The Sunday morning Board of Governors typically closes out the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention, but this year the meeting was held over three hours on Tuesday night via Zoom Webinar. With an extensive agenda to cover, the USEA Board, including the four new members who were elected at Saturday’s Annual Meeting, made motions, voted, and fairly conducted the business of the Association.
USEA President Max Corcoran opened the meeting with a call to order and setting the agenda before passing the stage over to the new secretary, Sharon Anthony, to approve the minutes of the November 19, 2020 Board Meeting. In her opening remarks, Corcoran gave kudos to the USEA Staff for pulling together a successful Virtual Annual Meeting & Convention and shared that she had nothing but positive feedback. USEA CEO Rob Burk echoed Corcoran’s sentiments in his opening remarks.
USEA Senior Director of Membership Jennifer Hardwick reported on last week’s Convention – sharing that we had seven live sessions with 378 attendees, seven on-demand educational videos that were shared, and 277 members signed on for the Annual Meeting. All of the sessions are available to watch on the USEA website here. The USEA is planning on returning to in-person Conventions for 2021 and looks forward to seeing everyone in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2021 and Savannah, Georgia in 2022.
The Board had three invited guests then speak. First up was Dr. Mark Hart, who is the chair of the FEI Medical Committee, USEF Team Doctor, and a longtime eventing owner and supporter. Dr. Hart, speaking from the hospital where he works in Portland, Oregon, updated the Board and attendees about the state of the coronavirus in the U.S. and around the world. “I really was proud of my fellow equestrians who allowed us to compete,” Dr. Hart said of when shows restarted in June. “Shows went on. Was it different? Yes, but we did it in a safe way. There were some cases, but much less than in many other environments. Wearing a mask and staying six feet apart isn’t a huge sacrifice to be able to get out and compete.”
Dr. Hart said that it will be six to nine months before we have enough people vaccinated to make a difference and since most competing equestrians are young and healthy it will be a while before they are vaccinated. However, he emphasized the need for us to be ambassadors for the vaccine and especially encouraged educating that you can still pass the virus even if you are vaccinated. “Until it is gone wear the mask and social distance – we don’t need one extra death,” said Dr. Hart.
Dr. Hart also touched on the state of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics through his position with the FEI and said that he thinks things are looking good to host them, but whether spectators will be able to attend is still a big question.
USEF CEO Bill Moroney took center stage next and gave his report to the Board. He also focused on COVID-19 and the USEF’s response to the difficult year. “USEF is not planning to halt competition unless the environment forces us to. We need to double down on the COVID-19 action plan and stay vigilant – at the ring, the schooling areas, back at the barns, even when you go to dinner at night you should keep practicing social distancing and mask-wearing and hand washing to keep safe,” said Moroney. He shared that the USEF has not had an easy year budget wise like most of their affiliates and they had to reduce their staff numbers and reevaluate their revenue streams to keep the sport alive and operating in the future.
USEF Managing Director of Eventing Jenni Autry shared her gratitude for having such a great working relationship with the USEA and thanked the staff and all of the volunteers behind the scenes. She touched on a few highlights of USEF/USEA joint initiatives including the course advisors program, which is celebrating its 20th year, the new Youth Team Challenge, and the eventing athletes pathway. She recommended that all attendees watch the USEF High Performance Webinar which Erik Duvander held last week as part of the USEA Convention.
With the guest speakers concluded, the meeting then turned to business as the USEA Board had 10 action items to review and make motions on.
Vice President of Area Affairs Deeda Randle reported on the state of the Area Affairs Committee and the Board made a motion to approve the following incoming Area Chairs and add them as signers to the Area accounts.
The Board was also asked to allow Area V Chair Stephanie Reimers to serve a second three-year term, however, the Area Guidelines only allow for a single three-year term. In special circumstances the Area Council and Board can override the term limit, however, according to the Area Guidelines, the Area Council must form a nominating committee to find a suitable replacement and if a volunteer cannot be found then the second term can be considered. An objection was raised that the Area Council did not follow procedures, so a motion was made to allow Reimers to serve as interim chair for a one-year term to give the Area Council time to form a nominating committee. The Board was sure to note that the decision not to allow a second three-year term was not due to Reimers’ performance (which was said to be excellent), but was a procedural decision.
