With 56 items on the agenda for the annual August meeting of the Board of Governors it was a packed two days full of discussion and decision making. The USEA Board of Governors is made of 21 elected members representing all 10 USEA Areas as well as all sectors of eventers from organizers to owners, amateur riders to professionals, veterinarians to volunteers. Led by the President, Carol Kozlowski, the Board represents the USEA membership as a whole.
Rob Burk, USEA CEO, gave a report on the Association showing trends as well as a headquarters status update. USEA membership is up almost 1,000 members (approximately 13,000 annual members) in the last decade and the new autorenewal system is helping to retain members. Horse registration is also at a high with over 4,400 new horses registered in 2017. Even with these positives, 2018 is proving a tough year with event cancellations.
A large portion of the first day was dedicated to discussing the USEA budget as the Association is forecasted to have a $70,000 deficit in 2018. The main culprit for the deficit is starters being down 7.5% compared to last year due to 25 events being cancelled because of either weather or as a permanent decision from the organizers. If an event cancels because of weather the competition has the option keep the entry fee, but the USEA doesn’t receive the $21 starter fee unless the competitor actually trots down centerline.
While USEA membership is up, the members aren’t competing as frequently as was anticipated given the growth in starters in recent years. The USEA staff has been working diligently to reduce operating costs, but some significant changes will have to be made to balance the 2019 budget.
The Board did approve the use of the $44,858 which was raised in 2017 as part of the Equine Medical Research Fund program. The USEA will be fully funding a study at the University of Tennessee about equine asthma and will be teaming up with the Morris Animal Foundation to fund studies at the University of Minnesota (diet and insulin in horses at risk for laminitis), North Carolina State University (improving stem cell treatment), and another study at North Carolina State University related to joint infections. The USEA continues to lead the way as the only equestrian sports organization to contribute to equine medical research annually.
One staple on the agenda of each meeting is the approval of late calendar requests. The Board approved the following:
Several rule changes were discussed and the board decided to support the following proposals which will now go on to the Eventing Sport Committee and USEF for further discussion
The Board did not support a proposal to allow for horses entered in recognized competitions to be schooled on competition grounds by riders other than those registered to compete those horses.
Recognizing strong differences in opinion as well as a large portion of the members with no preference, the Board took no position on a proposal to allow mules to compete at recognized competitions. The rule proposal has already been submitted to the USEF by a private sponsor for further discussion and a final decision.
The Board voted on the location of the 2020 USEA Annual Meeting and Convention. It will be in Albuquerque, New Mexico from December 10-13. They also discussed and approved a new licensing requirement template for officials in order to make the process more streamlined.
On the second day of the meeting, policies were discussed in regards to background checks and SafeSport Policies. The USEA is working with the USEF as well as lawyers to put a concrete policy in place in order to make USEA recognized events and registered educational activities safe for all participants.
A presentation was also given about the USEA’s Event Management System (EMS) which is in the design phase. The EMS will incorporate a lot of innovative features that will create a seamless process from entry to notifications to results for both the competitor and organizer. The EMS is still in its early days, but much was discussed about price structure as well as the important benefits to USEA members.
Stay tuned in the following weeks for several important decisions that will be announced!