2021 Board of Governors Nominee Bios

Cynthia Bayles | At-Large

Cynthia Bales.

Cynthis Bayles graduated from the University of Puget Sound with a double major in Business Administration and French. She then pursued her MBA at Seattle Pacific University. After graduating from college, Cynthia worked in Europe and the Middle East. She recently retired after a 30-year career in banking and finance with the last 10 years in senior management.

Cynthia was the Area VII Treasurer for three years, Area VII Chair from 2019-2020, and responsible for fundraising for multiple Area VII activities over the years. She is currently the treasurer for a non-profit farm animal assistance program on Whidbey Island, Washington and was the treasurer for a non-profit eventing group in Oregon. Cynthia founded and was the president and treasurer for a regional non-profit educational group for eventing in Oregon and Washington.

Cynthia has ridden horses since childhood, took up eventing 20 years ago, and has evented through the Intermediate level. She recently earned her USDF Bronze Medal and plans to work on her Silver Medal with her event horse. Cynthia also has other athletic experience including competing in several Olympic Trials, multiple National Championships, and in Europe in Track and Field in the middle-distances.

Lauren Nicholson | At-Large

Lauren Nicholson.

Lauren Nicholson (née Kieffer) began riding at the age of 6 and competed in her first horse trials at the age of 12. As a high school graduation present, Nicholson participated in a week-long eventing summer camp with Olympians David and Karen O’Connor, which led to a six-year working student position. Her talent and work ethic helped her reach the top levels of the sport and represent her country in international championships. In 2018, Nicholson and Vermiculus placed fifth in the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI4*. With Vermiculus’s stablemate Veronica, Kieffer finished in ninth place in the Mitsubishi Badminton Horse Trials CCI4*. In 2019, Nicholson was USEA Lady Rider of the Year and highest ranked U.S. rider in the FEI World Rankings in sixth place. She also finished two horses in the top 10 at Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5* and was the highest placed American in the Burghley Horse Trials CCI5*, finishing in ninth with Vermiculus. Nicholson has proven she is a consistent top performer in recent years and represented the U.S. at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games, 2016 Rio Olympics, and 2015 Pan American Games.

Siobhan O’Brien | Area V

Siobhan O'Brien.

Siobhan O’Brien has ridden and competed in eventing for over 25 years. Siobhan has competed throughout the United States, attending several USEA American Eventing Championships and FEI competitions and was the 2011 Area V Preliminary Champion. She has ridden multiple horses from Beginner Novice through Intermediate and produced her horse, Hoodwink, to Intermediate before selling him to a young rider. Siobhan was the USEA Area V Chair for two terms, managing the calendar, communicating with organizers, and competitors and representing the Area to the national organization. Siobhan is a USEA ICP Certified Instructor with over 12 years of experience training beginners through Preliminary riders.

Prior to horses, Siobhan worked in Canada and the U.S. with several companies including Microsoft. After leaving Microsoft she started OnTrack Imaging to bring innovative imaging technologies to the equine market. Siobhan is truly able to identify with the adult amateur competitor. She has had a lifetime love of horses, but wasn’t able to seriously immerse herself into riding until she was an adult. As Malcom Gladwell writes in Outliers, “It takes 10,000 hours to become expert at something.” In an obsessive fashion, Siobhan put in her 10,000 hours and now derives pleasure from bringing horses into the lives of others.

She has owned and managed boarding and training facilities in Flower Mound, Texas since 2002. Siobhan recently opened a new facility for Horselife Farm in Bartonville, Texas. Siobhan and Shelley Peters run the 22-stall facility on 17 acres, creating a barn atmosphere “where everybody knows your name.” Siobhan also has three children and a supportive husband, all of whom are involved on the farm.

Wayne Quarles | Area VIII

Wayne Quarles.

Wayne Quarles had a passion for horses from a very young age but being from a non-horsey family had to be content with occasional rides at a hack stable until he saved enough money to buy his first horse at age 15. After that, Wayne’s primary education was from riding for a local sales barn and he started riding problem horses for people. While his initial education was in hunter/jumpers, dressage became a passion after watching the Spanish Riding School perform in Washington D.C. when he was about 16. Eventing happened later in his career when coaching dressage and jumping for the local Pony Club. They needed a cross-country coach to prepare for their regional rally and since he knew how to ride on terrain from hunting, Wayne stepped in and has been involved ever since.

