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Sat, 2011-12-10 00:00

USEA Annual Meeting & Convention: Saturday Report

Authored By: USEA


A big chunk of Saturday at the USEA Annual Meeting and Convention was dedicated to the USEA Annual Meeting of Members as well as the address of the Keynote Speaker, Clayton Fredericks. Fantastic educational seminars including: Navigating Through the World of Joint Treatments Sponsored by Adequan, Colic: The Deadly Killer Sponsored by SUCCEED, Success Factor: The Influence of Tack on Biomechanics Sponsored by World Equestrian Brands gave Convention goers a chance to learn a lot about a variety of topics and stay tuned for audio and video from these seminars so you too can learn! Below are some reports on meetings and forums that happened today:

Adult Rider Forum

Adult Rider Committee Chair Cindy DePorter led the lively Adult Rider Forum early Saturday morning.  After the Area Coordinators introduced themselves, the discussion turned to the Adult Team Challenge.  Beginner Novice is the lowest supported ATC division despite the outspoken opinion that it the level should be offered at the adult team championships.  It has also been proposed to incorporate an adult team competition at the American Eventing Championships.  However, there is concern that would interfere with the Adult Team Challenge competitions that have long been supported by the Chronicle of the Horse.  Potential venues for the various ATC competitions across the country were discussed and voted upon by Area Coordinators.  

Where Do Your Entry Fees Go

Although this seminar was intended to educated riders, the overwhelming majority of attendants were show organizers.  Margie Molloy and Ken Sexton put together a collection of data showing the average cost of a horse trial and discussed an organizer’s timeline leading up to an event.

One obvious expense is the land.  Whether the land is bought, borrowed, or leased, the expense is automatic.  Course designers must be hired to design and build courses.  Courses at Preliminary level and up are more expensive.  The average calculated cost was $1,500 per fence including materials, labor cost, and decorations.  This does not include maintaining the footing.  Start-up costs are expensive as well.  Examples include heavy machinery, permits, arena courts, and show jumps.  Barns or pads for temporary stabling must be constructed along with booths, shade structures, and control towers.

3-12 months prior to a competition, the USEA and USEF licensing fees are purchased and the omnibus listing finalized.  The course design and construction is begun, permits are required, and contracts are signed for show secretaries, vendors, caterers.  Each of these examples has potential for an immediate payment to be made.  Officials must also be hired during this time.  Officials charge a day fee ranging from an estimated $250-$500 a day.  Travel expenses, housing, rental cars, airport parking, and meals are also covered by the competition organizer.  The average approximate cost per official comes to $2,500.  

3-6 months prior to a competition, office supplies and technologies must be stocked or arranged.  This is includes but is not limited to computers, printers, credit card terminals, radios, timers, PA systems, speakers, and, of course, porta-johns.  Medical support must be arranged and is another necessary expense.  The costs for medical support have changed over time and it can be difficult finding providers due to increased liability and rising insurance costs.  An Advanced Life Support Unit may cost $1,000/day and am EMT/Paramedic team may come to $250-400/day.
1-3 months before the show, volunteers are scheduled and final preparations are made.

Margie and Ken concluded that the average cost of a horse trial under the scenario used (the approximate average), is $36,065.  An organizer’s cost per rider is $235 not including stabling, equipment, facility fees, utilities, repairs, and maintenance.

What can you do to help lower costs thus lowering entry fees?  Encourage sponsorship, volunteer, encourage your vet, farrier, trainer, and friends to donate or discount their time at an event.  Most importantly, send entries in before the closing date so the organizer has a firmer grip on the costs of the event ahead of time and is less likely to be forced to make last minute, expensive arrangements.

Margie stressed that the competitor is the customer, and organizers want the customer to have the best possible experience.

Concussion Prevention, Treament and Return to Competition: New Thoughts

Speaker: Dr. Allen K. Sills of the Vanderbilt University Sport Concussion Center started of the morning with a presentation about one of the hot topics of the Convention, concussions. He started his presentation with giving out the number for a 24/7 sport concussion hotline which is 615-875-8722. Dr. Sills emphasized the importance of taking concussions seriously and utilizing this hotline to find out what to do in the event of a concussion. 

The presentation then moved on to the historical notes about Concussions. In 1905 there were 18 deaths and 159 serious injuries attributed to the game of football. In 1906 NCAA was founded in response to President Roosevelt’s concerns over the deaths in football. 

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is any injury to the brain which produces structural or functional alterations. Horseback riding causes 11.7% of all TBIs among recreational sports – highest percentage of any recreational sport. 

