FAQ - Competitions

I am planning to show my Morgan this year; do I need an AMHA membership?

If you are showing at a USEF-rated Morgan show, the owner, rider, and trainer of the horse will need an AMHA membership. You will also want to contact the United States Equestrian Federation at: (859) 810-8733 or www.usef.org as you will be asked to hold a membership with them as well.

I need an official rulebook for showing. Where can I get one?

AMHA can furnish you with the Morgan Horse Judging Standards. This book will guide you through each of the disciplines Morgans are commonly shown, describing important characteristics, attire, position, and equipment for each. However, this book is devoid of the rules and regulations governed by the United States Equestrian Federation that may apply to the divisions described within the book. For an official USEF rulebook please contact the USEF directly at: (859) 810-8733 or www.usef.org. To view the Morgan Horse Judging Standards online please click here.

Where can I find information about Morgan shows in my region?

Dates, locations, contacts, and other pertinent information on various Morgan shows, including Regional Shows and the Grand National, are available by clicking on their links here.

Where do horse show rules come from?

Ever been to a horse show or looked through a rulebook and wondered, "Why isn't this a rule?", or, "What were they thinking when they passed that rule?" It is important to remember that the AMHA is not the governing body for horse show rules in any division, including the Morgan division. It's true, United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) is the organization that recognizes and rates horse shows and competitions, licenses judges, stewards and other officials, and approves, publishes, and enforces the rules of competition, among many other things.

Rule change proposals are made by USEF members just like you, who have taken an interest and followed a few simple steps. After a proposal is submitted (as outlined below), it is reviewed by the appropriate USEF committees. In the case of rules for the Morgan show division, the USEF Morgan Committee will review the proposal. Although this committee is established through AMHA, and logically comprises AMHA members (including AMHA Board members), this committee actually is accountable to the USEF.

Something that is unique to AMHA is the Rules Forum. Rules Forums were begun in 1983 as a way to educate, inform, and advise members of the Morgan community on the rules change process. They are informal forums held around the country, generally in conjunction with a horse show. Morgan Committee members can be found hosting forums at each of the ten AMHA Regional Horse Shows, the Grand National & World Championship Morgan Horse Show, and at other venues throughout the year. Forums give members a chance to learn about the current rule proposals and provide feedback that the committee will later take into consideration when making final recommendations to the USEF Board of Directors.

So, do you have a proposal for a rule that will affect the Morgan Division, and you are wondering how to get it submitted? Follow these easy steps and you will be on your way to taking an active role in the development and implementation of USEF rules!

Visit the USEF website at www.usef.org and visit the "Rules Changes" section to view the "Rule Change Brochure" or contact USEF at (859) 810-8733 to obtain a hard copy. This brochure will take you through the process step by step, including ideas on how to formulate your proposal to increase its chances of approval, and important deadlines.

Using the correct form that is available online or by calling the above number, you can submit your idea for a new rule or a revision directly to the USEF; however, USEF acknowledges that proposals submitted through the rules committees stand a better chance of approval. Be sure to review the most current rulebook to find the best section placement for your proposal. It is important that you type or print neatly on the form. Difficulty in reading your proposal may have negative effects on the intent of your submission.

Be sure to select the appropriate type of proposal you are making: choose "add" if this is a new rule or sub article number; choose "delete" if existing text is being deleted; choose "change to read" if a content change is being proposed for an existing rule, which could include either or both deletion or addition of text.

If you are proposing changes to existing language, strike through the words you propose to delete. Underline and type in bold the words you propose to be added.

Provide pertinent information on the form: member's name, USEF number, address, phone number, and e-mail address. Sign and date form. Submit the rule change proposal form to the AMHA office or to the Chair of the USEF Morgan Committee by January 15 of any given year. The Committee will review the proposal, present it at Rules Forums throughout the show season, and submit it to the USEF. If you have questions about this process, contact USEF.

When attending horse shows throughout the show season, be sure to find out if there is an USEF Rules Forum being offered and make it a point to attend. Every owner, trainer, breeder, and exhibitor has the responsibility to educate themselves about the rules that govern the sport in which they participate. Become familiar with the USEF Rule Book and become an active part of the rules change process.

USEF/AMHA Rules Timeline

The Morgan breed is one of only two breeds that solicit input from members for rule changes through member's forums. The USEF Morgan committee has put together a process for rule changes to help the committee ensure that all the rules forums get the same rules and the same information to consider. Following is a time line.

