With such a large number of National and International Equestrian Organisations, sometimes it can be extremely confusing over the regulatory structure and hierarchy. For example which body is responsible for which discipline, at what level of competition National or International do they regulate, and whether you need to be a member of a particular body to be able to compete or not.
Understanding the regulatory framework of Equestrian Organisations is key to knowing which Federation or Association you need to contact or be a member of. So to assist you in this process, we have compiled a chart explaining the regulatory structure of every British and American Equestrian Organisation and underneath a brief description of each group, what their regulatory duties are and in turn who they are regulated by, together with their contact details.
The FEI or Fédération Equestre Internationale was established in 1921 and is a non-profit organisation and the world governing body of all Equestrian Disciplines, jumping, Dressage, Para-Dressage, Eventing Driving, Para Driving, Endurance, and Vaulting. Their core business is Equestrian Sports at the International level from the FEI World Equestrian Games to Equestrian sports at the Olympics.
Each country has a National Federation that falls under the FEI umbrella and forms the General Assembly where decisions are made about general management and the future of the equestrian sport on a National Basis. The general assembly acts as the supreme and sovereign authority of the FEI. There are currently 136 countries with recognized National Federations. In Britain the National Federation is “British Equestrian” and in the United States of America it is “US Equestrian”
In Britain, there are 18 Equestrian Organisations recognised by British Equestrian and 19 recognized by US Equestrian in the USA.
For more information visit the FEI website.
British Equestrian was established in 1972 as the National governing body of Equestrian sport in Great Britain and is the National Federation representative for this country in respect of the International FEI. British Equestrian are responsible for 18 national member bodies representing the interests of horseriders in this country for every equestrian discipline and for distributing government, Sport UK, and Sport England funding to the relevant authorities. Horse Scotland is also aligned with British Equestrian.
For more information visit the British Equestrian website.
US Equestrian formerly known as The United States Equestrian Federation and established in 1917, acts as the National Governing Body for equestrian sports in the United States. The USEF recognizes 11 breeds and has 19 authorized Affiliate Associations, including representative associations for each of the eight FEI International disciplines.
For more information visit the US Equestrian website.
Founded in 1954 the ABRS+ for short, represents professional equestrian premises, livery yards, and riding schools. By law, all riding establishments must be licensed to operate their business, but in addition, the ABRS+ conducts its own approval scheme aimed at setting an even higher standard of care and attention to horses and riders. The ABRS+ plays a huge part in the representation of its members both within the equestrian industry and on a national level.
For more information visit ABRS+
British Carriage Driving is the equestrian organisations national body that represents the exciting sport of carriage driving, where a carriage is hitched to one, two, or four horses or ponies and each team competes in three rounds, Dressage, Marathon, and cone driving. The national body has been in operation since 1968 when HRH Prince Philip formulated the rules of the sport and their aim is to increase the quality and quantity of horse driving trials at all levels in the UK.
For more information on carriage driving visit the BritishCarriageDriving website.
Established in 1998 British dressage is the national body that moderates all affiliated dressage competitions and training in the United Kingdom. They are responsible for developing rules and policies that shape the sport of dressage. They also select the teams that will represent the country as part of team GBR, at all levels, senior, para, young rider, junior and pony levels.
Associated venues must meet minimum criteria and use British Dressage qualified judges to ensure marking consistency. Horse welfare is paramount and if you’re passionate about dressage they are available to help further your enjoyment and ensure the sport goes from strength to strength.
For more information on dressage visit the British Dressage Website.
Established in 1979, the British and Equestrian Trade Association known as BETA is the official body for equestrian manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, now recognised by Government and leading riding organisations.
They hold an annual trade Exhibition and help develop courses so that retailers become more knowledgeable about products and are responsible for the high-level safety standards now required in the riding hats and body protector sector. They represent trade on a number of bodies and committees.
For more information visit the Beta Website.
Originally formed in 1983 by Ann Sagar it became the official body for Vaulting in 1996 known as British Equestrian Vaulting or BEV for short.
Often described as Gymnastics or dance on horseback, vaulters can compete as individuals, pairs, or teams performing either compulsory exercises or freestyle exercises to music (similar to dressage) and is one of ten disciplines recognised at International Level by the FEI.
For more information visit British Vaulting.
British Eventing the National Governing Body for the sport of Eventing gained independence as a national body in 1997. Eventing combines the ultimate challenge of dressage, showjumping, and cross country. Anyone over the age of 10 is able to participate and there are class levels to suit all abilities right up to the Ultimate International competition of which Great Britain is currently the world champion.
