Amauter Status?

What does this really mean? I’d like to open this up for discussion. My understanding in the rule book is this…. anyone receiving anything;  free/cut day fees, show fees, training, lessons or cash for services performed on other clients horses, which would include training horses, training riders, barn help, exercising horses, show help etc.; from anyone, should be excluded from the Amateur classes. As show season is upon us, I’d like to hear from others on this topic.




37 Responses to Amauter Status?

  1. mrmi says:

    Great question, I was curious about this too! When should a person show Amateur? I am 19 so I am now out of the Jr. Exhibitor division. Should I show Youth or Amateur? Can a person show in both?

  2. empressive says:

    It says that the Youth classes only go up to the age of 18 so then how does that work if you have a Youth Membership that covers you until your 22(?) B-Day?

    I guess though because you own the horse you can capably show as an Amy. How families can show against each other.

    But I haven’t seen any Youth classes that allow you to show over 19. So how is that supposed to work?

  3. IED says:

    A person can show in both Youth and Amateur (provided they are an Amateur). It’s up to you which divisions you choose to show in. The Youth is set up like an Open class with (I think?? I might be wrong) a little more precendent placed on manners being that the riders tend to be younger.

    Once you are over 18 you are allowed to show Amateur (provided you have the requisite Amateur card). You can also now show Ladies or Gentlemens, depending on what you are :)

    As far as the Amateur rules go, I am under the impression that expenses may be paid by the owner/trainer (whatever) but that clear monetary compensation cannot be exchanged. If an amateur shows a horse for someone, often times they are thanked with a gift certificate or what have you.

    To borrow from the rulebook:

    “2. The following activities do not affect the amateur status of a person who is otherwise

    d. Accepting a token of appreciation, other than money, for riding, driving or showing in
    halter/in hand. (Note: Horse board, prize money, partial support or objects of more than
    $300 are considered remuneration, not small tokens of appreciation). (Also note:
    accepting any amount of money, whether more or less than $300, is considered
    remuneration.) Prize money won by an amateur-owner rider/driver/handler in any class
    (other than equitation or showmanship) is not considered remuneration. ”


    “USEF Rule GR1306.2.c added effective immediately on 2/17/09:
    2. The following activities do not affect the amateur status of a person who is otherwise
    c. Accepting reimbursement for any expenses directly related to the horse (i.e. farrier/vet bills, entries) however, does not include travel,hotel, room and board or equipment. EC 2/17/09 Effective immediately”

    There is an interesting thread in regards to this on Chronicle of the Horse: link…

  4. IED says:

    Also, Empressive, one may show in a Youth class up to the age of 21 (or maybe it’s 22. I forget… I should know this). Junior Exhibitor is only up to the age of 18. Hope that clears it up.

  5. Scottfield03 says:

    Here it is… long, but copied and pasted straight from the USEF Rule Book:

    And I quote:

