Aug 21, 2019

The Summer Board Meeting Brings Together USEA Governors

By Leslie Mintz - USEA Staff
Members of the USEA Board of Governors. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

Carol Kozlowski presided over her final summer USEA Board of Governors meeting as USEA President as her term ends this December. Kozlowski made sure to pack a lot into the meeting with the Governors spending two days going over a multitude of items.

Kozlowski opened the meeting by thanking the 20 members of the Board who gathered in Dulles, Va. “Thanks for being willing to do the heavy lifting. It’s an honor,” said Kozlowski. USEA CEO Rob Burk then dedicated his presentation to Kozlowski.

Burk shared the current membership numbers of the USEA and that the Association is currently down by a few hundred members although overall the numbers have been trending upwards in the last decade. He noted that the age demographics indicate that more should be done to bring in junior members. Burk pointed to the proposal for the creation of a “Junior Eventing League” wherein junior riding members could earn team points throughout the year as a potential draw. The USEA Membership and Intercollegiate Committees are currently developing a proposal for this program which would focus on the eventing barns at which these junior riders train. It would be structured much like the Intercollegiate Eventing Program.

Burk facilitated an exercise with the Board to break them out into groups for a strategic planning session focusing on membership and bringing in new members. The Board was divided into groups focused on a specific age demographic and brainstormed ideas to market both the sport and the Association to new people in various age demographics.

As usual, a large portion of the meeting was spent making hard decisions on the budget. The USEA operates with 0% debt ratio and currently has 3.44 months of cash coverage, but looking ahead to 2020 there were cuts to be made or new revenue streams that need to be found. VP of Admin and Finance Morley Thompson, Jr. challenged the Board to find a way to keep costs down especially in relation to high-cost endeavors such at the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention.

Safety

Safety is never far from the minds of the USEA Board members as they continually work towards making the sport as safe as possible. In light of the two recent eventing related tragedies, the Board wants to make some significant steps forward. “It is not a one thing fixes all,” said Area II Board Member Morgan Rowsell. “Riders need to take responsibility to ride well and have well-certified instructors, but we need to take responsibility for funding research. We need to get the word out that it isn’t going to just be safer by putting in groundlines or frangible pins. We need to educate parents, riders, and all eventers.”

The Board put in a motion to develop and submit an emergency rule change proposal to the USEF which would require the technical delegate to “inspect the appropriateness of all jumps including in the warm-up. All warm-up fences need to be decorated and staked as they are on the cross-country course.”

The USEA has also decided to take over the frangible pin inventory from the USEF. The goal is to allow events to have access to the pins more easily. The grant program will continue with awarding each event money to offset the cost of purchasing frangible devices and the USEA can work with the USEA Foundation to work towards a goal of achieving zero cost for the purchase of frangible devices that are to be installed for recognized competitions.

As of July 1st each year.

The USEA Board voted to put a policy in place to send event officials lists of riders entered in the competition who are competing on horses with amber and yellow ERQIs. This will allow the events to designate officials to watch them in warm-up and ensure they are safe to continue on to the competition course. EquiRatings did report that 91.9% of all cross-country runs that have occurred so far this year “took place with combinations carrying a normal level of risk (green and yellow ERQIs). A further 5.5% competed in amber territory and 2.6% of the population competed in red territory.” EquiRatings stated that combinations with red ERQIs are significantly high in terms of rider falls and they are also jumping clear significantly less than the other groups. However, looking at the fall rates for the first half of this season against the first half of the season in every other year there was no significant difference.

The USEA Safety Committee, which is broken up into three subcommittees focusing on cross-country safety, equine safety and welfare, and rider safety, will continue to work with a top group of experts in order to move the safety of the sport forward.

USEA starters by state.

Calendar

There was a big focus on the USEA calendar at the meeting. How do we protect our longstanding events, but still have an easy path for new events to come on the calendar? Do we do a mileage rule? An open market? These were the tough questions that the Board tried to answer.

“The calendar needs a reset,” said Kozlowski. “Do we step into it and make some organizers unhappy? Or we can just keep making it down the road and solve on a case by case scenario. I think it is bigger than just putting a Band-Aid on it. What are we morally obligated to do? We need to protect people with a significant investment.”

Jonathan Elliott, Vice President of Competitions and Organizers Representative brought forth a proposal that would help at the upper levels and the Board decided to recommend it to move forward in the calendaring process.

“For two adjoining Areas the maximum capacity in a five-week period (two weeks before and after a date request) is five events at the Advanced or CCI4*-S levels.” This would preclude a conflict of adding a new Area III Advanced date to the already packed calendar in the pre-Kentucky season.

While a new calendaring process is still under discussion the Board moved forward with the current one and recommended several 2020 changes to move forward to the USEF:

  • Essex H.T. requested to move from June 21-23 to July 18-19
  • Ocala H.T. requested to add Advanced to their October 10-11 horse trials
  • Grand Oaks requested to add the CCI* level to their January 17-19 and November 21-22 dates
  • Sundance Farm H.T. requested to move from September 27-28 to September 19-20 due to a conflict with a pro golf tournament.
  • Copper Meadows requested to add an additional date, September 5-6 (BN-A).
  • Woodland Stallion Station requested to move from August 29 to September 5 due to a conflict with a Morgan horse show.

The Board also approved two rule change proposals brought by the competition committee which will now go to the Eventing Sport Committee and USEF for final approval. One was in regards to the family members of officials competing in the same division of an event in which they’re officiating, and the other was about relaxing the dress code for riders including any color helmet, any color jacket, any color neckwear, all with tasteful and discreet accents. The rule change also allows for members of the armed and police forces to wear their service dress while competing at the lower levels.

The next in-person meeting of the Board of Governors will be at the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention this December in Boston, Mass.

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