Visit British Eventing for more information
The British Grooms Association or BGA for short is an association set up for people that work with horses. The BGA was established in 2007 by a number of former grooms, who identified that the sector needed a professional association to champion the role of grooms as industry professionals and provide support, advice, and education. They were formally accepted by the British Equestrian Federation in 2010 becoming the mouthpiece for grooms nationwide at the highest levels of equine sport.
Visit British Grooms for more details
British Horseball has been described as a cross between rugby, basketball, and quidditch on horseback. The British Horseball Association known as the BHA for short was formed in 1991 to promote the interests of Horseball clubs and University Teams as well as to produce a GB Team and compete at the International Level in the European and World Horseball Championships.
Visit British Horseball for more information
Formed in 1995 and now called British Reining the Association was set up at the UK Governing body for the sport of reining. Reining is a cross between dressage and western riding. Reining evolved from the athletic movements that Ranch horses make in everyday life, such as quickly changing direction, controlling on a loose rein, and coming to a quick stop.
The western discipline had full recognition from the FEI until 2020 when the discipline was ejected from the regulatory body.
For more information visit the British Reining Website
British Showjumping is the governing body that formulates the rules and codes of practice for anyone who competes in affiliated showjumping competitions. The governing body has to cater to all levels of ability, managing over 3000 shows each year, from the weekend 70cm course all the way up to International Level, and is one of the few sports, where men and women compete at an equal level.
As well as organising competitions, the governing body offers training and support to a wide range of membership levels with regional academies and a five-star training program run by accredited coaches.
For more details visit British Showjumping
Endurance GB is the UK’s governing body for endurance riding, also known as competitive long-distance riding. Endurance GB manages 23 groups nationwide, and hundreds of events that are geared up to cater to all levels of ability from local amateur events to top-class international competition.
In addition to local events, involving social and competitive rides from 5 miles up to 100 miles, the body is involved in a comprehensive training program and the sharing of information pertinent to the sport via seminars and meetings, as well as promoting member interests on a National and International level.
Visit the website of Endurance GB for more information.
The Mounted Games Association of Great Britain or MGAGB for short started life as a fun competition for children without the need to own an expensive show pony. The first mounted games championship was held in 1957 through the Pony Club, but once a child reached 14 they were no longer eligible to compete.
Fast forward to 1984 and the official formation of MGAGB with seven founder teams and no upper age limit for competition. The governing body organises a variety of games from pure speed to accuracy and I am sure everyone has watched enthralled when they compete at the Christmas London Horse Show.
The popularity of the games has spread right across the world and has led to the formation of the International Mounted Games Association and recognition by the FEI.
Visit The Mountain Games Website for more details.
The Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) is run to enrich the lives of over 25,000 disabled children and adults through not only riding but the therapeutic benefits of bringing people and horses together.
For many access to the RDA are their only way of getting physical exercise and improve core strength balance and coordination skills. The RDA is supported by over 18,000 volunteers and qualified coaches at over 450 centres over the UK.
For more details visit Riding for the Disabled
The British Horse Society or BHS for short was established in 1947 and has grown to become the UK’s largest and most dominant equestrian membership and charity organization. The simple goal of the BHS is protecting horses and supporting not only riders and owners but anyone who works in the equestrian sector.
Their world-class professional industry and internationally recognised qualifications help people from all walks of life and of all ages to pursue a career with horses. Some of the top coaches and riders have started their careers with training and qualifications from the BHS.
Visit BHS for more information
Founded in 1929, the Pony Club is an International Body devoted to young people under the age of 25 who are interested in Ponies and Pony riding. Originally for members who own or have access to a pony and the means to transport them, the Centre Membership Scheme was launched in 1998 for those without ponies who ride at riding school.
The Pony Club is now represented in 27 different countries around the world and educates members on horse care as well as training and horsemanship.
Visit the Pony Club website for more details.
The showing council was established in 2006 and is a unification of 20 independent showing bodies with formal recognition approved and awarded by the British Equestrian Federation in 2011. Although the Showing Council does not have absolute control over showing body members, it is working towards common policies in horse welfare, professional codes of conduct, showing ethics, and judging protocols that will be adopted by the member bodies who include.
American Quarter Horse Association – United Kingdom
British Driving Society (BDS) – Full Member
British Miniature Horse Society (BMHS) – Full Member
British Show Horse Association (BSHA)
British Show Pony Society (BSPS)
British Skewbald and Piebald Association (BSPA)
Coloured Horse and Pony Society (CHAPS)
Donkey Breed Society (DBS)
Haflinger Society of Great Britain (HSGB)
Icelandic Horse Society of Great Britain
Irish Draught Horse Society (IDHS-GB)
Miniature Horse Club of Great Britain (MHCGB)
National Pony Society (NPS)
Northern Counties Ponies Association
Shire Horse Society (SHS)
Side Saddle Association (SSA)
Sport Horse Breeding of Great Britain (SHB-GB)
UK Ponies & Horses (UKP&H)
United Saddlebred Association UK Ltd (USA-UK)
Veteran Horse Society (VHS)
For more details and information on the Showing Council visit the website.
