Dec 11, 2021

Meet Lou Leslie: 2022 USEA President Elect

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
Photo courtesy of Lou Leslie

Lou Leslie started eventing 30 years ago and hasn’t looked back since. She immersed herself in the sport from day one and became heavily involved, first at the local level as a volunteer and later as a member of the USEA Board of Governors (BOG) and eventually as a USEA Foundation Board of Trustee and Chair. From her first time at a horse trial to today, Leslie never imagined she would be serving as the USEA President Elect and eventual USEA President, but she will be adding the USEA President Elect title to her resume at the start of 2022 following her election in today’s Annual Meeting.

In looking back at where her journey to this point began, Leslie shared her humble beginnings as she transitioned from the world of hunter jumpers to eventing. “I literally picked up Sally O’Connor’s book Practical Eventing one day and said to myself, ‘well this sounds like fun. This is something I could do,’” Leslie reflected. “I met some wonderful people at my first event. Everyone was so friendly, so I started getting involved at the local level. You meet such wonderful people at every show and they ask for help and you just go, ‘sure! I can do that!’”

As a lifelong adult amateur, Leslie’s involvement in the sport grew and grew. In her pursuit to be a better rider herself, she began finding ways to become involved and educate herself along the way. “My philosophy about getting involved all stems from being an adult amateur and not having the horse in the backyard. What you learn very quickly is you have to make your own opportunities. Therefore I was the one organizing a clinic with someone I thought I could learn a lot from. I think that is what is so attractive about the sport of eventing is that you are always striving to be a better eventer. There is no such thing as a perfect eventer, but you are always striving to be the best that you can be.”

From organizing clinics to helping behind the scenes, Leslie has done a little bit of it all. You might know her from when she was lending a helping hand at a horse trial or volunteering as the Area VII Adult Rider Coordinator and Area Chairperson. Or maybe you know her from serving on several BOG committees such as Strategic Planning to Area Affairs. If you haven’t met her yet, Leslie is looking forward to the chance to make that happen. For her 30 years of involvement, Leslie has stepped in wherever her help was needed. She hopes to continue on with that mentality of service in her new role as President Elect.

“I think I can lend a sensible voice going forward in this presidency,” Leslie commented. “Since I have served on the BOG and have such a history of involvement, I see that we have such a passionate group of people and know that you need to have places for them to speak up and channels of communication open that allow for their input. That is one of the strengths of the USEA when you compare it to other organizations, we do have an opportunity to have a say in what our sport looks like. You just have to get involved. You don’t have to be the president and I think I am a great testimony to that. I was really involved before I became President Elect. I was always helping out the adult riders and helping out in the background. My name may not be up on a billboard or in the forefront, but I have always been in the background helping.”

Lou Leslie (left) in her work with the Rebecca Broussard Grant. Photo courtesy of Lou Leslie

Leslie doesn’t take her new responsibilities lightly. In fact, this is a role she has turned down in the past because she felt she wasn’t prepared at the time to give her duties as USEA President her full attention. “I was asked a while ago in my last couple of years on the Board of Governors if I would consider throwing my name in the hat for President, but at the time the timing was off. My sons are still in high school and one of the first things in my life is that my family is the priority. I knew I wouldn’t have the time to do a good job so I passed.”

This time around, however, Leslie felt better settled in her life to give 100% to the role of President, and also felt that her perspective as an Adult Amateur would help bring a lot of important discussions to the table. In fact, it was her desire to represent the Adult Amateur community in a much stronger way that Leslie realized it was time for her to step up into this new role.

Leslie will spend all of 2022 shadowing current USEA President Max Corcoran in her daily duties and preparing herself for the full transition in 2023. “I am really looking forward to working with Max and continuing her story. Her focus has been on being a better eventer through horsemanship and I can keep that story going. In the bigger picture, it is just continuing that story into how to be a better eventer overall,” said Leslie.

If there is anything you need to know about Leslie it is two things:

A) She believes it is one of the cardinal rules of eventing that you never mistreat a volunteer

and B) she is fueled by her persistent consistency of passion.

“For 30 years I have been very passionate about this sport and for 30 more years, I will be very passionate about this sport. I am honored to be representing the USEA family in this new capacity.”

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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 2021 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention is taking place at the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque Hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico, December 9-12, 2021. Click here to learn more about the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention.

The USEA would like to thank the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention Sponsors: Adequan, Bates Saddles, Gallops Saddlery, Mountain Horse USA, Nunn Finer, Nutrena, Parker Equine Insurance, RevitaVet, Rebecca Farm, SmartPak Equine, Standlee Premium Western Forage, D.G. Stackhouse & Ellis Saddles, Sunsprite Warmbloods, World Equestrian Brands, Area X, and Saratoga Horseworks.

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