Handle? I can’t Handle.

Have you read your emails from USHJA lately? The annual meeting is fast approaching, I have no doubt it will be a lively one, (it has been a rough year) and there will be heavy discussion, I can almost guarantee it.

One rule change proposal addresses Hunter Breeding, a struggling division at best, as we all are hearing day in and day out.

The rule suggests enforcing a One Handler to One Horse/Pony per class per show. Have you ever heard of anything more ridiculous? This is actually being proposed?!


If this doesn’t bother you it should….

Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 8.33.55 AM.png

I get to ride multiple horses in the hunters. You do, too. Jumper classes as well. Kent Farrington became number 1 in the world with multiple rides. Multiple rides for a professional is not unusual. It is called business and being a top jockey.

I get to watch Scott Stewart ride multiple horses in classes at shows.

I get to watch an open gate for ten minute because of multiple rides for a professional in a class.

I have had the classes stay open so that I may show all six of my horses in a class.


What is next? One horse per rider for every other class offered at a horse show? How’s that going to go over?

Who is going to walk up to Scott and say sorry, pick your favorite one, you can only ride one today in the Pre-Green Incentive Finals. Or sorry, Liza Towell, you can only ride one horse in the Derby Finals. We just feel your owners should do a better job of delegating to different jockeys……

uhhhhhhhh, my head just exploded with the thought of this.

Who can jog a horse for Scott Stewart when he is only one person? A groom? Do you think the groom should have a USEF number to jog a horse? Is that a serious question?

I am not offended by a non-USEF member jogging a horse back in the ring to check for soundness.

Do the two relate?

Yes they do. I can understand why one handler will want to show all of his or her horses in the appropriate classes, then hand the horse to a groom or helper to hold for a final pinning. It is called horse showing.

Is this a personal thing? For me? no. For the perception of sport? Yes. I am seeing something like a personal attack on a specific handler who wins too much. Or has too many rides. Get over it. Some people are better than you. Sometimes I win more than you, sometimes I don’t. But now you want to make a rule for me to keep me from doing my job?

If this proposal goes through, we are finished with hope. I will give up. I can’t look at this happening and think this association will survive. I hope it is no longer even a discussion by the time I get to San Antonio.

Instead of placing more restrictions on a struggling division, try leniency for a change. Try introducing proposals for reducing costs for Hunter Breeding.  Try answering the breeder’s pleas for help. Try offering more prize money. Try a mentorship program. TRY ANYTHING to help breeders get a stronger foot hold in this country.


Look at the sport for what it is – our future. Placing strangle holds on exhibitors because they win too much is not a philosophy which should be supported by the USHJA. Don’t like the fact that Heritage Farm produces top winners year in and year out? What are you going to propose? A rule which says they can only bring one equitation horse to a Final?

If the Devon horse show would like to restrict handlers from having more than one horse in a division, that is their right as a horse show to keep everything moving along. We have also seen special Grand Prix classes limited to one horse per rider. But that is a decision made by horse show management, not a rule put forward to the USEF.

I hope all of our members read through the rule change proposals. Because if sweeping changes across the board are going to start with the Hunter Breeding classes, we could be in for a helluva ride.




8 thoughts on “Handle? I can’t Handle.

  1. The rule pertains to the “halter” class. I have never seen a handler hand the horse off to stand up others in an in hand class. If this has happened at the big shows, please enlighten me. I don’t see having professional riders limited to riding just one horse in a class, ever. BTW, I can not jog a junior rider’s horse (multiple rides) as an amateur, so they have to hunt up a junior to jog for soundness.


  2. Hold Hard!!!! Tell Me when Scott has ridden more than 1 horse in a hack class? Or has jogged more than 1 horse in the soundness jog? When have You ever seen Kent or anyone ride more than 1 horse in the ring at the same time!!!! There are many professionals that show in the Breeding classes, if 1 person has more than 1 in a class they enlist another handler! That is how it has been done for more years than I can count!!!!!! People should be more concerned about the welfare of these babies!! Only one person comes to mind that would not like this rule, and that person should be investigated!!!! Between law suits and God knows how many dead horses are in holes!!!! Many of Us are sick of the trouble this person causes at Horse Shows!