Wayne holds the following licenses: FEI Level 2 & USEF “S” Eventing Judge and Technical Delegate, FEI Level 2 Steward, USEF “R” Judge for Dressage and Connemara, and “r” Judge in Western Dressage.

Wayne is a past Area VI Chair and is the outgoing Area VIII Chair. He served 16 years on the USEF Eventing Committee (eight years as Vice Chair and four years as Chair) and is the current Chair of the USEF Eventing Sport Committee Officials Working Group. He has been a member of the USEA Eventing Licensed Officials Committee for more than 25 years and is the co-author and panelist for the Training Program for Eventing Officials. Additionally, Wayne is a member of the USEF Connemara Inspection Committee and has served two terms on the American Connemara Association Board of Governors. He was a founding member of the Masterson Park Equestrian Trust Foundation and served two terms as Secretary.

Currently Wayne competes in dressage and eventing with his fifth-generation homebreds.

John Bourgoin | Area I

Growing up in New Brunswick, Canada, and northern Maine along the U.S./Canadian border, John Bourgoin’s riding life began with trail riding and competing in local Western horse shows. While attending college in Vermont, John was introduced to the local hunter/jumper scene where he spent time learning how to ride in an English saddle and proceeded to enter the world of jumping horses. While boarding a horse at a local stable, John also began volunteering and helping out with the Charlotte Pony Club. After nearly 40 years he continues to be one of their main instructors and volunteers for their annual horse trials. John is still competing and has developed and competed his own horses through every national level of the sport. He has also trained and coached riders from Beginner Novice to Advanced. For the last 25 plus years, he has been very involved in the Area I Young Rider Program. Several of his students have represented Area I as team members, as well as having been team and individual medalists at the North American Youth Championships. He continues to serve as a team selector and clinician for the program. In 2013, John was the recipient of the USEA’s Cornerstone Award. Having retired from public school teaching after 38 years, John now has the opportunity to work full time with clients and their horses. John and his wife Alice own and operate Arbrook Farm in North Ferrisburgh, Vermont.

Sharon Anthony | Area III

Sharon Anthony graduated from Auburn University with a B.A. in Education and Sociology. She received her M.A. degree in Psychology and Educational Administration and Supervision and went on to teach Sociology and Psychology in the Metro Nashville Public Schools. She served as principal in Nashville’s largest high school for 14 years and retired as the Director of Staff Development for Principals and Teachers. Sharon came into eventing early on through the Middle Tennessee Pony Club. She has remained a long-term supporter as a rider, coach, and volunteer of their activities and event. She was one of the earliest members of the USCTA (now USEA) with a member number of 363. In 2016, she was awarded a USEA Governor’s Cup for her volunteer service to the sport. She served as a member and secretary on the USEA's Endowment Trust (now USEA Foundation) for six years and continues to serve as a member and secretary for the Rebecca Broussard International Developing Rider Grant selection committee. She is an ICP Level I Training instructor and a member of the Adult Rider program. As an active lower level rider, she twice finished second at the USEA Adult Team Championships in Texas. Along with her “fabulously supportive and genius husband,” Mike Weesner, they own Hardscuffle Farm in Primm Springs, Tennessee where they specialize in boarding retirement horses, raising premium horse hay for their farm and clients, and fostering puppies for the local humane association.

John Staples | At-Large

John Staples is a USEA ICP Level III Certified Instructor as well as an Advanced level competitor. John was long-listed for the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Teams and was named as an alternate for the 1988 Olympic Team. John's training focuses on establishing rhythm, relaxation, and straightness to develop a horse who is responsive to the aids, adjustable, balanced, and confident. He uses these principles of dressage in all phases of developing the event horse. John helped initiate the Cross-Country Speed Study, which is investigating the rate at which horse/rider pairs negotiate cross-country obstacles and the impact on safety. John has also served on the USEF Safety Committee.

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