Dec 09, 2018

Board of Governors Meeting Finishes Up the 2018 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention

By Jessica Duffy - USEA Staff , Leslie Mintz
The Board of Governors gathered for the second time this weekend on the final day of the 2018 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

“One of the most extraordinary parts of this meeting and this weekend, for me personally, is the enthusiasm and the generation of spirit and camaraderie,” stated USEA President Carol Kozlowski in her opening remarks at the second and final Board of Governors meeting at the 2018 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention. “We agree to disagree for the other 51 weekends of the year over some of the topics, but really it seems to be a coming together. [There is a] general spirt of cooperation where everyone wants to improve and move our sport forward, but we also know how to have a little bit of fun in the meantime!”

The 2018 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention also hosted the Gala for the 7th USEA’s Eventing Hall of Fame, where Karen O’Connor, Dr. A Martin “Marty” Simensen, Out and About, Howard Simpson, Tim and Nina Gardner, and Captain Mark Phillips were honored for their extraordinary contributions to the sport of eventing. “Hall of Fame years are extraordinary,” Kozlowski continued. “The aura of celebration is over the top. So, I thank the Board and the Staff for your part in generating that good spirit.”

“It’s been interesting to me to hear from people outside of our Association – I had two or three of them remark to me, ‘I don’t know how you guys do it. The spirit, the enthusiasm, what you do at your meetings – not just the celebrations, but the actual coming together at the meeting – it’s very, very impressive,’” Kozlowski concluded. “They recognized that sense of camaraderie that we have, that I’ve always believed and now I’m being told, is unique to our discipline. So, I thank all of you, because I know what an effort it is to do what we do every year and you do it because you love it and you believe in it.”

Senior Director of Membership Jennifer Hardwick provided a report on the 2018 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention. This year the Convention had a total of 365 attendees. That number was lower than expected, but the Convention still had a great turnout. More attendees than usual elected to stay off-site, making it more difficult to meet our room block requirement. Because of the merger between Sheraton and Marriott, the USEA will be able to add anyone who stayed at a Marriott hotel to the Convention room block. If you stayed off-site at a Marriott-owned hotel, please contact [email protected] as soon as possible.

Dawn Robbins updated the board on the event management system (EMS) project the USEA has undertaken. Carol Kozlowski has set up a task force to weigh the issues and different option and make a final recommendation to the Board of Governors. The task force will meet in January to discuss both financial and technical issues. Robbins thanked USEA Director of IT Robert Winter for his diligent efforts on the EMS project.

Janet Gunn came before the Board to inform them of the number of current eventing affiliate organizations in each area, listing both currently active organizations and those whose membership has lapsed. She also invited the Board to provide feedback on what the USEA can do to add value for eventing affiliates registered with the USEA. Burk reiterated the need to refocus on the USEA’s connection to both our affiliate organizations and our Area Councils.

Director of Programs and Marketing Kate Lokey next spoke to the Board about the 2019 and 2020 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) that are taking place at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Lokey expects that the AEC will have between 800 and 1,000 starters in 2019, far exceeding all previous records. Both Equestrian Events, Inc. and Mary Fike, the organizers of the 2019 and 2020 AEC have expressed excitement and are eagerly moving forward with preparations. The team is working on ways to make the coming AEC extra special, including having all competitors show jump in the Rolex Stadium.

While it was too late to add a proper Modified division to the 2019 AEC due to budget and time constraints, the 2020 AEC will include a Modified Championship division. For 2019, the Board entertained a proposal to add a Modified/Training Championship division, where dressage and show jumping will be held at the Modified level while cross-country will run over the same track as the Training Championships. Ultimately, after much discussion, the Board voted to approve this addition to the AEC. Qualification specifics for the 2019 Modified/Training Championship have yet to be determined.

Competitions Committee member Jonathan Elliott brought a proposal to rule EV 114 – Dress before the Board. The new wording will allow for helmets of any color single color with “modest piping or crystal decorations,” replacing the rule that helmets be predominantly black, brown, or dark blue for dressage and show jumping at Beginner Novice through Preliminary horse trials. Similarly, the wording addressing coats will allow single color or tweed jackets with “tasteful and discreet accents, such as a collar of a different hue or modest piping or crystal decorations.” Additionally, riders in any horse trial format from Beginner Novice through Modified will not be required to wear a jacket for the dressage or jumping test. The Board tabled this proposal for now but are planning to put forward the rule change to the USEF by September so it can be considered for the 2021 competition year.

The USEA Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series is undergoing significant changes for 2019. Kate Lokey reiterated that the riders can now qualify for the newly branded Adequan USEA Advanced Final at the AEC at any Advanced, CCI4*-S, and CCI4*-L competition, of which there are more than 30. She also announced that Adequan will be providing a $60,000 prize for the Final at the AEC. Work on the Gold Cup Signature Series, which will be similar to the Event Rider Masters Series in Europe, is continuing. Lokey said that the USEA is planning to work with a firm to attract sponsorship to provide live streaming for Gold Cup Signature Series events.