    GR1306 Amateur Status.
    1. Regardless of one’s equestrian skills and/or accomplishments, a person is an amateur
    for all competitions conducted under Federation rules who after his/her 18th birthday, as
    defined in GR101, has not engaged in any of the following activities which would make
    him/her a professional. Exception: In the Dressage Division, individuals are only eligible to
    compete as amateurs from the beginning of the calendar year in which they reach age 22.
    See DR119.3. In the Reining Division, amateur status will be determined per Reining
    Division Non Pro Conditions; see amateur status RN105. (For professionals wishing to be
    re-classified as amateurs, see GR1308.2a): EC 11/17/08 Effective immediately
    a. Accepts remuneration for riding, driving, showing, training, schooling or
    conducting clinics or seminars.
    b. Accepts remuneration for giving riding or driving lessons, lessons in showmanship,
    instructions in equitation or horse training. (Persons acting as counselors at summer
    camps, who are not hired in the exclusive capacity of riding instructors are excluded
    and persons giving instruction and training to the handicapped).
    © USEF 2009 GR197
    c. Accepts remuneration for employment in other capacity (e.g., secretary, bookkeeper,
    veterinarian, groom, farrier) and gives instruction, rides, drives, shows, trains or schools
    horses, other than horses actually owned or leased by him/her, when his/her employer
    or a member of the family of said employer or a corporation which a member of his/her
    family controls, owns, boards or trains said horses.
    d. Accepts remuneration for the use of his or her name, photograph or other form of
    personal association as a horseman in connection with any advertisement or article
    (including but not limited to clothing, product, equipment, etc.) to be sold.
    EC 2/17/09 Effective immediately
    e. Accepts prize money in equitation or showmanship classes. Prize money may be
    accepted by amateur riders in Dressage.
    f. Rides, drives or shows, any horse for which he/she or a member of his/her family or
    a corporation which a member of his/her family controls, receives remuneration for
    boarding, training, riding, driving or showing. (A 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).
    g. Gives instruction to any person or rides, drives or shows any horse, for which activity
    another person in his/her family or corporation which a member of his/her family controls
    will receive remuneration for the activity. (A 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).
    h. Accepts remuneration, as defined in GR1306.2d, for selling horses/ponies, acts as a
    paid agent in the sale of horses/ponies or takes horses/ponies on consignment for the
    purpose of sale or training other than those owned wholly or in part by him/her or by a
    member of his/her family or farm/ranch/syndicate/partnership/corporation which he/she
    or a member of his/her family controls.
    i. Advertising professional services such as training or giving lessons by way of
    business cards, print ads, or internet.
    j. For Amateurs in Jumper Sections, see JP117.
    k. For Amateurs in Eventing sections, see EV Appendix 3 – Participation in Horse
    2. The following activities do not affect the amateur status of a person who is otherwise
    a. The writing of books or articles pertaining to horses.
    b. Accepting remuneration for officiating as a judge, steward, technical delegate,
    course designer, announcer or participating as a TV commentator, or accepting bona
    fide remuneration for services as a veterinarian, groom, farrier, tack shop operator or
    breeder, or for accepting bona fide remuneration for boarding services.
    c. Accepting reimbursement for any expenses directly related to the horse (i.e.
    farrier/vet bills, entries) however, does not include travel,hotel, room and board or
    equipment. EC 2/17/09 Effective immediately
    d. Accepting a token of appreciation, other than money, for riding, driving or showing in
    halter/in hand. (Note: Horse board, prize money, partial support or objects of more than
    $300 are considered remuneration, not small tokens of appreciation). (Also note:
    accepting any amount of money, whether more or less than $300, is considered
    remuneration.) Prize money won by an amateur-owner rider/driver/handler in any class
    (other than equitation or showmanship) is not considered remuneration.
    e. Having the occupation of veterinarian, groom, farrier or owning a tack shop or
    breeding or boarding stable in itself, does not affect the amateur status of a person who
    is otherwise qualified.
    f. Any person who is serving an internship for college credit through his/her
    respective, accredited college program, and who has never held professional status,
    can accept reimbursement for expenses without profit.
    GR1307 Amateur Certification.
    1. Every person who has reached his/her 18th birthday and competes in classes for
    amateurs under Federation rules must possess current amateur certification issued by the
    Federation. This certification 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 certification provided by the Federation. Forms may be obtained from the
    GR198 © USEF 2009
    Federation. Certification will be issued only on receipt of the application properly signed and
    is revocable at any time for cause. Any person who has not reached his/her 18th birthday is
    an amateur and does not require amateur certification.
    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 certification for Senior Active or Life Members. An annual
    fee of $30 will be charged for an amateur card or amateur certification for an individual who
    is not a member of The Federation or Equine Canada. Such certification will expire on
    November 30th.
    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. EC 10/20/08 Effective immediately
    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. Any person whose application for amateur status or its renewal has been denied by the
    Federation may request a hearing by the Hearing Committee or by such individual or
    committee as it may designate to review said decision. The request must be in writing and
    mailed to the Hearing Committee within ten (10) days from receipt of the decision sought to
    be reviewed and accompanied by $150.
    a. The hearing shall be after ten days notice to all parties concerned. The notice shall
    contain a brief statement of the facts reporting the position of the Federation and shall
    specify the time and place at which the hearing is to be held. The person requesting
    said hearing may attend and bring witnesses, sworn statements or other evidence on
    his or her behalf. Upon the written request of a representative of the Federation or of
    the person requesting the hearing, there shall be furnished before said hearing any
    evidence to be introduced, the names of witnesses and the substance of their
    b. The decision of the Hearing Committee or the person or committee designated to
    preside at said hearing shall be final.
    c. Protests or charges brought in connection with a person’s amateur status shall be
    handled in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 6.
    7. 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. (See GR1306 and
    GR1308 Professional Status.
    1. A person who engages in the activities described in GR1306 is considered a
    professional for all competitions conducted under Federation rules.
    2. 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 re-classified as an amateur
    on the grounds that he/she has not engaged in the activities which made him/her a
    professional within the last 12 months must notify the Federation in writing.
    a. Such person shall submit to the Hearing Committee an amateur reclassification
    request which is supported by:
    (1) a notarized letter signed by him or her outlining the horse related activities
    (using specific dates) which made said person a professional and outlining the
    activities performed within the 12 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
    © USEF 2009 GR199
    the applicant has not engaged in any activities which would make him/her a
    professional as outlined in GR1306 during that time period,
    (3) A processing fee of $50,
    (4) a signed amateur certification located on 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. The decision of the Hearing Committee on the reclassification request
    shall be final.
    b. Any changes of status from professional to amateur, or vice versa, shall be
    published in equestrian.
    3. 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
    certification 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.
    4. An exhibitor who engages a person to ride, drive or show in halter in any amateur
    class and then remunerates such person above and beyond the extent to which such
    amateur is entitled as provided above in GR1306.2d. will be subject to disciplinary action
    under Chapter 7.
    5. Please contact the Federation office for information regarding International Professional

