Equestrian sports has a long and positive history of building character, responsibility, sportsmanship and teamwork in riders, both old and young. But as more and more horrifying stories of bullying and sexual misconduct in a wide variety of sports come out, from gymnastics to female sports reporters, United States Equestrian (USEF) has recently taken steps to help prevent this from becoming a part of the equestrian world.
Called Safe Sport, the USEF has joined with the U.S. Center for SafeSport, an independent nonprofit committed to ending all forms of abuse in sport. This includes bullying, harassment, hazing, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual misconduct and abuse. Among its adopted policies, US Equestrian members and participants have a mandatory duty to report suspected sexual misconduct to the U.S. Center for SafeSport. Effective January 1, 2019, all USEF adult members with a Competing Membership must complete USEF’s Safe Sport Training in order to be eligible to participate in USEF activities. Members can immediately access the free Safe Sport Training directly through your member dashboard.
The site also includes a parent's guide to misconduct in sport and is designed for the parents of athletes of all ages. This course explains the issues of misconduct in sport and helps parents ensure their children have a positive and safe sport experience. The USEF has also posted a listing of members who have been sanctioned or who have sanctions pending on their website.
October is also Anti-Bullying month. And while sexual misconduct is the most serious of the offenses covered by Safe Sport, it is also looking into allegations of emotional misconduct, physical misconduct, bullying, harassment and hazing. To check out what these terms mean as well as who may be responsible under the new rules, check out the Safe Sport Policy from the USEF. Feel free to take it to your barn manager or trainer or Pony Club/4H leader and have an open discussion on Safe Sport. The USEF has developed ways to report any issues as well as keep any information provided private - and retaliation will not be tolerated.
Remember, you are NEVER wrong to report any of the incidents mentioned that are directed against you or someone you know.
Photo credit: Equestrian Sports Productions