Diagnostic tools for a TBI are
-    Mostly a clinical diagnosis based on reported symptoms, observation of the athlete’s behavior and function and examination of specific brain function.
-    Inherent problem of truthful symptom reporting
-    Requires on site assessment by trained personnel

Concussion grading scales
-    No standardized definitions
-    No correlation with outcome
-    Arbitrary return to play guidelines
-    Becoming obsolete

CT and MRI don’t help in concussion b/c they are usually normal – tests structure not brain function
Computerized neurocognitive testing

What does ImPACT Measure?
-    Demographic/concussion history questionnaire
-    Concussion Symptom Scale (21 item likert scale)
-    Eight Neurocognitive Measures
-    Detailed Clinical Report

Baseline Testing (Normative data available for decision making when baseline data not available)
Concussion then retesting at different times later on. 

Current ImPACT test users
-    NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA, MLS, Formula One, Olympic teams (soccer, hockey, skiing, boxing)

Other assessment tools
-    Balance and vestibular function

Average duration of a concussion 3.5 days – 88% full recovery at 1 week
Return to play (purposely not listed time because it varies per case/age)
-    No activity (rest until asymptomatic) No texting, video games, etc (taxes the brain)
-    Light aerobic exercise (walking, stationary bike)
-    Sport specific training
-    Non-contact drills
-    Full-contact drills
-    Game action

Prevention of catastrophic brain injuries
-    Recovery: By far the most effective strategy for preventing sever brain injury is to avoid returning to exposure before a previous injury has fully healed.
-    Second Impact Syndrome

Strategies for concussion prevention
-    Helmets! 

Rule Changes
-    NFL (No helmet to helmet hits, defenseless quarterback)
-    MLB (automatic ejection for pitch aimed at head)
-    HHL (more frequent penalties for high sticks or checks)

-    Management of sports concussions is under ever increasing scrutiny from regulatory bodies, media and others
-    RTP decisions should be based on standard assessment tools
-    Long term effects of multiple sports concussions remain to be elucidated
-    Lifetime number of safe concussions remain unknown.

Following Dr. Sills’ presentation on concussions, he and his team provided ImPACT testing for a group of interested convention attendees. 

Eventing Calendar 2013 & Beyond

Putting together the Calendar for USEA Recognized Event is probably about as difficult as rocket science – every piece effects every other one and everytime any change is made something else needs to be tweaked. The group of organizers, riders, and USEA committee members gathered together to discuss some of the current problems they are facing in putting together the calendar. The calendar was approached from the views of various different people including: the professional eventer at the International Level, the professional eventer at the National Level, the adult amateur eventer, junior and young riders, and the actual organizers. In addition to the task of putting the correct levels at the correct times in lead up to major events, not having events at conflicting times, the organizers also have to deal with outside bumps in the road such as finding an available date at the location they want to host the event and making sure no other major event isn’t going on in the town so that the hotels aren’t filled to the brim. 

One example that was given with how difficult the calendar is that when NAJYRC moved a week earlier because of the Olympics it caused Rebecca Farm to have to move up a week, however, that put Rebecca Farm on the same weekend as Stuart and entries are already down at Stuart because it conflicts with The Maryland Horse Trials and Area II riders are choosing to stay local to keep costs down rather than travelling up to New York. Stuart can’t really move though because it is held on the land of five different owners and getting them to all agree on a date is nearly impossible.

The eventing calendar for 2013 will need to be set in the next few months and a lot of work and compromise still needs to be made. 

Young Riders

The Young Riders had an extensive presence at this year’s Convention with a committee meeting, open forum, and educational seminar all dedicated to the group of riders. In the Road To The NAJYRC . . . Making Sense of It All, panelists Shannon Lilley (Chef of Area VI), Jon Holling (1990s Area IV Team Member and Coach of Area IV), Elizabeth Baker (Mentorship Program Participant), Lizzie Snow (Area VII Team member in 2010-2011), and Will Faudree (Area V groom and team member in 1998-2000) told memories and gave advice based on their various roles in young riders. 

Following the educational seminar the Young Riders had a short open forum where a few details of importance were discussed about the North American Junior/Young Rider Championships including:

-    The championships are a week earlier this year because of the Olympics.
-    This year NAJYRC won’t be during the hunter show but will occur at the same time as Breyer Fest.
-    NAJYRC riders will have autograph sessions and educational talks this year.
-    No new disciplines are being added this year
-    Virginia has added a one-star in November to help with qualifications
-    The FEI puts the Championships out for bids every year but currently it looks like it will be remaining at the Kentucky Horse Park.

Don’t forget about the Young Rider Mentorship program as it gives kids who didn’t qualify to ride, don’t have the horse, etc. to mentor an official and still be a part of the team. Hopefully we will bring along kids who want to be officials. David O’Connor says the “manatees” are great and are very helpful. Give more kids an opportunity to experience the NAJYRC. 