Jonathan Elliott, Vice President of Competitions brought forward four motions. The first was to recommend for approval to the USEF 2021 licensed competition calendar modifications for date changes to the spring schedule. The Board voted to approve the motion and the approved dates are:
The second motion brought forward by the Competitions, Calendars, and Rules Committee (CCRC) and the Organizers Committee was to approve the current draft of the 2023 Calendar proposal with proposed amendments by those Committees which the Board voted to do so. The third motion from the CCRC was to recommend that the Board conduct a study for the sport for proper terminology for on-site medical requirements. The Board didn’t pass the motion but made a motion to work with the USEF on the establishment of an updated national standard. The final motion made by the VP of Competitions was to open the bid process to identify the location of the 2023 and 2024 USEA American Eventing Championships.
Morgan Rowsell, Co-Chair of the Eventing Course Designers/Builders Committee, gave an update on the rule change proposal to EV140 Cross-Country Obstacles: Frangible Fences – Corners. The Committee wasn’t able to decide on an implementation date due to the fact that the FEI hasn’t approved certain frangible corner kits yet.
Vice President of Education Jerry Schurink brought forward two recommendations for the Board to vote on – approving the rule change proposals to EV134.18 and EV112. Both motions passed. The full wording for the rule change proposals can be viewed here.
Anthony then invited guests Joan Simmons and Jennifer Rousseau to speak about the USEA Instructors’ Certification Program (ICP) and motions were made to approve the ICP’s new mission statement as well as a change to the levels of certification. The full mission statement and changes will be available for review on the USEA website in due course.
USEA Director of Programs and Marketing Kate Lokey brought forward a proposal from the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Committee about allowing seniors who missed out on their final chance to compete in the 2020 USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships due to its cancellation be allowed to compete in the graduate division at the 2021 Championships. The motion passed.
Lauren Nicholson, Vice President of Active Athletes, asked the Board to vote to allow the USEA Professional Horseman’s Council (PHC) to absorb the Event Riders Association of North America (ERAofNA) as both groups have a very similar idea and goals. The USEA would take over the ERAofNA’s year-end awards and the committee would adopt the name of ERAofNA. The motion was approved by the Board.
Corcoran then presented the rule change proposal of EV153 Show Jumping Faults on behalf of the USEA Safety Committee. A discussion ensued about the use of five rails or 20 penalties since penalties may include refusals and circles, etc. However, the data available only includes penalty points and doesn’t distinguish between rails and refusals. Another discussion surrounded applying to all levels and whether the rule should be applied if show jumping is before cross-country or after as well. The motion passed with rewording to 20 penalties rather than five rails and will move on to the USEF for the next step of approval.
John Bourgoin, the Board Representative on the Young Riders and Juniors Committee, asked for a vote to allow the USEA Area Young Rider Programs ages to be increased to 25 in order to match the new Youth Team Challenge age range. Dawn Robbins, VP of Membership, asked that the motion allow for 22- to 25-year-olds to decide if they wish to join the Young Riders Program or the Adult Riders Program, however limiting dual Adult and Young Rider Program members to one related championship each year. The motion passed pending review by the Young Riders and Juniors Committee.
With the action items concluded, the meeting moved to other business with Burk giving an update on the Frangible Technology Distribution Program and USEA Foundation Grant Program - $430,000+ has been raised and the Foundation has approved all 236 requests for grants for frangible devices. He gave a huge thanks to all who have donated and everyone involved in the effort.
Robbins then gave a brief update on the USEA’s Event Management System saying that it is being delivered this week and several pilots are being planned and some exciting work is getting off the ground. A discussion then occurred surrounding the branding of the tool which would enable it to appeal to a range of equestrian disciplines.
The USEA Board of Governors next meets as a full board in May with several executive committee conference calls planned before. More information about the USEA Board of Governors is available here.
It’s the turn of the world’s best Eventing athletes to stand under the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games spotlight over the next few days as all but one of the horses presented at this morning’s horse inspection at Baji Koen Equestrian Park were confirmed for action by the Ground Jury.
And they're off! Eventing kicks off today in Tokyo (Thursday, July 29 – 7:30 p.m. ET), with the first of three Olympic dressage sessions. Competitors from 29 nations will go head to head, vying for a spot on the coveted Olympic podium.
There were a few last-minute dramas at the first horse inspection for the Tokyo Olympics which took place in the main equestrian park at Baji Koen Equestrian Centre at 9:30 a.m. JST today.