Mar 10, 2019

Rule Refresher: Declaring Amateur Status


Each rider is required to declare their professional or amateur status upon renewing their USEA membership each year. But what exactly are the definitions of amateur and professional? The USEF Rules for Eventing outline the criteria that make a rider ineligible for amateur status in GR1306 - Professional/Amateur Status, and we're breaking it down for you to highlight what does and does not make a rider an amateur or professional.

Text has been taken directly from the USEF Rules for Eventing, with emphasis added by the USEA.

Appendix 3 - Participation in Horse Trials

Section 1.1.3 AMATEUR (A)

The following may participate in Eventing competitions as an Amateur:

a) Any competitor in possession of a valid Amateur card issued by the USEF, or

b) Any Senior USEA member who competes in the Training, Novice, or Beginner Novice level who meets the requirements of Federation GR1306. Individuals declaring such status must present, upon demand, an audited financial statement in support of the claim of eligibility; failure to do so will be deemed a violation. Misrepresentation of eligibility under this provision will subject an individual to disciplinary action under GR1307.6, GR1307.8, GR1308.3 and Chapter 6. Amateur certification under this provision is valid for Eventing competitions only and does not confer Amateur status for participation in any other Breed or Discipline.


GR1306 Professional/Amateur Status

  1. Regardless of one’s equestrian skills and/or accomplishments, a person is an amateur if after his 18th birthday, as defined in GR101, he has not engaged in any of the activities identified in paragraph 4 below.
  2. Remuneration is defined as compensation or payment in any form such as cash, goods, sponsorships, discounts, or services; reimbursement of any expenses; trade or in-kind exchange of goods or services such as board or training.
  3. An Amateur is permitted to do the following:
    1. Accept reimbursement for actual expenses associated with conducting classroom seminars for a not-for-profit organization, therapeutic riding programs, or programs for charitable organizations approved in advance by the Federation.
    2. Act as a camp counselor when not hired in the exclusive capacity as a riding instructor; assist in setting schooling fences without remuneration; give instruction or training to handicapped riders for therapeutic purposes.
    3. Appear in advertisements and/or articles related to acknowledgement of one’s own personal or business sponsorship of a competition and/or awards earned by one’s owned horses.
    4. Accept prize money as the owner of a horse in any class other than equitation or showmanship classes.
    5. Accept prize money in dressage.
    6. Accept a non-monetary token gift of appreciation valued less than $300 annually.
    7. Serve as an intern for college credit or course requirements at an accredited institution provided one has never held professional status with the Federation or any other equestrian National Federation. In addition, one may accept reimbursement for expenses without profit, as prescribed by the educational institution’s program, for the internship. In the hackney, roadster, American Saddlebred, saddle seat equitation, Morgan, Andalusian/Lusitano, Friesian, Arabian, and national show horse divisions, college students may also accept a stipend during the internship served under this paragraph. At the request of the Federation, an Amateur shall provide certification from the accredited educational institution under whose auspices a student is pursuing an internship that he is undertaking the internship to meet course or degree requirements.
    8. Write books or articles related to horses.
    9. Accept remuneration for providing service in one’s capacity as a presenter or panelist at a Federation licensed officials’ clinic, competition manager, competition secretary, judge, steward, technical delegate, course designer, announcer, TV commentator, veterinarian, groom, farrier, tack shop operator, breeder, or boarder, or horse transporter.
    10. Accept reimbursement for any bona fide expenses directly related to the horse (i.e. farrier/vet bills, entries). Travel, hotel, equipment, and room and board are not considered bona fide expenses.
    11. Entries for non-under saddle classes in amateur sections at hunter, jumper or hunter/jumper competitions, must be paid either (i) directly to the competition by the Amateur or by the Amateur’s family or (ii) by someone whom the Amateur or the Amateur’s family reimburses within 90 days of the last day of the competition for which entries were paid.
    12. Accept educational competition or training grant(s).
  4. Unless expressly permitted above, a person is a professional if after his 18th birthday he does any of the following:
    1. Accepts remuneration AND rides, exercises, drives, shows, trains, assists in training, schools, or conducts clinics or seminars.
    2. Accepts remuneration AND gives riding or driving lessons, showmanship lessons, equitation lessons, trains horses, or provides consultation services in riding, driving, showmanship, equitation, or training of horses.
    3. Accepts remuneration AND acts as an employee in a position such as a groom, farrier, bookkeeper, veterinarian, or barn manager AND instructs, rides, drives, shows, trains, or schools horses that are owned, boarded, or trained by his employer, any member of his employer’s family, or a business in which his employer has an ownership interest.
    4. Accepts remuneration AND uses his name, photograph, or other form of personal association as a horseperson in connection with any advertisement or product/service for sale, including but not limited to apparel, equipment, or property.
    5. Accepts prize money unless permitted in paragraph 3d or 3e above.
    6. Rides, drives, or shows any horse that a cohabitant or family member or a cohabitant or family member’s business receives remuneration for boarding, training, riding, driving, or showing. A cohabitant or family member of a trainer may not absolve themselves of this rule by entering into a lease or any other agreement for a horse owned by a client of the trainer.
    7. Gives instruction to any person or rides, drives, or shows any horse, for which activity his cohabitant or another person in his family or business in which his cohabitant or a family member controls will receive remuneration for the activity. A cohabitant or family member of a trainer may not absolve themselves of this rule by entering into a lease or any other agreement for a horse owned by a client of the trainer.
    8. Accepts remuneration AND acts as an agent in the sale of a horse or pony or accepts a horse or pony on consignment for the purpose of sale or training that is not owned by him, his cohabitant, or a member of his family, a farm/ranch/syndicate/partnership/corporation/business in which he, his cohabitant, or a member of his family controls.
    9. Advertises one’s equestrian services such as training or instruction.
    10. Accepts remuneration AND acts as an intern, apprentice, or working student whose responsibilities include, but are not limited to, riding, driving, showmanship, handling, showing, training or assisting in training, giving lessons/coaching, and/or schooling horses other than horses actually owned by him.
    11. Accepts remuneration in excess of rental fee for use of a facility, ring, or school horses.
    12. Accepts remuneration for such use AND uses commercial logoed items while on competition grounds unless expressly permitted by applicable division rules.
  5. A person is also deemed a professional after his 18th birthday, if he accepts remuneration for his spouse, family member, or cohabitant engaging in any activity enumerated in 4a-i above. For the purposes of this rule, the term cohabitant is defined as any individuals living together in a relationship, as would a married couple, but not legally married.
  6. After an investigation as to proper status has been initiated, and upon request by the Federation and to the satisfaction of the Federation, an Amateur shall submit verifiable proof of Amateur status, including but not limited to a bill of sale for any horse(s) the Amateur is competing in classes restricted to Amateur Owners. If the Federation deems such proof insufficient, then the Federation may initiate proceedings under Chapter 6. Any individual found to have knowingly assisted in the violation of the Amateur rule may also be subject to proceedings in accordance with Chapter 6. See GR1307.
  7. For specific inquiries, email [email protected].