  6. j.a.b. says:

    In the morgan division youth is 21 and under. You can show in both youth and amateur, unless the class or show specs specifically say no.
    At many show a jr exhib can even show in amateur, again some shows will specifically say no to this but it has to be in their prizelist that way.
    Jr exhibitors are automatically amateurs even if they are making lots of money training/showing etc. Once you are “aged out” of jr. exhibitor the choice comes in to be amateur or professinal.
    Oh, and to muddy the waters a bit more, a professional under the age of 21 can show in youth classes.
    Because the rule book is often cloudy it is always best to call USEF directly to get a clear answer on your situation/questions.

  7. PrincessPrada says:

    I know of a young lady who works at a farm. She regularly competes in amateur classes on horses paying to be in the training program. She and the trainer are not related. She gets paid cash under the table. She has regular hours, and is a very good rider. Some of these horses are only ridden by her, not the trainer. To me, and to many others who have been watching this situation, it sure looks like she is at least the trainer’s assistant. She also owns a horse there, and we have heard out of her own mouth that she pays a reduced board rate in exchange for her services. She cleans stalls, feeds, sits the farm when the trainer is away, shows at the shows, and gives a lesson from time to time. She is in college and going for equine studies. Can she legally show as an amateur? I am an amateur and it really bothers me that she is always in my classes. What can I do to stop it?

  8. StacyGRS says:

    If this girl is working in a program thru school, she can indeed remain an ama. They have to sign up for the equine studies programs thru certain schools and then they can apprentice/intern and still show as an ama. They can only be paid to cover living expenses, etc and there are some details, but it is covered. She can only do this while enrolled, so, she’ll be out of the program before you know it. In the meantime, be glad someone is showing interest in entering the industry…the more new trainers we have the healthier our show world will be.

  9. j.a.b. says:

    you can file a protest with USEF. Unless its changed, and I haven’t checked lately, I believe its a $100 fee. At your next show speak to the steward, make them aware of the situation and ask them to look into it or at least be aware of it. Contact USEF and see what you need to do and how. Of course you could start by expressing your concerns to the person and the trainer. They could both be at risk for USEF sanctions and if they know there is a mutiny afoot they might change their tactics

  10. ago8281 says:

    We have one of those near me as well. Works for a large trainer, actually handles all billing and clients when the trainer is out of town, gets paid under the table and shows in mmie and classic. BIG JOKE. No one will file a protest as they do not want to hurt the kids in the program and most are associated with at least one. Thats how they know she is in charge and paid. She is about 30 so no way she is a student. Anyone from NE knows just who I am talking about

  11. Carley says:

    this has been a grey area for me for awhile, although i always errored on the side of caution and showed as a professional.
    ive been working for a training for the last 3 years, i was still in school and had no other income. working paid for my living expenses and i was paid on the books.
    from what ive read i guess i could have technically shown as an ammy. but i know there are a few local trainers who would have put up a stink. just to avoid that i stayed out of those classes. but i do still enjoy my youth class since my boss and i seem to always end up as eachothers competition. she’s too old for those ones tho :)

  12. morganfarm1 says:

    This seems to be a “norm” in the show world. A stable by me has someone listed as barn manager yet still shows in amatuer classes. Its a shame to have to lie or cheat your way to a ribbon. This only discourages newcomers or beginners and should be frowned upon. Isn’t it much more satisfying earning the ribbon/respect knowing that you are judged fairly.

  13. StacyGRS says:

    a barn manager can show as an ama as long as they are not working or showing horses that are paying training.

  14. leslie says:

    I think it’s unfortunate that college students can’t make money at their summer jobs without losing their amateur status. That may not matter to students at schools with IHSA teams, but students at William Woods or Stephens, who show at regular shows, can’t get paid to work horses and then come back to school in the fall and show as an amateur.

    I think exceptions should be made for students who are only training or teaching seasonally. I don’t think it’s good for the industry to make aspiring trainers in college equestrian programs to choose between earning money in the summer and keeping their ammy status.

    Some of the stock horse breeds have a non-pro division, which I think is somewhere between amateur and professional, but I can’t figure out what the distinction is. I think it has something to do with prize money earnings, which isn’t really as much of a factor in the Morgan world.

  15. Scottfield03 says:

    This is a frustrating topic to me. The rules are the rules. You don’t have to like them, but you do have to follow them.

    I made a lot of money giving lessons through my Jr Ex years, and the day I turned 18, I turned in my Ammy card. No questions asked. And I was giving lessons in back yards as well as the show barn, always cash. I am sure I could have gotten away with showing as an amateur for those first few years, particularly while I was in school. But I wanted to pursue this professionally, and wanted to do it with integrity. For me, that meant giving up my amateur status at 18.

