After initially granting the World Equestrian Center—Ocala (Florida) four dates for the competition’s debut 2021 season, the U.S. Equestrian Federation has withdrawn those dates, opting to sanction none of the new facility’s competitions.
The World Equestrian Center, owned and run by Roby Roberts, originally requested 12 USEF-licensed dates to run the Ocala Winter Spectacular series from Jan. 5 to March 28, 2021, with $9 million in money and prizes. The shows were to run at the new facility, which is located about 11 miles from HITS Post Time Farm, where Tom Struzzieri’s HITS Horse Shows runs a long-established winter series.
Since these dates created a mileage conflict under USEF rules, WEC representatives applied for a mileage exemption, and the USEF approved four dates, two of which were premier rated. Those two—Jan. 13-17 and Jan. 20-24—were listed in advertisements sent out by WEC last week, and they also featured Fédération Equestre Internationale classes.
WEC management declined the regional USEF dates, and when they released the prize list, they announced the other 10 weeks of competition would be run by the National Snaffle Bit Association, an organization previously focused on pleasure horses and color breeds that has been sanctioning shows for 35 years.
But in response to the announcement that the NSBA would be sanctioning shows at WEC Ocala, USEF CEO Bill Moroney released a statement on Nov. 11 explaining that the USEF was withdrawing its competition licenses for the WEC Ocala shows. “NSBA is not an affiliate of USEF, and any NSBA events at the Ocala Winter Spectacular would be operated outside of USEF’s rules, including class specifications, field of play rules, scoring systems, and most importantly USEF rules protecting horse and human health and safety,” read Moroney’s statement.
Moroney also stated that the USEF would no longer be granting a license for WEC to run the FEI Jumping Nations Cup qualifier, though that change is pending approval from the FEI.
“We have notified the FEI that these events are unauthorized,” Moroney continued. “Presumably, the FEI will also decide whether it will apply its unsanctioned event rule which states that any FEI Official, FEI registered Athlete, or FEI registered Horse that participates in an unsanctioned event faces up to six months of ineligibility to participate in FEI competitions and thereby national competitions.”
Source The Chronicle of the Horse