The United Kingdom Polocrosse Association (UKPA) is the governing body of Polocrosse in the UK and was established in 1986. UKPA is committed to the operation and advancement of Polocrosse in this country.
Polocrosse can be played by anyone and is a combination of polo and lacrosse played around the world whilst riding horses or ponies, with teams of six (three members play alternative chukkas) playing up to eight eight-minute chukkas.
Visit the Polocrosse website for more details.
World Horse Welfare is an International Charity Organisation, whose mission is to help horses in need whatever their role or circumstances, working with horse owners, other charities, academia as well as the veterinary profession, sports bodies, law enforcement, and the government in the UK to improve welfare standards.
Visit Horse Welfare
HorseScotland is a Home Nation representative and National Organization for all equestrian sports activity in Scotland and is affiliated with the British Equestrian Federation.
Founded in 1998 Horsescotland’s mission is to increase the overall levels of equestrianism in Scotland and in partnership with SportScotland, help Scottish riders compete on the world stage, as well as support member bodies to develop higher levels of growth and participation.
For more information visit Horse Scotland
Almost a prerequisite equestrian sport in Germany, brought to the United States in the 1960s, Equestrian Vaulting is a growing US sport that combines dance and gymnastics on a horse that is moving. Over the years Equestrian Vaulting USA has maintained a lower injury rate than dressage, making the sport an extremely safe one. The EVUSA supports more than 141 clubs in the USA and was established to provide training, informational and educational material, as well as judge accreditation and sets the standard for competition.
Visit the website for more information.
The United States Dressage Federation was formed in 1973 from the two primary organizations responsible for dressage, the American Horse shows association and the United States Equestrian Team.
The USDF is currently responsible for 130 affiliated clubs operating across the united states. National Training levels 1 – 4 are governed by the USEF and International levels by the FEI. The USDF is Dedicated to education, recognition of achievement, and promotion of dressage.
For details on American Dressage visit the USDF
The United States Combined Training Association was established in 1959 and became The United States Eventing Association in 2001 after the FEI confirmed the name of the sport to be eventing.
The goal of the USEA is to promote the sport of eventing, through education, welfare, safety, and training. Over 250 events under the USEA umbrella are organized each year and there are more than 12500 members from Beginner Novices right the way through to the top International Levels.
Visit US Eventing for more information.
The United States Hunter Jumper Association is responsible for two equestrian sports, Hunter and Jumper or Showjumping. The Hunter sport originated from fox-hunting where a rider negotiated natural obstacles and this can be seen in the type of fences that are used in competitions. Hunter classes are judged not only on the ability to jump but the style and quality of movement.
Showjumping is also about jumping fences but is scored purely on the ability to clear the obstacle and to do it in the quickest possible time. The USHJA was established in 2003 and recognized by the USEF board of directors in 2004 as the body responsible for promoting the interest of both hunter and jumping sports.
Visit USHJ for more details
The United States Para-Equestrian Association (USPEA) was founded to support athletes with eligible physical impairments to compete in Para-Equestrian Disciplines which fell under the governance of the FEI. Para-Equestrian disciplines are now integrated into International Sports and the goal of the USPEA is to provide educational information, press advice, and competition opportunities for those eligible athletes.
Visit the USPEA for more details.
Activities of USA Reining have currently been suspended and the sport of reining was removed from the FEI portfolio of equestrian in 2020.
The ASCPS or American Connemara Pony Society is represented in all 50 states and divided into 10 regions of the United States. The Society is made up of people from all walks of life who have dedicated themselves to the Connemara breed of horse. The goal of the ACPS is to promote the breed at every opportunity and organize official registration, provide training and preserve the unique quality of the breed.
For more details on the ACPS visit the website.
The Hackney Horse Society has been around for over 100 years and is now formally recognized by the USEF. The AHHS exists to maintain a current registry of the Hackney Horse and to compile a studbook of the hackney or and hackney pony. The AHHS promotes the breed through competitions and exhibitions and informational and educational materials.
Visit the Hackney Society Website for more details.
The AMHA’s slogan is “The horse that chooses you” the most important trait of a Morgan Horse is their people-loving attitude.
American Morgan Horse Association’s mission is to advance the breed at every opportunity and offer exciting programs and services to its members, including a comprehensive registry and stud book and support in competitions at all equestrian disciplines.
Visit Morgan Horse for more details.