    I have NEVER filed a protest, likely never will. But I think anyone starting their professional career by working the system to get a few more years as an ammy is selling themselves short, and obviously (see above) not establishing the kind of reputation they will want as a professional.

    You don’t have to like the rules to follow them. And it shouldn’t be because you might get caught, but because it is the right thing to do.

    I agree that students should be able to earn some money in the summer and then go back to school with their ammy status firmly in tact. Thankfully, we have a wonderful system for altering and modifying rules.

    Maybe there should be an amount you can earn, cumulatively, before you have to claim professional status?

    And lets not forget about the Youth division– the perfect division for young trainers who are pursuing this professionally but are still working through school.

  16. leslie says:

    It seems to me the rule about college students not earning more than living expenses is fairly recent. I remember it being a year or two after I graduated from college, in 2003. I’d be curious to know the motivation behind the change. Maybe there’s a good reason, but all I can think is that people were tired of getting beat by soon-to-be trainers in the amateur division.

    I think it would be nice if there was some middle ground. I used to teach riding lessons before selling out and becoming a cubicle dweller. I’ve entertained the thought of teaching a few lessons on the side, but since my horse was a Classic horse and I still wanted to show him, I couldn’t do it. Now he’s semi-retired so it isn’t a huge deal, but since I don’t really have a show horse I’d like to keep open the possibility of catch riding (unlikely, but I like to be optimistic) and being a pro by USEF definition would sort of destroy that.

    If there was an open Classic division and an AOT Classic division so that pros could show young classic horses but amateurs would still have their own class, would that help solve the problem? Or are the faux-amateurs more of a problem in the ammy divisions of other classes?

  17. colwilrin says:

    I don’t know if anyone else agrees with me, but I have a problem with one of the Amateur rules. A professional, regardless of how long they have trained horses, may apply for an amateur card if they stop training. I think this needs a bit of reconsideration.

    I just don’t understand this. I thought the purpose of having an amateur division is that it provides a place for those not schooled in or experts with training techniques to compete against their peers.

    If this is the purpose of the amateur division, how can someone who was a trainer become an amateur. Do they promise to forget everything they know? Not use their expertise? I just don’t get it. It essentially means that if my trainer decided that he wanted to be a car salesman, he could quit training, apply for an amateur card, and I’d be showing against him next season in the Amateur.

    I know they wouldn’t, but the rules make it possible even for world champion trainers such as Mike Goebig, David Rand, Lynn Peeples, Judy Nason, Mary Carlton, Eitan, and others to show amateur.

    Am I the only one who thinks that there should be a “pro card” not an amateur one…and once issued, it should be for life? Isn’t that the way it works in other sports? Sometimes I think the rules are a bit silly.

  18. colwilrin says:

    Just had another thought.

    Is there a process that a person goes through to regain amateur status that would involve a look at their professional accomplishments?

    Maybe there is, and I am not aware of it.

  19. leslie says:

    There’s a flip side to that, though. I taught lessons for a few years after college and couldn’t show as an amateur, but I absolutely would not fit in in a class full of pros. I have several friends who worked as trainers or assistant trainers but for various reasons decided they didn’t want to do it anymore and moved on to other careers. But they’re still equestrians and still want to compete.

    Forcing people to choose pro or amateur for life would deter some riders from pursuing a career as a trainer or instructor. Lots of young trainers burn out and end up changing careers. I think we’d lose a lot of competitors if we discouraged anyone who had ever been a trainer from showing.

  20. colwilrin says:

    Don’t you think it would also deter just anyone from “hanging a shingle” if it had to be a hard thought out choice? I know we don’t want to lose a number of trainers, because they aren’t lining up at the door, but some people who are training, really shouldn’t be.

    I’ve known a couple of trainers that really shouldn’t have gone into the business, and people paid a lot of money for below par services. Then when that word got out, and client’s dried up, that person “folded up shop” and became an amateur again. Note: I’m not saying those trainers were deceitful, I think they just took on more than they were ready for.

    Maybe there should be some sort of screening process to get a “trainer’s card.” Or,conversely to regain an “amateur card” after accepting money for services. That way the USEF could assure that each of the divisions contained the people who they designed their specs to fit.

    As for the young trainers that burn out. We wouldn’t necessarily be losing them as competitors. They would still be eligible to show in open, jr. horse, ladies, gentleman, novice, limit, and maiden. They just would have to forego amateur. For example, what if Mary Carlton, Stacy Hennesey, or Alicia Frasier (the young trainers that instantly came to my mind) burned out and decided to not train (God forbid as they are all really super)…would you be happy showing against them in amateur, or do you think they should be held out of that division? No offense to any of the ladies if they are listening!

  21. empressive says:

    I think the kicker is that there is no diff. between the Ammie and Trainer classes. One caters to the inexperianced riders the other to the experianced. I personally look forward to Trainer only classes as I go into college. To me that means the competition is stiffer and winning becomes only better and more gratifying. I feel bad beating out people that are Ammies and really not that good. At least trainers are expected to be good.