  1. The USEF Morgan committee must receive any rule change proposals that originate outside the committee by January 15. The committee goes over them individually and on conference calls and at a committee meeting at the annual Morgan convention. We need to be as certain as we can that they are written clearly and actually address the perceived problems.
  2. The list of rule change proposals for the forums is set by April 1. Each committee member gets a list of the same information and proposals and every forum goes over the same proposals. Forum moderators hold forums at all regional championship shows, the Grand National and any class A Morgan shows that request a forum. Forums can be held at other venues if we can arrange for a moderator; this is generally a member of the USEF rules committee. As the forums progress, moderators and the entire committee track questions, suggestions, problems, etc. that are raised during the year. It is amazing to see how helpful it is to hear from people all over the country as they often see problems that the committee missed in the original vetting process.
  3. The list of rule change proposals is posted on the www.morganhorse.com website on the Latest News page so that all members of AMHA have a chance to see what the list of rule change proposals is. This gives members an opportunity to go to a forum during the year to comment or to contact their regional board representative, their directors at large and the rules committee to express thoughts.
  4. Shortly before September 1, the USEF Morgan committee has a conference call to make sure that there are no significant problems with the rule change proposals that have arisen during the forums thus far. From time to time, it becomes apparent to the committee that a rule is not ready to move on to the next step and we will withdraw it to make changes and/or clarifications. An example of this would be the Trail Rule Proposal that was discussed in 2007. A list of good questions about a number of parts of the rule were raised across the country during forums and it became apparent to the committee that we needed to work with the proponent and other exhibitors involved in showing Morgan horses in trail to ensure that we had a better rule to discuss during the next year's (2008) cycle. It was withdrawn and a new proposal was submitted for 2008. Following the September call, USEF posts all rule change proposals for every breed and discipline on its website at www.usef.org. These are proposed rule changes and have not been adopted.
  5. The USEF Morgan committee meets at the Morgan Grand National after the forum there and puts together its final information.
  6. The AMHA board of directors, at its November Board meeting, goes over the rule change proposals that have gone through the forums and has an opportunity to discuss, question and vote on them.
  7. The USEF Morgan committee does a final vote on the rule change proposals after the November board meeting and well before the January USEF board meeting. The committee takes into consideration input from forums, the AMHA board, and membership. This is the final draft of rules to be submitted to the USEF Board of Directors for consideration.
  8. The USEF Morgan committee meets during the USEF board meeting to review all rule change proposals submitted through the USEF process that affect Morgans and votes to accept them or not. Because our Morgan horses compete in so many disciplines, we need to review a large number of non-Morgan rules from carriage to dressage to hunter/jumper to all the general USEF rules.
  9. The USEF Board of Directors votes to adopt or reject all rule change proposals submitted to it. Generally, the effective date for these will be 4/01/09 for the 2008 rule submissions.

The Morgan world has developed its own way of making, discussing and deciding on the USEF rules that govern our competitions but the USEF is the National Governing Body for Equestrian Sport in the United States as designated by the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act passed by the United States Congress. As such, it has its own responsibilities and process. The USEF process permits all USEF members to submit rule change proposals directly to USEF and these can deal with any member breed or discipline. It is very important to keep the rule making process open to everyone to be completely fair to all USEF members. The USEF Morgan committee is bound by this USEF rule and respects it. We try to achieve a balance by using the following process.

  1. USEF allows rules to be submitted directly to USEF until June 1. This date means that rules for the Morgans, which come in directly thru USEF after the January 15 date, do not have the opportunity to go through all of our forums. The Morgan world places a very high value on giving everyone the chance to comment and the conflict of dates makes this impossible for us.
  2. The USEF Morgan Committee has a policy of disapproving any rule change proposal that does not go through the forums.
  3. The USEF Board does not approve Morgan rules that the USEF Morgan Committee disapproves.
  4. The proponent is welcome to submit that same rule to the USEF Morgan committee prior to January 15 of the next year, in this case January 15 of 2009, so that it can go through the 2010 forums.

This sounds very long and complicated and it is. The intention is to be as open and transparent as possible in discussing and adopting or rejecting rules as we can be. There are USEF mandated exceptions to this process that are quite restricted. Clarifications in language or grammar to make a rule clearer are permitted during the year and are posted immediately after adoption by the USEF Executive Committee on the USEF website. Inadvertent omissions can be corrected also. Changes to rules that qualify under the USEF standard for Extraordinary Rules changes can also be made during the year; these pertain to horse/exhibitor safety and welfare. 4/8/08