When the USEA was first established in 1959 the Annual Meeting of Members was the one time of year the Association members came together. Nearly 60 years later the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention has grown into much more than the single meeting, but it is still the backbone of the week. This year’s Annual Meeting was called to order by USEA President, Carol Kozlowski who introduced Tink Eichell, secretary of the USEA. Eichell then established a quorum was present and there was a vote to approve the minutes of the 2017 Annual Meeting of Members.
The theme of this year’s meeting seems to be talk of the weather and Kozlowski’s report didn’t diverge. “Seriously we’ve never encountered the sustained hits to our competitive season that we did this year – 28 events cancelled due to rain. The loss the starter fees was enough to wreak havoc with the USEA budget but worse than that, in my book, was the widespread depression it caused our riders and organizers. I won’t launch a philosophical debate on climate change, and I’m going to insist on believing our conditions will improve in 2019.”
Kozlowski continued her President’s report by thanking the USEA Board of Governors, USEA staff, and CEO Rob Burk. “It’s been so rewarding to be partnered with someone of such impeccable character,” said Kozlowski of Burk. “I believe the leadership he shows our office staff keeps everyone motivated. He’s upbeat, he’s enthusiastic, he’s ridiculously polite, and his intuition is usually spot on.”
Kozlowski doesn’t just blame the weather on the slipping numbers and cancellations, but also brought up the subject of unrecognized competitions where riders can get a similar experience at a lower cost. “The good news is they are interested in our sport. The bad news is that as these unrecognized events grow in popularity, we haven’t really seen a positive impact on our starters. We’ve had the discussion in the past, how do we make our competitions costs as low as possible for organizers and riders alike while keeping the standards of education and training of officials and designers in place? There’s no easy answer and it’s tough for the USEA to shoulder the burden of keeping the conditions of the competitions safe, officials well-trained, and courses well-designed and then have numerous organizers run basically the same event at half the cost as an unrecognized event.”
She shared her excitement about the USEA American Eventing Championships in Kentucky and a bet she made with Rob Burk. “I am predicting right now 1,000 starters – we will get almost 1,100 entries and run 1,000. So there it is folks, let’s get that done, the bet was for a steak dinner so start planning your trip!”
Kozlowski recognized the officials who are the highlight of this year’s Convention. “It is the absolute truth that we can’t run our sport without our long-suffering officials. We owe you so much,” said Kozlowski as she asked them to stand for an applause.
Kozlowski closed her speech in tears recognizing Kyra King Stuart who died suddenly on Wednesday. The USEA Foundation will be establishing the Kyra King Stuart Memorial Fund in her honor.
Morley Thompson, Jr., the treasurer, reported that we lost $100,000 this year, but the good news is that we have enough cash on hand. “It did concern us and we knew it couldn’t be an ongoing situation and we had to get the ship back on track,” said Thompson, Jr. The financials from 2018 can be viewed here.
Katherine Cooper, chair of the Legal Committees then explained the voting procedures for the USEA including the proxies which were mailed to all members and the in-person voting. Following the voting a motion was made to ratify the actions of the Board for the year.
USEA CEO, Rob Burk, was next on the stage and he said “I feel privileged to be your employee. I am not the boss. You as the members are the boss. You can call me anytime. Please take advantage of that any time.” He then highlighted achievements of the various departments and staff including:
Several outgoing volunteers were honored by Kozlowski and presented with gifts of appreciation including: USEA Foundation Trustees – Katherine Cooper, Tim Gardner, and Kaiti Saunders., Area IV Chair – Kathy Kerns, Area VI Chair – Chris Scarlett, Area IX Chair – Deeda Randle, and Board of Governor member: Bobby Stevenson.
Cooper was invited back to the podium in her role as the Chair of the Nominating Committee.
There was only one Board of Governors spot to fill and Deeda Randle was elected as representative for Area IX.
The Board of Governors then took a brief recess when they elected the slate of officers and the Trustees of the USEA Foundation nominated by the nominating committee. This year there were three spots for the trustees to the USEA Foundation and Roxanne Booth, Vicki Howard-Fine, and Alston Kerr were elected.
The slate was presented by Kozlowski as:
Carol Kozlowski: President
Max Corcoran: President-Elect
Tink Eichell: Secretary
Morley Thompson, Jr.: Treasurer/ VP Administration and Finance
Mary Coldren: VP Safety
Doug Payne: VP Active Athletes
Jonathan Elliott: VP Competitions
Debra Dealcuaz: VP Area Affairs
Dawn Robbins: VP Membership & Program Development
Jerry Schurink: VP Education
Joanie Morris was then welcomed to the stage to introduce the keynote speaker, US Equestrian High Performance Director, Erik Duvander, delivering his keynote address to the membership about history as an eventer and coaching experience. The presentation was well-attended and the full speech was played on the USEA livestream and will be released on-demand at a later date.
At the second-to-last of 40 efforts, "I thought, 'This is actually happening,'" said Amber Levine of a faultless finish with Cellar Farm's Cinzano today to stay on their 31.5 lead going into show jumping tomorrow morning in the Twin Rivers Spring International CCI4*-L. The Jeffs Hot Tub Waves complex at 19 a/b was the awkward exception to a Hugh Lochore-designed course that otherwise "rode great" for the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Classe VDL x Walta) in his long-delayed debut at the level. An entirely new portion of the course around the racetrack featured a series of bright-white painted obstacles, but nothing distracted Cinzano's "tunnel vision for those flags." Levine expects a similar game attitude tomorrow and has a rail to spare.
Black stallion antics after the CCI4*-L jog inspection yesterday were not a preview of Cinzano's dressage test today. "When you are riding and working him, he's all into what you are doing," says Amber Levine, who owns the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Classe VDL x Walta) through her Cellar Farm. A 31.5 dressage test puts them atop a field of four, three of which, including Cinzano, are first-timers in the division in Paso Robles, California.
Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.
The Chattahoochee Hills H.T. is hosting one of three CCI4*-S divisions this weekend across the country and with 34 entries they have the largest turnout as riders prepare for their spring CCI4*-L and CCI5*-L goals. The facility in Fairburn, Georgia is running seven events in 2021, but their April event is the only one offering a CCI4*-S.