    Oh and thanks for all the info everyone! Learning more everyday! Sorry for block form too. I am writing from my phone. HeHe…

  22. IED says:

    Empressive I find that comment to be rather short sighted and kind of rude. Amateurs aren’t that good? There are a LOT of VERY, VERY good amateur riders. There are a lot of intermediate but still good amateurs, and then there are the ‘bad apples’ so to speak (and might I just say that it is the same in the trainer classes?).

    I find the Amateur classes stiffer competition than many of the Open classes because the horses are better, the classes are bigger, and there are quite a few very talented riders.

    I love to ride the Open classes and would ride them instead of Amateur any day out of the week. The Junior Horse classes and Open Championships are of particular interest to me.

    I did find it interesting, the poster that mentioned there ought to be a Classic division for the junior horses to be shown by the trainer. There are times when a 3 or 4 year old shouldn’t really be driven or ridden by an amateur. Sure, they can cross-enter into the English division, but if they’re not really an English horse, it’s not very fair to the animal.

  23. IED says:

    Just wanted to make an edit to that last reply – in the Amateur classes, AT TIMES the horses are better than those found in the Open, and vice versa. Quality may be found in all divisions, Open, Ammy, and Jr Exhibitor all alike.

  24. empressive says:

    Poo Poo I am sorry IED!

    I do not mean to be short_sighted or anything like that and certainly not rude, but after you comment I must say and please to do not be mad at me I am just thinking things out.

    If there is such a great diversity in the Ammie classes from very good riders to bad apples (as you put it) Then besides principle why is there a problem for these “trainer” people to be in the class? I think that is why no one has done anything yet to expell these people from riding.

    Besides rules (which no one is enforcing) it is basically a level playing field. Therefore the difference is that one person is getting money for their skills and the other is not. Gosh if that is the case then I would be jealous. LOL

  25. empressive says:

    Humbug I cut myself off! Sorry :(

    Now please do not get mad at me. I am simply churning over some thoughts and found this site kind to simple ideas were elsewhere you get roared at. Basically this all comes down to action. We either follow the rules and make sure everyone else does too or let everything fall to pieces. If it really is only $100 to file a complaint then between 4 people that is $25. A meager amount for peace of mind.

    Obviously such action will upset some people and make others happy, but use me as an example. I spoke up on my own thoughts and it will be taken either way. Fine for me I am learning said my sorry’s and moving with more knowledge and wisdom than I would have gotten in always being right. A little humbler too. ;-) But this has gotten late.

    Thank you IED and again everyone else AboveLevel is becoming even more of a treasure trove site. I think I could just about look up anything here and find just what I am looking for concerning Morgans. Oh, and sorry again if I drive you guys nuts. Always learning!

  26. StacyGRS says:

    OK…first off, the purpose of the amatuer division is simply to divide those that get paid for their services from those that don’t. It has NOTHING to do with skill level…and shouldn’t, IMO. There are stellar amatuers in all worlds (Olympic gymnasts come to mind!)that are better than most pros, but that does not make them pros…it makes them stellar amatuers:) Skill level classes are your maiden/novice/limit rider classes. If you divide ama classes by skill then there is no reason to get better! Competition is supposed to make us progress in our skills.
    I see no reason to not allow trainers to re-apply for ama cards. There is a review committee and each case is most certainly looked at closely by them and there is a whole process. If the trainer has just recently quit training or still does some small amounts, they are not approved. They can apply later if they wish. I am not a fan of the “ringer amatuer” anymore than anyone else is,btw. However, I have no issue with good ama’s!! While my knowledge would not change, if I got a desk job and didn’t ride for a year or two and then put my horse in training with someone and rode it the way they trained it on a limited schedule, I assure you I would be very eligible for the ama classes:)So much of a trainer’s feel is simply time in the saddle…period. Hours upon hours where we have to ride and work horses while having other things run through our heads…it becomes instinctual. However, take a person out of the saddle and out of their training regimine and their instincts become alot less instinct and alot more difficult.
    I like nothing more than an ama rider who aspires to beat the best ama riders out there…better yet, one who aspires to beat the trainers too! That’s what it is all about…not limiting the skill which you want to show against. I am a better rider for showing against the many trainers that I continually put myself up against. They make me better. They make me work harder. I think the same is true of ama riders. The ones that go to the big shows and aspire to beat the big time people/horses will likely progress more than the ones that go to small shows and are the stars. What is that saying? Shoot for the moon, if you miss you’ll still land amoung the stars? I’ll take a 3rd in the open park saddle stake at OKC over a championship at a local show any day of the week:)
    Giving up my ama status was not a problem for me, but I knew by that time that I intended to do this professionally. And I have no problem with interns being able to show ama…they are learning the ropes and are not trainers…they should get time to do that, I think.
    Personally, I hate to continually see classes divided up more and more to give out more blue ribbons. A running joke around here is something that was said years ago on this topic…
    If you want to run in the Olympics and you are too slow to make the team, they don’t hold a ‘slow people’s race’ for those people…they tell you to train hard and RUN FASTER:)