Morgan Rowsell from the Course Designers/Builders Committee brought forward a rule change proposal that would require all newly constructed oxers for Training level and above be built with frangible devices where "the front rail must be able to be activated by either combined horizontal and downward forces or horizontal and upward forces, and the back rail must, at a minimum, be able to be activated by horizontal and downward forces.” This extraordinary rule change would apply to all new constructions, with existing structures to be modified by 2020. The Board approved the vote to send this rule change to the USEF.

Tink Eichell reported from the Development Committee about a new fundraising video that is currently being developed and will be released in the spring. They are also looking into subsidizing the cost of training Young Event Horse and Future Event Horse judges. Finally, the committee once again asked for the fundraising priorities to be more condensed down by the Board of Governors in order to focus the efforts of the USEA Foundation.

Robin Walker, Co-Chair of the Future Event Horse (FEH) Committee, came in front of the Board to share what the FEH discussed and accomplished. Walker was happy to share that the FEH continues to grow. There were 50 horses in the East Coast Championships, 25 in the West Coast Championships, and 18 in the Central Championships. Walker said, “The first Central Championships proved to be very good, well run, and safe. There is already talk of YEH getting involved. I think Jayne [Lloyd] deserves our support.”

Walker continued, “Our biggest challenge is getting our judging up to the standard and remaining financially tolerable for the organizers. We will be requiring attendance at the symposium or Championships for the judges' list. We invited the Championships organizers onto our committee.”

There was also a discussion on the Breeder’s Database Task Force meeting. For years there has been talk of trying to get a database off the ground and the meeting was a big step forward in making it happen. “The is a real value for breeders, stallion owners, riders, trainers – will be great to have a central place where information is available,” said Walker. “There are more than a few decent young horses in the country and it would be everyone’s interest to track them.”

Rob Burk also added a comment about the new U.S. Event Horse Futurity which has been developed by Elizabeth Callahan. The program is being run outside the USEA, but the Board voted to support it. More information can be found here.

Diarm Byrne and Sam Watson of Equiratings giving their year-end report to the Board of Governors. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

Diarmuid Byrne and Sam Watson from EquiRatings contributed to the report from the Safety Committee by giving an update on the EquiRating Quality Index Ratings from this year. Byrne said that they are planning to focus on messaging and positive performance this year. It is exciting that 80% of starters were in the green category in 2018.

One thing that Watson commented was, “We have all seen clear rounds that have given you heart palpitations. We have to get brave about pulling out that yellow card. I know that it is hard for officials, but maybe it can be recorded privately with an ID number and we can see who is noting dangerous riding consistently and who isn’t so officials can be better educated.”

In Kate Lokey’s report on the Volunteer Committee, she shared that 123 events are now using the VIP app (up from 74 last year). They are going to use it at the Kentucky Three-Day which is very exciting. Lokey also made an announcement that Sunsprite Warmbloods, currently the presenting sponsor of the VIP program, will be adding extra financial support so the USEA can give cash prizes to all of the Area Leaderboard volunteer winners.

Tim Holekamp, Co-Chair of the Young Event Horse Committee (YEH) presented two motions which were both voted upon and passed.

  1. Continue to encourage, but in no way regulate, individual horse trials to have special recognition for the top-scoring 6-year-olds at Preliminary level (and/or CCI**S or L) and 7-year-olds at Intermediate level (and/or CCI***S or L). This development is already well on its way and is spreading.
  2. In 2019 establish website-published Leaderboards and year-end Horse of The Year awards for both 6-year-olds and 7-year-olds, using the existing Awards Points schema and considering all recognized competitions in the United States but only those competition levels listed in 1) above. All divisions offered at those levels would count. Both domestically and internationally bred horses would be considered. Pedigrees, breeders, owners, and riders’ names would be published.

“We believe this award series will be helped by avoiding the infusion of any substantial cash prizes, grants, and so on, though media recognition should be maximized,” said Holekamp.

Following Holekamp's presentation, Kozlowski adjourned the meeting, thanking the Board for their time and officially concluding the 2018 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention.

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About the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention
The USEA Annual Meeting & Convention takes place each December and brings together a large group of dedicated USEA members and supporters to discuss, learn, and enjoy being surrounded by other eventing enthusiasts. The USEA organizes multiple seminars in addition to committee meetings, open forums, and tons of fun! The 2018 Annual Meeting & Convention will take place at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana on December 6-9, 2018. Visit the 2018 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention page to stay up to date on news, announcements, and details.

The USEA would like to thank Adequan, Devoucoux, Nutrena, Charles Owen, Standlee Hay, Merck Animal Health, SmartPak, Mountain Horse, Parker Equine Insurance, Rebecca Farm, Auburn Laboratories, Stackhouse & Ellis Saddles, Bit of Britain, World Equestrian Brands, Gallops Saddlery, Revitavet, CWD, H.E. Tex Sutton Forwarding Company, Trio Safety CPR + AED Solutions, and Hylofitfor sponsoring the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention.

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