Importantly, we thank you for membership in what is now the largest youth equestrian association in the Country. We could not have reached this milestone without the support of our wonderful young-riders, their families, friends, coaches, trainers, sponsors and our affiliate organizations. Our strategic plan never included the goal of being the largest youth equestrian group-we just wanted to provide an easy, cost-efficient and safe entry to our wonderful sport while gaining recognition for our riders as the athletes they are. It worked! In the 15 years since our founding, nearly 35,000 current members and alums have embraced the concept.
Despite this achievement, since IEA Hunt Seat Finals in April, there have been an extraordinary number of Facebook posts with negative comments about the IEA—including remarks relating to alleged safety issues and lack of responsiveness from IEA personnel. Unfortunately, a disgruntled observer chose to air grievances through spiteful and slanted posts. IEA recognizes that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, but prolific rants on social media only serve to stir hysteria among the uninformed, negate legitimacy, further inaccuracies and damage the Sport at all levels.
This is not the forum to rebut the comments made about the IEA on Facebook, but we underscore, as you all know, that rider safety is our highest priority (fun is second) and the IEA has safety policies and procedures that are regularly reviewed. We note, however, that when the IEA learns of alleged safety issues through social media and not through its established reporting and/or appeal procedures, it makes any issue, real or perceived, difficult to meaningfully address and can lead to uncertainty and confusion among the members of the IEA regarding the issue.
IEA staff, personnel, and volunteer leaders are always striving to make the organization better and are committed to improving each area of operations—especially safety-and yes, communications and responsiveness, as well!
IEA has the highest regard for quality competition as well as for the safety and well being of participants and horses. Feedback regarding the operation of IEA and the events hosted by our membership is always welcome if presented in accordance with applicable policies and procedures. As a reminder to our membership, details on how to present matters of concern, suggestions, or comments are outlined below.
IEA has a Social Media Policy, which is set out in the IEA Rulebook and encourages responsible use of social media. In part, the Policy provides as follows:
The IEA, like any organization, always strives to improve its operations so competitions remain among the best in equestrian sport. No matter the subject, every post must demonstrate proper intent and be written with good sportsmanship in mind. All comments should be crafted with appropriate tone and prose. Please note: Social media is not the forum for filing complaints or criticisms about IEA staff, rules, officials, or events. Serious concerns and recommendations for rule or policy changes should be expressed through procedures outlined in Rule 9000 of the IEA Rulebook. The IEA management attempts to communicate through all methods in a transparent manner, and social media is no exception.
It is worth noting that improper posts could lead to individual and/or team disciplinary actions (Rule 9502) and, in the case of libel, legal recourse.
Before setting out how matters should be presented to the IEA, a reminder regarding roles and responsibilities. First, Show Stewards serve to interpret the IEA Rules and Regulations. Their duties include, among other things, determining the suitability of rider to horse (tall or small), rider to class, and horse to class level and stopping a class in the event a horse or rider should be considered unsafe (Rule 6701). Second, it should be noted that while several teams may co-host a competition, one team must be the designated host. The duties of the coach of the host team include being the primary decision maker and ultimately responsible for running a safe and quality competition that complies with all IEA Rules and Regulations (Rule 4204.2). Third, the role of IEA is to promulgate Rules and Regulations and ensure a fair process for the airing of issues, which is described below in detail.
The specific procedures are set out in the 2016-2017 IEA Rules and Regulations of Membership beginning on Page 50 and are extracted below:
9303.1 Formal petitions, protests and appeals must be written by a coach member, steward or show official and submitted through the IEA Membership Secretary on the appropriate form. The Membership Secretary will immediately forward the petition, protest or appeal on to the Zone Administrator who will bring the matter before the Zone Ethics Committee. (emphasis added)
9303.2 Formal Petition – Any request submitted in writing to the Zone Administrator with respect to a particular cause, including a review of a decision made by a show steward. Petitions relating to events or decisions made at an IEA show must be submitted within ten (10) days of the pertaining show.
9303.3 Formal Protest – A notice of alleged violation must be in writing, submitted through the IEA Membership Secretary and addressed to the Zone Administrator within ten (10) days of discovery and must state the full name and address of the accused and the accuser and contain a complete and definitive statement of the acts which constitute the alleged violation. Precise details regarding a violation of the Rules are necessary.
9303.4 Appeal – Refer to Rule 9303.7.
9303.6 Notification of Verdict and Penalty
The verdict and penalty, if any, shall be set forth in writing by the chairman of the ZEC within seven (7) days of the determination, and sent by certified (or “Fed Ex”) mail or return receipt email to the defendant and the accuser. A copy shall also be sent to the Membership Secretary, National Steward and the President.
9304 Extraordinary Procedure
9304.1 In the event that the ZEC upon receipt of written charge determines 1) that the outcome of the hearing could affect eligibility for either a Regional, Zone or National Horse Show and 2) that a hearing upon the notice required cannot be held in sufficient time before such Regional, Zone or National Horse Show to ensure that only qualified riders or teams will be able to compete, the ZEC may on a two-thirds vote follow the extraordinary procedure herein.
9304.2 If the ZEC determines that the extraordinary procedure is necessary it shall follow all procedures outlined in Judicial Procedure except all communications shall be carried out as soon as possible by telephone.
9304.3 The date of the hearing must be no less than twenty-four (24) hours after notification.
Also, in addition to the formality of procedures outlined above, please note that ANYONE can submit an IEA Show Evaluation Form, also available on the IEA website.
IEA’s success is dependent on the teams, riders, coaches, and parents who participate with a cooperative spirit and enthusiastically support activities at the Regional, Zone, and National levels. Working closely with other leading national equine associations, IEA is committed to our mission to provide educational and competitive opportunities for middle and secondary school students. Many thanks to those who choose to help us in these worthy endeavors.