  27. Scottfield03 says:

    So I am shifting a bit off topic here, but my soon-to-follow thought really is a derivative of this topic, and I don’t think would make much sense as a stand-alone post. So…

    Using Stacy’s Statement above as a jumping off point – (“…Personally, I hate to continually see classes divided up more and more to give out more blue ribbons. A running joke around here is something that was said years ago on this topic… If you want to run in the Olympics and you are too slow to make the team, they don’t hold a ’slow people’s race’ for those people…they tell you to train hard and RUN FASTER.”)

    Think about this for a minute:

    I was allowed to borrow some time back complete years of Morgan horse Magazines from the 70′s and 80′s. I wanted to study some of the horses and bloodlines that were popular then to see how they had become what they are today. In the process, I noticed something. Page after Page, ad after ad, people were proudly announcing that their horse finished fourth, fifth, and lower. Some ads would list a horse’s entire year worth of accomplishments, with nary a first or second place finish on it. But they advertised all the same. Which made me wonder, “Where along the way did the blue ribbon become the only one that mattered?”

    I agree wholeheartedly with Stacy. Do not divide these classes just to be able to give out more blue ribbons. Not only does it lessen the value of the blue ribbon, but it lessens the value of all of the ribbons.

    And that is part of my frustration with the breaking of the rules, whether it be a professional who is still showing as an ammy, or a classic horse with a 24 oz shoe. It just isn’t worth a blue ribbon to me to cheat. It’s cheating! No ribbon is worth my personal integrity. And how good does it feel to win if you know you haven’t done it honestly? I wouldn’t know.

    Looking through those old Morgan Horse Magazines, I was humbled by the pride these owners had in their horses. What a wonderful thing, to proudly advertise a 4th! Sure, 1st is better, but I can think of several classes where I got a different colored ribbon, and was happier with that finish than another class that perhaps I won. A 8th place ribbon from a 26 horse hunter Championship at New England is proudly displayed in my office.

    So, even though I think I might be the only one, you will see from time to time in our advertising, “Top 3,” or if it is a sweeps class, “Top 10.” I am sure it raises some eyebrows, but for me, the blue ribbon simply isn’t the only one that counts. And it certainly isn’t worth cheating to win it.

  28. StacyGRS says:

    I do believe that I had some of those top 10 ads…top 10 was big at one time. But, of course, there was no classic division (wher we first started to splinter off classes), there was no ladies ama, no ama. masters, etc. Making the equitation cuts at NE (yes…you had to MAKE the finals in the AMHA Medal class at NE! finalists were posted just like they are at OKC now) was big…really big. Then, to end in the top 10, you had beaten 30 or more other riders!)was an ultimate goal for many of us:)My top 10 ribbon, on a Morgan, in the Good Hands finals at Madison Square Garden (to the best of my knowledge, Ann Scussell and I are the only 2 to have gotten ribbons on Morgans)is probably my biggest SS eq accolade! Championship ribbons and coolers hang on the walls at my mom’s house, but that ugly orange and brown ribbon has always been my favorite!:)Certainly, numbers at alot of our shows have gone down, but we have ADDED classes as the numbers have decreased which has made so many classes very poorly filled. Most shows used to allow Jr riders to show ladies or ama if they wished, now most don’t. Out here almost every class has it’s own championship so the championships are no larger, or even different, than the classes that fed into them. And it all comes from people caring more about a blue ribbon that aspiring to beat a better rider or horse for the mere challenge of it.
    While I’m complaining, I’ll add that I really object to ads that advertise a horse winning in a one horse class!! UGH. On a RARE occasion, if a horse hasn’t shown previously and it only got to go in a 1 horse class, we’ll have to do an ad pre-OKC like that…it makes me nuts. Otherwise, most of the mag reps know I won’t advertise a win in a 1 horse class…it perpetuates the mindset that created this situation, I think.
    OK…now off to work:)

  29. StacyGRS says:

    btw…I generally don’t worry alot about the classic horse with the 24 oz shoe or the ama rider that may have crossed the line…they are all beatable and it makes it more fun when you do:)

  30. colwilrin says:


    This is the part that I don’t understand: As Ricky said “splain it to me Lucy!”

    “OK…first off, the purpose of the amatuer division is simply to divide those that get paid for their services from those that don’t. It has NOTHING to do with skill level…and shouldn’t, IMO” by Stacy

    If the intent of the USEF (AHSA) in establishing an amateur division was separate people solely based on payment, then why separate at all? The amateur and open divisions, when judged, have portions that are weighed differently in a judges mind. Aren’t Amateur horses to be more mannerly, open horses more challenging? Or is there no difference in what the judges look for between these divisions? I always assumed there was a difference and it was because the panel that designed the specs considered the pros more capable of handling an “open” horse, whereas the amateur needed a more mannered mount. If the only difference between amat. and pro is money, why would manners matter, or don’t they?

