intention was to unite in order to assure clean competition in the show ring. They formed the Association of American Horse Shows, which by its first annual meeting on January 29, 1918, included the organizers of 26 well-known horse shows. The association incorporated in June 1918. Membership grew to list 35 member shows in 1919, and 67 shows by 1924. By the time of Vanderbilt's death in 1925, the organization had enrolled almost 70 shows as members of the organization.[5]

Alfred B. Maclay was the next individual elected president. Early in his term, in 1927, the association printed its first set of rules, consisting of a six-page pamphlet. The rules were revised continually and have been added to throughout the history of the association. When Maclay's term ended in 1936, membership included 183 shows.[5]

Maclay was followed by Pierre Lorillard as president. He served a year before Adrian Van Sinderen was elected. Under Van Sinderen, the office was relocated to 90 Broad Street in Manhattan. By the end of Van Sinderen's tenure in 1960, the rule book had grown to one hundred and sixty-eight pages.

The need for show stewards, representatives of the association to be present at and report on recognized shows, was recognized in the minutes of a 1930 executive committee meeting. It was not until the 1948 rule book that stewards were written in, and not until the 1960 rule book that licensing of stewards was in place and the association began sending licensed stewards to each affiliated show to report and verify that the show was following the association's rules.[citation needed]

In February 1933 the original name, the Association of American Horse Shows, Inc., was changed to the American Horse Shows Association, Inc. At the same meeting, individual members were recognized in addition to show members. By 1935, AHSA membership had grown to include 183 members and shows. In 1937, the new rule book reflected the growth of the association by dividing the United States into five zones, each with a vice president and a five-member regional committee. In 1939, the association began publication of the monthly magazine, Horse Show, with an initial circulation of 1,200 copies. By this time there were 187 recognized shows, and 800 individual members.[citation needed]

In 1999, the association moved from its Manhattan office to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, and in 2001, AHSA changed its name to USA Equestrian (USAE), stating the new name more effectively represented the organization's role in governance of equestrian sport. At that time, the organization had over 80,000 individual members. There were more than 2,700 member competitions, 100 affiliate organizations, and 26 breeds and disciplines were recognized.[citation needed]

International competition[edit]

In 1935, an AHSA committee reported on their investigation of the transfer of control of the United States' membership in the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) membership from the United States Cavalry Association to the AHSA. The transfer of membership took place after the 1936 Summer Olympics, and after that, in the United States, the FEI rules applied only to international military classes. .[citation needed]

Parallel to the AHSA and its successor organizations, the United States Equestrian Team was created in 1950. First called the International Equestrian Competition Corporation, it was “to select, train, equip and finance our nation’s international equestrian representation with special emphasis on the North American fall circuit of international shows and the 1952 Olympic Games.” It continued to be the organization that handled matters related to international equestrian competition until 2003, when it became a foundation that raised money to support American competitors in international equestrian sport.[9]

United States Equestrian Federation[edit]

At the time the Amateur Sports Act of 1978 passed, the AHSA and the United States Equestrian Team (USET) each handled some but not all of the duties of a national governing body (NGB) for equestrian sport. After the 1998 revisions to the act, matters came to a head. In 1999, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) mandated that there could only be one NGB for equestrian sport and it was to govern both national events as well as American participation at the Olympic and international level. The USOC filed a legal challenge in August 2000. In 2003, a settlement was agreed to by the AHSA and the USET and ratified in 2004, creating one national governing body. The USET as an organization became the United States Equestrian Team Foundation, a philanthropic partner focused on fundraising to support “high-performance programs” and Olympic and Paralympic efforts.[6]

In 2003, USA Equestrian restructured to take on the work previously handled by the United States Equestrian Team (USET) as a national governing body and became the United States Equestrian Federation. The new USEF was incorporated in New York on March 27, 2003.[1]

In 2017, USEF rebranded as US Equestrian.[10] Under then-president and former Lorillard Tobacco Company executive, Murray Kessler, a longtime horse owner and amateur competitor whose daughter had ridden on the 2012 Olympic team. Kessler implemented a new strategic plan for the organization and served until 2020.[11][12] In this time period, USEF outsourced its laboratory services to the University of Kentucky and opened a new headquarters building. Membership, which had been stagnant at about 80,000 members, expanded to allow “fan” members to join. By 2020, membership rose to 87,000 regular members and 100,000 fan members. There were 81,000 horses competing in over 2,300 shows nationwide.[13] In addition, USEF implemented SafeSport protocols and training requirements.[14]

The USEF now has two sets of duties. It trains, selects, and funds the United States Equestrian Teams that compete in international competition, and also develops and enforces rules for U.S. competition for various breeds and disciplines. [6][8]


  1. ^ a b "Corporate establishment documents" (PDF). Secretary of State of Kentucky. Retrieved March 13, 2024.
  2. ^ Ryle, Zack (January 25, 2024). "USEF Board of Directors Welcomes New Board Members, Re-elects Tom O'Mara as President". usef.org. Retrieved February 27, 2024.
  3. ^ "Board of Directors". USEF. Retrieved March 12, 2024.
  4. ^ "About Us - Who We Are". usef.org. Retrieved February 27, 2024.
  5. ^ a b c "National Federation - United State of America - (USA)". FEI.org. Retrieved February 27, 2024.
  6. ^ a b c Tevis, Ruby (October 9, 2021). "A History of Equestrian Sport in the U.S. and Getting Equestrian Teams to the Olympics". Sidelines Magazine. Retrieved March 21, 2024.
  7. ^ "Introduction to Breeds and Disciplines". US Equestrian. Retrieved March 21, 2024.
  8. ^ a b "U.S. Equestrian Teams". US Equestrian. Retrieved March 21, 2024.
  9. ^ "Historic Milestones". USET Foundation. Retrieved March 21, 2024.
  10. ^ "USEF Unveils Complete Rebrand, Launches New Member Benefits". US Equestrian. Retrieved March 21, 2024.
  11. ^ "A Statement from USEF President Murray Kessler". US Equestrian. Retrieved March 21, 2024.
  12. ^ "Get To Know New USEF President Murray Kessler - The Chronicle of the Horse". Retrieved March 21, 2024.
  13. ^ "President Murray Kessler Outlines Key Areas of Success and Introduces Goals for the Future at 2020 US Equestrian Annual Meeting". US Equestrian. Retrieved March 21, 2024.
  14. ^ "Letter from US Equestrian President and CEO Regarding Safe Sport". US Equestrian. Retrieved March 21, 2024.