Can an adult amateur equestrian be a brand ambassador? The short answer is yes and no.
This age-old question can ruffle some feathers and you may hear many different opinions about adult amateur equestrians (as defined by US Equestrian) and being a brand ambassador.
I've decided to go straight to the horse's mouth for some answers. I spoke with Emily Pratt, director of regulations at US Equestrian.
WHAT IS AN AMBASSADOR?
First, we need to define what an ambassador is. Many companies and brands will develop programs that utilize equestrians that have a large social media following, embody the brand's ideals and whom they expect to help sell their product and expand their audience. The ambassador, in many cases, will receive a discount code that they share to their followers whenever they post on social media which provides a percentage off of their order. When used, these codes accumulate points in form of dollars which then will allow the ambassador to get free and or discounted product.
Now, if the ambassador is an amateur, this would inherently seem to violate the ambassador's amateur status. But...here's what the rules are.
An Amateur is defined as:
Regardless of one’s equestrian skills and/or accomplishments, a person is an amateur if after his 18th birthday, as defined in GR101, he has not engaged in any of the activities identified in paragraph 4 below.
Paragraph 4 is in regards to 'Professional based on one’s own activities.'
Unless expressly permitted above, a person is a professional if after his 18th birthday he does any of the following:
Many times people forget or pass over this part of the rules – paragraph 5: Professional based on one’s own activity along with another.
A person is also deemed a professional after his 18th birthday, if he accepts remuneration for his spouse, family member, or cohabitant engaging in any activity enumerated in 4 a-l above.
Keep in mind many of these rules state accepts remuneration AND (insert activity here). So both must apply to you.
But what exactly is remuneration?
Remuneration is defined as compensation or payment in any form such as cash, goods, sponsorships, discounts or services; reimbursement of any expenses; trade or in-kind exchange of goods or services such as board or training.
*For ease in explaining, below I refer to remuneration as 'getting paid.'
WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?
So here's the Reader's Digest version:
As an amateur you CANNOT:
But what if your spouse is a professional or trainer?
You can co-own a horse with your spouse and ride it in the amateur divisions. You can even ride and show a horse owned by your spouse. But you cannot at any time, competition or otherwise, ride a horse that is owned by a client of your trainer/professional spouse.
AMATEUR RULE CHANGE PROPOSALS
There are currently two different rule change proposals regarding this portion of the amateur/professional rules. The rule change proposals can be found on the USEF website and are listed as 012-20 and 031-20.
"The proposals are very different in that one is attempting to deem a social media influencer as a professional and the other is opening the door to allow amateurs to do more in this area. The Board will review these proposals at the USEF Annual Meeting in January, 2021."
- Emily Pratt, USEF director of regulations
OVERVIEW – Know the Rules!
It is important to review and stay up to date on the amateur/professional rules. If your horse related activities change you are welcome to contact the USEF at firstname.lastname@example.org and they can provide guidance on the best ways to move forward.