    I wholeheartedly agree with you that there are amateurs out there who are able to have rides as good, if not better than some pros. I also totally agree that every amateur should enjoy rising to the challenge of riding against someone more experienced and talented as it will improve them. Though I would still consider it a formidable challenge to see you out there in the warm up pen with me!

    A quick glance at the USEF Morgan section rules shows that in park saddle, amateur masters and ladies have manners listed prominently, whereas open doesn’t. The English pleasure has manners listed first in both Amateur and Open, but Amateur also includes “suitability” wherease Open doesn’t. What does this all mean? Suitable for someone who doesn’t make money with horses? What does source of income have to do with suitability? Maybe my answer is within this paragraph. With ladies and amateur grouped under the same specs…maybe there isn’t a difference after all…but then why divide it?

    As with any “law”…it gets a bit confusing the further away, temporally, we are from the inception of the rule. Maybe it just needs some clarification of terms.

    I guess my real questions is why the amateur division was originally created, and what the creators hoped to accomplish by separating riders by their source of income.

    BTW…thanks for the info on the panel regarding changing back. I had hoped that it was something that was examined on an individual basis and not just a blanket process.

    Alicia – I liked your comments on the ribbon advertising. I might be dating myself, but I was a Jr. Exhib back then. IMO: In the 1980′s it was not uncommon to have even Jr. Exhib EP classes with over 30 entries at a local and regional level. Many equitation and pleasure classes were split with a final. It was a thrill to just get a ribbon, and the advertising reflected the depth of the competition.

  31. empressive says:

    Colwilrin- Someday I think it would be fun to compete against you.

    You all must have had some guts entering a class of 30 back then. I am younger and can only dream of days like that. Still I think the money thing is a point, but I believe the class division originated from the performances of the horses.

    I mean when there is a good horse in a Classic, English, or Park division there is a little difference. The Classic horse is quieter while still retaining its fancy form. English is more extravagent and the hot level comes to mind. Park I see is more out of this world with horses whose feet defy western style logic. LOL (there is a story behind that one) and hot is a few thousand degrees.

    I think what it all boils down to is the difference between the Ammie rider and trainer. Not the horses when looking at classes. If classes should have much competition ranging from good and bad. Then the only difference can stem from money. I mean (and truly now) if you did not know that a few people in your Ammie class were taking money for their skills and one of them was really good would you toss them out just because they were good?

    If you did not toss them out then what difference is there? Call it deductive reasoning. Now that presumes against all rules but the only reason people question an Ammies legit is because of those rules. Kind of weird huh? Makes you really wonder the state of mind of the person who came up with those rules.

    Irregardless rules are rules we know of the rules in place and should enforce them. Because it is up to us. The judge is allowed no contact with individuals at shows and while stewards know a lot! They do not know everything. I do understand though that sometimes it is good to rant so you can pick up the pieces and sort latter. This is probably a good place just be careful of the consciences that come latter! LOL

  32. PrincessPrada says:

    “btw…I generally don’t worry alot about the classic horse with the 24 oz shoe or the ama rider that may have crossed the line…they are all beatable and it makes it more fun when you do:)

    I get what your saying, but just because they are beatable doesn’t mean that they aren’t putting themselves at an advantage. I mean, the rules are clear, there to keep the playing field as level as possible. I know you like the challenge, and admire that you do. But I find riding and showing to be challenging enough, wihtout having to beat the semi-pro rider on an over-shod classic horse. No way I am not at a disadvantage in that situation.

  33. morgansrule says:

    Here is an interesting take…I was a sparkle in someone’s eye during the heyday of the morgan show world, but I am wondering this. In draft horse showing, there is “farm” and “show” division. Essentially, the “show” classes are geared towards people who have stables and indoor arena’s and time to work the horses, professional equipment used only for showing. The “farm” classes are for regular people. People who can’t work their horses during thunderstorms, or in heavy snow. People who have other jobs and can’t focus all their time on their horses. People who’s harnesses and carts used in the show ring also hauled the neighbor’s kids yesterday. I wonder if originally the distinction between amatuer and professional had more to do with how the horse was generally prepared for the class, and the distinction of money assumed that if people paid you, you had the facilities and focus that amatuers did not. Things have gotten very cloudy since that time. Quite personally, I find the discussion almost moot, seeing as a high percentage of “amatuer” horses are schooled and prepared by a trainer and the only thing that allows the horse to be in the amatuer class is the person in the saddle. (aot excluded) I have been showing on the NE circuit for about 10 years, and have dabbled in training. I can tell you that taking money for training in no way gives you an advantage, in fact, it often puts more pressure on you and increases the choke factor!