The American Road Horse & Pony Association or ARHPA for short was established to promote the training, competition, and exhibition of the “Roadster” horse or pony, sponsoring activities and events that generate interest in the Sport.
Roadster is a driving competition for horses and ponies where the horse and jockey appear in a two-wheeled cart or four-wheeled wagon derived from the historical use of certain horses hitched to light carts that traveled quickly from one place to another, often racing on ordinary dirt roads, hence the name.
Visit the ARHPA for more information.
The American Saddlebred is a breed of a high-stepping show horse, that competes in different showing classes, Five-Gaited, Three-Gaited, fine harness, and pleasure. American Saddlebreds come in almost all colors, ranging in height from 14 to 17 hands, and weigh 800-1,200 pounds.
The ASHBA’s goal is to protect and promote the breed through supporting members in competition, exhibition, education, and training and safeguard the purity of the breed through the registration of pedigrees and ownership.
Visit the American Saddlebred site for more information.
Arabian horses have long arching necks, high tail carriage, a finely chiseled head, and a famous floating trot are proud graceful creatures.
The Arabian Horse Association was established in 2003 combining both the Arabian Horse Registry of America and the International Arabian Horse Association to create an organization of like-minded Arabian horse enthusiasts. The AHA has over 16000 members and a registry of over 1 million Arabian horses. AHA seeks to meet the breeding, competitive and recreational interests of all Arabian horse owners.
Visit Arabian Horses for more details.
The International Andalusian & Lusitano Horse Association was established in 1995 to promote the interests of Andalusian, Lusitano, and half-bred horses, providing a DNA-verified registry and studbook of purebred and half-bred breeds, developing rules to protect owners and breeders ensuring the correct identity of the horse, as well as providing an accurate pedigree and value. The IALHA has created a community of enthusiasts, as well as authorized showing classes and horse shows, culminating in the IALHA National Championships.
Visit the website for more details.
The International Friesian Show Horse Association is dedicated to promoting, showing, and exhibiting the Friesian horse and its derivatives. Formed in 2001 and recognised in 2004 by the USEF, the IFSHA’s goal is to connect with every horse of Friesian blood and preserve their authentic heritage.
The IFSHA, helps establish showing rules and provides education and mentorship as well as youth programs, culminating in an annual Grand National Competition.
Visit the Friesian Horse Website for more details.
The National Show Horse Registry was established in 1981 to coordinate the promotion, showing, and breeding of the National Show horse.
The NSHR sanctions affiliated horse shows around the country as well as annual National Finals competitions and maintains the highest levels of judging expertise by means of accreditation, education, and review.
The NSHR maintains breed standards that all Show Horses must conform to briefly a horse that is athletic and which retains size and refinement and maintain a registry of NSHR nominated stallions. Originally a combination of Arabian and American Saddlebred breeds the registry now accepts a combination of any other breed as long as the offspring possess a minimum of 50% Arabian Blood.
Visit the NSH Registry for more information.
The Paso Fino Horse derives from Spain and possesses a unique smooth rhythmic gait standing between 13 to 15.2 hands with 13.3 to 14.2 being the most typical size. Weight is 700 to 1000 pounds. Full size may not be attained until the fifth year.
Formed in 1972 the Paso Fino Horse Association is the purest registry of Paso Fino Horses and its mission is to protect and promote the interest of the Paso Fino Horse and the integrity of the registry.
The PFHA advances sound breeding practices with over 60,000 registered horses and holds training clinics, and competitions as well as producing a Paso Fino horse world magazine.
For more details visit the PFHA.
The Welsh breed of pony can be split into four distinct types divided by height and pedigree and as the name suggest originates from the welsh mountains of Wales. The Welsh pony and cob society was founded in 1901 in Wales and all Welsh ponies in the United States are descended directly from those animals registered with the UK society.
The Welsh Pony and Cob Society of America or WPCSA for short have over 45,000 ponies and cobs registered on their books and serve to maintain a registry for the recording of pedigrees and transfers of Welsh ponies and cobs, to promote the breeding and use of the breed, while striving to maintain its purity and trueness to type and to further its welfare in every way.
Welsh Ponies and Cobs compete in nearly every discipline, including hunters, pleasure driving, dressage, eventing, combined driving, heavy harness, and English and Western pleasure.
Visit the WPCSA for more information.
The Western Dressage Association of America was established to promote the horse as a living symbol of the American West and celebrate the area as the beautiful and legendary place where it all began.
The WDAA is a meld of training methods from Classical Dressage and Western horsemanship practices on the ranches of the American West since the early 1700s.
The WDAA goal is through the advances in training, laying down of rules, and furthering horse welfare to build an equine community combining Western Traditions with classical dressage.
Visit the Western Dressage Association Website for more information.