Many people don’t realize that the AOT/AOTS rules are different depending on what breed of horse you are showing. Arabian, Morgan and Saddlebred all have different rules in the USEF rulebook. For shows not governed by USEF, those organization can make up their own rules. The great disparity of rules found between breed and associations has led to a lot of confusion on what is and is not allowed, so I’m going to attempt to clarify things in this post.
First of all, let’s define “Owner” per USEF. This definition applies to all divisions with the word “owner” in the title, because the rule is located in the General Rules section.
2. Owners’ classes may be restricted to riders, drivers or handlers who are no longer eligible to compete as a junior exhibitor.
3. Combined ownership is not permitted in Owner’s or Amateur Owner’s classes unless all owners are members of the same family. Leased horses are not eligible. Exception: Paso Fino Division.
Breaking this down into simple terms, “Owner’s” classes are only open to amateurs and their family members, and leased horses cannot be shown in these classes. So if the horse you want to show is owned by anyone listed in the definition of “family,” you can show the horse in an AOT/AOTS class. If it’s owned by someone else – even if you are leasing it – it is not eligible.
Arabian/Half Arabian/Anglo Arabian
The USEF Arabian rules are the most strict when it comes to showing as an amateur/owner/trainer.
Horses are not to have been professionally trained and/or shown by a professional for a period of one year immediately prior to the competition (riding and driving instruction for the owner to be excluded). In addition, horses are not to be exhibited, prepared, groomed or schooled with the aid of or by a professional while on or off the competition grounds immediately before or during the competition.
Assistance by other amateurs is permitted. Horses may be stabled with a professional during the competition, and hauled by a professional. Professional help for situations relevant to safety is permitted. Owner must sign as owner, trainer, and rider/driver/handler on the USEF/AHA entry blank.
So let’s break down the more pertinent parts of the rule.
- Exhibitors, attendants and headers must be amateurs. This means you may not receive assistance in the ring or warm-up from a professional. Also, a pro cannot help you get the horse ready or work the horse in any way before or during the show.
- The horse must have been out of professional training for the 12 months prior to the show. This means if your show is August 12, 2015, the last day the horse could have been worked by a pro is August 12, 2014.
- You can stable with a pro and have them trailer your horse to a show.
What is not mentioned are lessons. It would appear to me that an AOT wishing to take lessons on their AOTS horse would be within the rules, as long as the lessons do not take place at a show.
The Morgan rules add a bit more clarity to the definition of “owner.” The above general definition still applies, but the Morgan rule further defines the “owner” around other types of registrations.
Essentially, if the horse you want to show is registered under a farm name or other type of non-personal name, you can show it in AOTS classes as long as your family is the sole owner of that entity.
Now let’s look at the class rules.
Similar to the Arabian rules, Morgan AOTS riders cannot be assisted at a show by a professional, nor can a pro groom, prepare, or work the horse. However, different from the Arabian rules, a Morgan must not have been in training with a pro during the current competition year, which begins on December 1. So for example, if your show is on August 12, 2015, your horse must have been out of training as of October 31, 2014.
The rule does not specifically forbid taking lessons on your AOTS horse with a professional; however, to remain within the rules, you cannot take lessons at a show.
There is not a section in the Saddlebred USEF rules specifically pertaining to AOT classes. However, some guidance may be found in rule SB145.2.
So in addition to the general rules defining “owner,” Saddlebred AOT horses must have been out of training for at least 3 months prior to a show. You can obtain assistance at shows from professionals, as long as they do not work or warm up your horse.
As always, when planning to attend a show, make sure you read and understand the rules that apply to that particular show. If it’s not a USEF show, but their rules state they follow USEF rules, then the above will apply to you. However, if the show has their own rules, be sure to request information pertaining to AOT/AOTS classes if that is the division you plan on entering.
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