How Congress Impacts Horse Showing

If you are competing in a horse show this weekend, you might not realize it, but decisions made in Washington, D.C. impact you and your ability to show your horse. The American Horse Council (AHC) believes it is important everyone involved in showing horses at any level or in any discipline understands that federal legislation and regulations affect them.

A notable example of federal policy directly impacting horse shows is the amount of funding the USDA receives to prepare for and respond to contagious equine disease outbreaks. Contagious diseases are a major concern for every segment of the horse community, but they can really negatively affect horse shows.

"Remember the recent equine herpes outbreak at a reining event in Ogden, Utah," said AHC Director of Health and Regulatory Affairs Dudley Hoskins. "State and federal vets and organizations responded quickly to the outbreak. Even with quick action, horse shows and events were canceled in 36 states and it could have been worse.

"That incident was the most recent reminder that there is not a comprehensive federal plan, sufficient funding, or personnel to deal with contagious equine disease outbreaks," Hoskins continued. "The AHC is working to change that and make sure USDA has the resources it needs to safeguard the horse industry."

Federal policy also impacts competitors and horse shows in numerous other ways. For example, many trainers, barns, and breeders depend on temporary foreign workers for grooms and farm hands and need the H-2B (non-agricultural) and H-2A (agricultural) foreign worker programs to work efficiently.

"Many people who participate in horse shows don't understand how important foreign guest workers are to the showing community." said AHC President Jay Hickey. "Without these workers, who often have years of experience caring for horses, there would be a major shortage of skilled labor in the showing industry. Unfortunately, right now we are fighting new H-2B rules that could make the program too difficult and expensive to use."

Additionally, quarantine regulations impact equestrians who compete internationally. In January, the AHC requested the USDA allow U.S. horses to travel to CEM-affected regions for up to 90 days before more burdensome re-entry requirements kick in; currently it is 60 days.

"Making this change would reduce the stress on U.S. competition horses, reduce the expenses for owners, and provide a more level playing field against our international competitors without increasing the risk of future incursions of CEM," said Hoskins.

The AHC encourages members of the horse show community to visit its website at to learn how federal legislation and regulations impact them.

"Everyday we are here in Washington talking to Congress and the regulators to make sure they are aware of the concerns and needs of the $ 102 billion horse community," said Hickey. "This is the only way to make sure equestrians will continue to have the ability to compete in their chosen equine discipline now and in the future."

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