US Equestrian Federation Makes Unprecedented Move for Government Coronavirus Loan to Help Cover Wages, Other Critical Costs

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US Equestrian Federation office building opened last November at the Kentucky Horse Park.

April 16, 2020

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

The U.S. Equestrian Federation has applied for a loan under the federal government’s stimulus program designed to help cover wages and other critical costs during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic that has halted horse shows and most equestrian activities for the past month.

Freezing of virtually all horse sports since mid-March led the USEF to seek government financial support for what is believed to be the first time since founding more than a century ago.

The loans of up to $10 million that can be partially forgiven come under the $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and available to businesses defined as small with 500 or fewer employees.

The U.S. federation is a non-profit organization with about 150 employees based at the Kentucky Horse Park.

The three Olympic sports of dressage, eventing and jumping are included in the 11 breeds, 18 disciplines and 20 affiliates under the USEF umbrella.

As of the end of 2019, the USEF had 187,000 members and 100,000 so-called “fan” members. About 81,000 horses competed in more than 2,300 events in the U.S. last year.

Total annual budget for the federation is about $32 million.

All USEF-owned events, selection trials, training camps, clinics and other activities were suspended on Mar. 16 that currently runs through May 3.

As in other Olympic and championship years, significant costs had already been incurred preparing for the Tokyo Games for which the U.S. has qualified teams for the three disciplines. Postponement of the Olympics for a year will add to the costs.

Other American national governing bodies of sports are also reported to have applied for loans under the federal program.

The U.S. has no government sports agency as in many countries, with funding provided primarily by private donations, corporate sponsorships, member and service fees.

Award of funds from the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee to its members such as the USEF is also expected to be impacted by the postponement of the Tokyo Games.