Following US Equestrian’s new requirement for horses in hunter, jumper and equitation divisions to compete with microchips, riders competing in classes that require United States Hunter Jumper Association registration will now be required to receive microchips as well. The rule goes into effect November 1.
A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. It holds electronic data that can reliably verify a rider’s identity, whether for competition purposes or during emergencies like natural disasters. The microchip verifies the rider’s ID, which allows them to compete for points and prize money and to be eligible for certain US Equestrian and USHJA programs and awards. US Equestrian requires microchips to be ISO 11784/11785 compliant.
“This rule change will effectively end the debate that horse and rider athletes are not treated equally,” said Judy Law, head of the US Equestrian Equality in Sport Committee.
“We have heard your concerns and agree that just as riding is a level playing field for women and men, it follows suit that horses and riders be treated as equals in our sport,” she added. “The next step is finding physicians that will provide human microchipping services, and that list is forthcoming.”
This measure is the first of what athletes can expect will be a grand future of technological developments in horse sport. Perhaps most endearingly, this ruling was inspired by cinema.
“We had a film showing of I, Robot at the
USEF US Equestrian #twohearts #JointheJoy office which really made us feel inspired,” said US Equestrian Information Technology director, William Wallace Pendelton. “Having a tiny computer in your arm is safe, helps us better track our riders when they get lost on course, and is just pretty darn cool, if you think about it.”
The governing body says that the benefits of having both horses and riders microchipped are so vast, they haven’t even figured them out yet. But there is one identifiable up-side, and that is discipline division, says Judy Law.
“This serves many purposes, but I believe one of the most beneficial results of this will be the ability to know when jumper riders try to cross the border into the hunter ring,” Law explained. “We’ve grown weary of individuals that want to push boundaries and believe that their rhinestone-crusted helmets and bright show coats transcend the rules of tradition.”