US Equestrian Discusses SafeSport Concerns at USEF Pony Finals

Lexington, Ky. — Aug. 20, 2018 —  During the 2018 USEF Pony Finals at the Kentucky Horse Park, a town council meeting was held open to all exhibitors, trainers and parents to discuss the issue of SafeSport. SafeSport has recently become increasingly prevalent in the equestrian community as several top trainers and athletes have recently been put under suspension. The event was held to encourage parents and trainers of young competitors to come together as well as to officially kick off US Equestrian’s new SafeSport awareness campaign #YouAreNotAlone.

With roughly 40 new open investigations in the equestrian industry since January, the need for an open discussion involving the details of Safe Sport and US Equestrian’s role has been imminent. US Equestrian’s CEO Bill Moroney and US Equestrian General Counsel Sonja Keating led the discussion which saw participants from varying aspects of the sport come together. Topics included reporting requirements as well as the role of US Equestrian in the SafeSport movement however much of the meeting centered on the general unease caused by the feeling of a “guilty until proven innocent” format. Below are several questions from concerned parents and trainers that attended the discussion and the responses given by US Equestrian.

Exhibitors, trainers and parents gathered at the 2018 USEF Pony Finals to discuss the SafeSport movement.

The way that accusations are being made now, it seems that those accused are guilty until proven innocent instead of the other way around, how do we fix that?

•Once an accusation is made, there is an initial investigation that proceeds, if the initial investigation brings back some form of evidence that the claim could be true, the person under investigation then immediately goes under temporary suspension. This temporary suspension is put in place to alleviate the risk of any more harm being done during the investigation period if the person is guilty.

How do we prevent these accusations from damaging someone’s reputation before they are confirmed?

•No exact answer to that problem currently. US Equestrian is no longer sending out suspension notifications to the membership however with social media it is almost impossible to keep the information out of the public.

How does the Position of Power rule come into play between consenting adults that are also trainer and student?

•Position of Power becomes an issue when one member is a selector, judge, team coach, or some type of authority that could affect the other member’s ability to participate in an event or on a team.

•For example: A USEF coach would be restricted from becoming sexually involved with a team member unless there was already a romantic relationship established before they moved into those respective positions.

How does the investigation process work for an anonymous report?

•It is extremely difficult to even do an initial investigation on an anonymous report because there is no evidence and no ability to reach out for evidence. The only way an anonymous accusation is ever confirmed is if another member of the community who does not wish to be anonymous steps forward and can either confirm the claim or provide details of their own experience.

To learn more about the USEF Safe Sport Policy, please click here or to learn about the U.S. Center for SafeSport and its commitment to end all forms of abuse in sport, please click here.

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