  34. StacyGRS says:

    Well, as I mentioned, as a pro I do think I have an advantage in that I am in the saddle alot more than the average ama…so…it seems like that might be the line drawn. To divide by skill is nearly impossible…who is the judge? How often are you evaluated? too subjective. Hours in the saddle or years in the sport might work, but then someone is keeping track of such things. Seems like pro/ama is a reasonable solution as it is used in quite a few sports…Basketball/gymnastics, ice skating,etc. as it is easy to define (doesn’t mean all will follow the rules, but the definition is vcertainly easier than grading riders and catagorizing them!)and it does have an implied skill level that relates to hours spent.
    The ama classes are judged nearly as an open class is, except suitability is taken into consideration. I don’t think it means so much “suitable for an ama rider” as “suitable for THE ama rider…” IOW…it’s suitability to it’s own rider. If it looks like too much horse for that particular rider to handle, then it is not suitable and that is to be taken into consideration. Open classes don’t deal with suitability. Ladies classes are quite different, and, unfortunately I think that is often forgotten. A ladies horse requires manners to be of utmost importance. They should be light in the bridle, appear very willing and cooperative and IMO, a great ladies horse has elegance and prettiness more than the ultimate ama horse. An ama horse should be bold and aggressive…neither of those words should describe a ladies horse. Personally, I LOVE a great ladies horse…they have a quality and elegance that no others possess and are all show horse while being perfect ladies:) It’s become my favorite division as I have acquired appreciation for those that accel in it and been privledged to have a couple. It is NOT just a horse with a lady riding…it is a LADIE’S horse.
    And Jr Exb is even more manners based, IMO.

    As for the classic horse with the 24 oz shoe having an advantage, more is not always better and less is not always less. Generaly, the best classic horse dcoesn’t NEED the extra…those that cheat are trying to catch up to that one! Yes, I agree that cheating is lousy and I certainly don’t condone it, but, I also can’t control other’s actions and I am not going to let them spoil my experience nor am I going to spend my time filing complaints about little details that, in the long run, probably don’t make the difference.

    And, Colwinrin…a piece of advise…NEVER watch the others in the warm up ring!!:) I try me best to warm up elsewhere and not watch any of the others. I have to do my own job, not worry about how well others do theirs and watching is the one thing that can rattle me before I show. So, I don’t.

  35. StacyGRS says:

    BTW, PPRADA, don’t get me wrong…I don’t LIKE the challenge of beating a cheater, but since I can’t stop others from doing whatever they do and I don’t want to go around checking up on everyone, I have 2 options: 1) let it bother me and cloud my thoughts with negativity. 2) do my best to make their attempt to have an advantage a moot point and consider it a chance to better myself and try to make my horse better WITHOUT cheating. I choose the latter because I find the former unproductive and the latter actually makes me better.

  36. colwilrin says:

    Morgansrule, I think there is a lot of sense in the idea that the amateur division may have originally been formed to separate those in a similar way that “farm” and “show” are in the draft world.

    Looking back, I have had trainers at certain times and not during other periods. My motivation for using a trainer is two-pronged. First, to train a young horse that I am not able to. Second, to work horses where I don’t have time. Even if I had a dead broke horse, I can only ride twice a week. So, I would be at a disadvantage against those who are able to ride 7 days, and my horse not in condition to properly show.

    Maybe the original amateur division was more of an AOTS. I guess one would have to go back and look at the way people showed, and how they utilized training barns back then.

    Stacy, Good advice about the warm-up. Though it can make me nervous, I do enjoy riding against deep classes and tough competition. I always have better rides when I am pushed by others.

    Empressive, Thanks for the compliment. Those old Jr. Exhib days were crazy. We didn’t have guts as much as we lacked brains. Most of us were over mounted. There were wrecks at every show. In almost every class people would cut you off, squeeze by on the rail (when I hear “RAIL” from behind me, it still makes my flesh crawl), and would even hit your horse with their whip. It was survival of the fittest. On the up side, you learned to shoot holes, make quick decisions, and commit to whatever decision you made, right or wrong. You were happy to get ANY ribbon!

  37. Scottfield03 says:

    From what I am gathering from all of this fantastic discussion is that many of you share my feeling about rules– I don’t care so much how you divide Amateurs vs. Professionals (I can think of several from both camps that are more appopriately suited in skill towards the other :-)), and I don’t really care how much shoe a Classic horse should be allowed, etc. What I do care about is rules being followed, and even though the large majority of us follow rules because it is the right thing to do, there will always be those few individuals that are of the opinion that rules are meant to be broken. That is why we have to have rules that are 1) Able to be enforced and 2) People capable and willing to enforce them.

    I think that part of what makes the Ammy vs. Trainer debate fall a bit into the grey area is that it is a little hard to prove that someone is getting paid, especially if it is word of mouth that says they are getting paid at all.

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