Pan American Review

The Pan American Games Celebration consisted of a panel of the team members, Buck Davidson, Michael Pollard, Hannah Burnett, Lynn Symansky, and Shannon Lilley, as well as Captain Mark Phillips, Barn Manager, Doug Hannum, and Sara Ike. The panel members took turns sharing the memories of their gold medal winning trip to the Pan American Games. 

Sara Ike: “It was a pretty special trip as you all have heard. The hardest part of the trip for me was the day before the horses flew – Jon Holling showed such grace and it was a lesson for all of us and then for Lynn to be there and just jump right in was amazing. No one skipped a beat. I especially want to congratulate Mark, sometimes dealing with athletes is a bit like dealing with young horses,  and I think Mark is a master at getting the best out of every type of athlete. My biggest hurdles were communication and transportation. We are so dependent on our cell phones and mine just didn’t like the venue. For transportation the athletes were in the village, the support staff were an hour away, and the grooms were in a third location. We only had a 12 passenger van with a driver who only worked 14 hours a day. Equestrian rarely gets to stay in the venue and just being there was a great experience and you were part of something more. I think what is most exciting for me is that these athletes have been bitten by the bug, they have heard their national anthem, and they saw the flag going up to the top of the pole – this changed their life.”

Buck: “As you could probably tell we had a great time. I have been lucky enough to be on a few teams and when Mark talked to me about sort of leading the team, I was a bit hesitant as I thought the captain  should be an elected position. This team focused solely on winning a team gold medal – not just individuals. Michael did an amazing job as a clown, then we have a smurf, then we had a talent that you wouldn’t believe, then we had a mom. Everybody did their job to the best of their ability and at the end of the day that is what made it successful. Just as I was heading down to the water on cross-country my leg went out from under me. As I was galloping away I realized that my stirrup (not the leather) broke. It was plastic and probably about 20 years old so I guess I need to pay attention to my stirrups. Luckily my mare is easy to ride and I was able to get around with one stirrup.” 

Michael: “My job was to be the tallest – the first time I have ever been able to perform that role. Although we were on the highest podium the entire team was still shorter than the Brazilians. I have one person to thank more than anything else, Nathalie, for giving me the ride on Hanni. It was a fantastic experience and to be part of this team was really special. Hopefully all my team experiences will be like this because it was joy. I hope we can all be on a team together again – certainly nothing I will forget.”

Hannah: “Aside for smurf I was called the baby athlete because everyone had to put up with my disorganization so thanks for everyone’s patience. Thanks to all the support team and my home team, Ms. Mars, the O’Connors, and especially David who I believe was a bit conflicted as he was the coaching the Canadians and I was riding his horse.”

Lynn: “My journey was a bit different then everyone else. It was impossible for me to be excited when I found out I was going and it took me about two days to really get excited. It is a tough situation to be training day in and day out for something that probably isn’t going to happen. I had such a pit in my stomach when I was selected, and I want to thank Jon for being so gracious.”

Shannon: “I am otherwise known as mom. My journey started at the end of September when I went to Morven Park. I didn’t have a truck and trailer and Jon was so hospitable and he gave me and my horse a place to live. I felt embraced by everyone involved. Michael was the one who gave the name mom because I cooked dinner the night before we left. I deal a lot with the Young Riders, and this is the epitome of what a team means. It was such a cohesive unit and not once did anyone think of themselves.”

Doug: “It has been history-making. Since I started with the USET in the 1960s I have never seen anything like this. It was a dream, I have never seen the riders and horses in such great condition. This whole thing came together unbelievably. We had some fabulous grooms who made my life easier.”

Capt. Mark Phillips: “This was a different trip. First off we had to do our lasting outing and we have the definite entries in before the nominated ones. Everyone had to ride at Richland Park but I wasn’t there, and that was like a whole 10 weeks before the event. It was the best team in my 19 years that I have had the privilege of coaching. The worst job of any trip is to be the alternate and Lynn and Kristin did an unbelievable job turning up every morning. The rest is pretty much history. Buck did an amazing job going first – Libby’s dressage improved so much. Michael went into these games having a pretty rough time having a bath at Burghley and a short route at Boekelo and coming into these games he really stepped up. When Hannah was chosen the selectors said she will be a good team member but will certainly have a rail down, but she turned out to put in two double clears and win the individual silver medal.  Lynn rode her socks off and got everything out of that horse. Shannon was the anchor was an amazing competitor and did everything we could have hoped for out of an anchor or a mother. The fact they all five finished on their dressage score is special – something that has never been done before and probably won’t happen for a longtime.” 


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