GR1307 Amateur Status

  1. Only active Federation members may obtain Amateur status. Every person who has reached his/her 18th birthday and competes in classes for amateurs under Federation rules must possess current Amateur status issued by the Federation. (Exception: This is not required for opportunity classes except for the dressage division. If opportunity classes are offered at dressage competitions or regular/local competitions with “Open” dressage classes and are restricted to Amateurs, riders are required to have Amateur status with the Federation). This status must be available for inspection or the competitor must have lodged with the competition secretary, at least one hour prior to such class, an application for such status provided by the Federation. Amateur status will be issued only on receipt of the application properly signed and is revocable at any time for cause. Foreign riders requesting Federation Amateur status must be a Junior, Senior, or Life Competing Member of the Federation (Exception: Equestrian Canada members in possession of current EC membership may sign for USEF Amateur status on a show by show basis at no cost). Any person who has not reached his/her 18th birthday is an amateur and does not require amateur status.
  2. An Amateur continues to be such until he/she has received a change in status from the Federation. Any Amateur who wishes to be re-classified on the grounds that he/she has engaged or is planning on engaging in activities which would prevent him/her from continuing to remain an Amateur must notify the Federation in writing.
  3. There is no fee for Amateur status for Senior Active or Life Members.
  4. If a person violates or does not comply with the above, he/she will not be eligible to compete in Amateur classes and will not be entitled to an award in such classes and will be deemed guilty of a violation within the meaning of Chapter 7 in the event he/she does compete.
  5. In the event a person is found to be a professional as a result of a protest or charge made in connection with a competition, all awards won by such person in Amateur classes at such competition and subsequent competitions shall be forfeited and returned to the competition and the person shall be subject to further disciplinary action. The holding of an Amateur card does not preclude the question of amateur standing being raised by a protest or charge.
  6. The trainer may be subject to disciplinary action if an exhibitor who shows as an Amateur is protested, and that protest is sustained by the Hearing Committee, and it is determined that the trainer had knowledge of their professional activities. Any changes of status from Professional to Amateur, or vice versa, will be published on the Federation’s web site.
  7. An exhibitor who engages a person to ride, drive, or show in halter in any amateur class and then remunerates such person beyond the extent to which such amateur is entitled as provided above in GR1306 will be subject to disciplinary action under Chapter 7.
  8. Any person who under these rules is a professional and knowingly and falsely represents himself/herself to be an Amateur by declaring or maintaining current Amateur status issued by the Federation and any person who violates any of the provisions of this rule will be subject to disciplinary action under Chapter 7.
  9. A professional continues to be such until he/she has received Amateur status by a vote of the Hearing Committee. Any professional who wishes to be reclassified as an Amateur on the grounds that he/she has not engaged in the activities which made him/her a professional within the last twelve months must notify the Federation in writing.
    1. Such person shall submit to the Hearing Committee an Amateur reclassification request which is supported by:
      1. A notarized letter signed by him/her outlining the horse related activities (using specific dates) which made said person a professional and outlining the activities performed within the twelve month period (or longer) since professional activities have ceased;
      2. Two or more notarized letters from any Senior Active Federation members stating the relationship with the applicant and outlining the applicant's activities for the one year period preceding such written notification advising and testifying that the applicant has not engaged in any activities which would make him/her a professional as outlined in GR1306 during that period;
      3. A processing fee of $50;
      4. Sign and declare Amateur status on a current USEF membership application. The burden of proof of proving Amateur status is on the applicant. The Hearing Committee may call for and/or consider any and all further evidence and facts which it deems pertinent.
      5. The decision of the Hearing Committee on the reclassification request shall be final.
    2. Any changes of status from professional to Amateur, or vice versa, will be published on the Federation’s website.
  10. Any changes of status from professional to Amateur, or vice versa, will be published on the Federation’s website.

You may change from an amateur to professional at any time. Please contact the USEA office at 703-779-0440 or email [email protected] or [email protected] to change your status. If you are unclear about whether you qualify as an amateur or professional, please email [email protected].

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