    • As inappropriate as some of your comments are, they do support the author’s theory that this proposal is about more than horse welfare. Without evidence, such accusations only intend to harm and destroy-a vendetta.
      You can’t believe everything you read on the Internet, and you certainly shouldn’t believe everything someone with an agenda whispers in your ear.


  3. This is a completely ridiculous rule and Steve Hayes, you better be careful about your accusations. Everyone knows who you are talking about, and what side you come down on. This is a petty rule change brought about by jealousy and personal feuds. Get over it.


  4. Dear Deloise, thank you for this article and bringing this subject to everyones attention. My household would not have known about this until you posted this article. While I respect your view, I must mention a different view point. It is really difficult to compare riding a horse in a class with hunter breeding. It is not apples to apples. When you ride in the class, you and your partner are by yourselves in the ring accept for the hack. If we were to make this comparison closer to what you are trying to point out, lets use the hack class so their is a large group in the performance division. I have never seen Kent Farrington or Scott Stewart( ride multiple horses in the hack) They never jump off a horse and have the class wait for them to mount another horse and continue to show it. It has never happened and never would be allowed. That and the Hunter conformation class or Pony class would be another class/division that would be somewhat similar or the closest you could get to comparing it. When the horses/ponies jog for soundness Scott Stewart would not stop the jog and say excuse me, someone hold this horse, I have to jog another one of my rides in. The pro rider will naturally pick the horse to jog back in who performed on top…… the one that is most likely going to win by how it placed over fences. Still it is not an exact comparison, but it really is the closet you can come to making this argument similar or close. I know you feel they relate, but they really dont. One handler, and mind you so far only one, has made it clear that they dont see an issue with it because they have so many horses to show. Historically this division has not been presented to the judge in these classes in this manner. Performance Sporthorse Breeding classes however do present their youngsters in that manner, but they are brought into the ring one at a time for safety purposes for the young horse, the handler, and the judge. Unfortunately the hunter breeding classes were never presented in that manner. The personal attacks you are seeing on a specific handler sadly are self induced and its interesting because it really isnt personal at all. It is about protecting the young horses, everyone in the class, and preserving the presentation and professionalism of the hunter breeding division. It isnt about people disliking the winner at all, I think their are alot of missing pieces to the dislike part, which actually isnt related to the breeding class itself at all and who wins or loses. The handlers that have been doing this for a long time love it when someone else becomes leading handler and often cheer each other on. It really is one big family. So like someone else said, dont always believe what is whispered in your ear. That goes for both sides if you can actual absorb that and try and process their are always two sides. This rule should be enforced to protect the young horses for their safety first in the ring, second to protect the handlers who are at the end of the line of these young unpredictable at times young horses, and the judge who is walking around them. Another point is the client and the professional way they are treated and respected. From a handlers standpoint, most handlers want to do the best for their client and represent that youngster and client the best they can in the ring. The last thing they want to do is pass one horse for another and at the end of they day when the judge comes for a second look, they want to keep working on that horse and have it standing up correctly hoping if it isnt a winner that it will be moved up. If you holding multiple horses, how do you do right by the client? You cant…..you simply cant because you arent holding one of them for sure. Their are many good points to be made about why that rule should be enforced, and if it has to be corrected to be the way it was intended, then I am for the correction and or clarification. This was never a problem until a protest was filed. I have been in this for over 30 years and my spouse well…….he is now 63 and has been doing this since he was 18. I am sorry but we really do have to disagree with your article, again however we respect your view. Thank you for seeing the other side to this and how the young horses safety is first, and the client should always feel you are doing the best you can for their horse in the class at that time. Hunter breeding will not die over this rule clarification, it has always been one horse/one handler anyway until this past summer.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s