The American Driving Society, Inc. put out a statement on June 11, 2019 that it has officially discontinued its affiliate status with the U.S. Equestrian Federation. In its statement ADS said, “After many months of concentrated effort, the Board of Directors of the ADS reached the conclusion that the ADS’s role as affiliate is no longer in the best interests of the vast majority of their membership.  Accordingly, the ADS Board of Directors voted unanimously not to renew their Affiliate Agreement.”

The ADS board and membership is made up of competitors of all levels, officials, organizers and volunteers. Many of its members do not compete in activities recognized by the USEF. The statement went on to say, “The Board believes that ADS resources are best focused tightly on the sport and on achieving the core mission which has been a part of the Society’s bylaws for many years. The amount of time and money required to serve the Affiliate relationship requirements and the related USEF agenda were simply beyond what was appropriate for the ADS to commit to for a small segment of the sport of carriage driving.” and concluded with, “The Board cannot in good conscience continue to devote the amount of human and financial resources required for an affiliation that does not adequately meet the needs of the ADS membership.”

This split came after months of negotiations between ADS and USEF. According to a press release from USEF on the same day, n January of 2017, USEF terminated its relationship with ADS “because that organization was unwilling to reach an agreement regarding its responsibilities as the Recognized Affiliate for the Driving discipline.” In May of 2017, ADS and USEF were able to reach an agreement on key issues including competition licensing, licensed officials, anti-doping efforts and a continued commitment to work together to grow the driving discipline. ADS was thus reinstated within USEF through the end of November 2018. At that point, negotiations began again.

The USEF statement said, “Unfortunately, after the initial Affiliate Agreement expired, and despite continued negotiating through repeated extensions of the Agreement, the two organizations could not come to an agreement and have agreed it is in the best interest of both organizations to part ways.  As the current Agreement is expired, this decision is effective immediately.”

ADS is not the only group to split from USEF this year. The American Endurance Ride Conference split in January of 2019.

USEF Chief Executive Officer Bill Moroney stated, “We recently met with ADS leadership and developed several proposals regarding competition licensing, licensed officials, alignment of rules and anti-doping for presentation to the ADS Board of Directors.  We are very disappointed that the ADS Board of Directors was unwilling to accept these proposals required to keep our environment safe and fair, despite USEF’s best efforts to be flexible regarding their Affiliate concerns. Ultimately, however, USEF cannot compromise on protecting our athletes, ensuring the welfare of our horses and maintaining the integrity of our sport.”

The USEF is currently in the process of replacing ADS with a new recognized affiliate for the sport of driving.

To read more on this subject, click the links below:

AERC Breaks from USEF – The Equiery, January 18, 2019

USEF and ADS Unable to Reach Agreement After Initial Affiliate Agreement Concludes – USEF, June 11, 2019

ADS Members Letter re Affiliate Agreement – ADS, June 11, 2019