In a bittersweet moment, USEA President Max Corcoran called to order her last USEA Board of Governors (BOG) meeting on Thursday, December 8th at the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention. The BOG will meet one final time during this week’s gathering on Sunday, December 11 led by incoming USEA President Lou Leslie
In her welcoming statements, Corcoran welcomed the incoming BOG members who will officially be inducted on Sunday: Mogie Bearden-Muller, Dana Bivens, Shawn Ortiz, Molly Pellegrini, and Jennifer Howlett Rousseau.
She then provided a quick rundown of some highlights of the 2022 year for the USEA including the introduction of the Emerging Athletes 21 (EA21) program which hosted six regional camps around the country in 2022 and will feature the National Camp in early January of 2023. Corcoran spoke about the USEA Young Event Horse horse program and the two Championships held on the East and West Coast which had strong numbers at both locations.
Further highlights shared by Corcoran included the USEA Intercollegiate program, which continues to be strong and offers a fun and competitive team environment for college eventers around the U.S.; that increased traction at the Modified level continues in all USEA areas; thanks in great part to the Lufkin Family Foundation Trust, enough funds were raised to ensure the viability of the perpetual USEA Grooms Award which will give recipients $5,000 in funds each year; and so much more.
USEA CEO Rob Burk began his CEO report by sharing thanks to several entities, including the outgoing board members, Corcoran, and the USEA staff.
“Huge thanks to the term-limited BOG members and huge thanks to Max. I don’t think she knew what she was getting into, but she has gone through an equine pandemic, a human pandemic, tragedies, massive rule and calendar changes, social changes, and countless things put in front of her and she always approached it with the same steady approach she does with horses so as to not spook us all, but to coach us in the right direction. Thank you so much, Max.”
Burk then acknowledged the hours put in by BOG members who have reached the end of their terms and thanked them for their service and countless volunteer hours spent on committee meetings, projects, and calls. He then turned his direction to the USEA staff.
“Our staff is by far an amazing group. This year we have only been at 16 employees, in past years we have had as many as 18 employees. Our 16 employees have been killing themselves to get work done. We are all hanging by a thread, but we are getting through it. The pandemic has really challenged us but the staff consistently rises to the challenge. These folks are doing it out of passion and putting hours and hours in. As horse people, we are a tough bunch. We go out to the barn in the morning and do the work that needs to be done. They do the same thing in and out of the office. They are a die-hard bunch that are always pushing forward. Huge thanks to this amazing staff we have.”
Getting down to business, a motion was made to approve the two incoming area chairs: Tiffany Wandy for Area II and Denise Krause-Spangler for Area X.
Committees then had the opportunity to bring forward any action items before the BOG for discussion or consideration. Corcoran and Lauren Nicholson spoke on behalf of the USEA Grooms Program. They shared that there were six competitions that wished to host a Grooms Program Educational Series similar to the one offered at Great Meadow in 2022. The request was put forward to adjust the budget to reflect an out-of-budget request of $6,000 to allocate $1,000 per competition for a two-day seminar. The motion was approved.
USEA staff member Kate Lokey spoke on behalf of the USEA Interscholastic Eventing League (IEL) and USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Program and shared that both committees voted to adopt a new Championship format in 2024 that will include not only the Intercollegiate Championships but also include the addition of the first-ever IEL Championships.
“The benefit of having the two championships run together is that we can approach the threshold of near 300 starters, which then many organizers would run an event with entries of those numbers as a standalone youth championship– a huge positive from my perspective,” shared Burk. “Adding in a Championship for the IEL keeps this pipeline of 7-12th graders flowing into the college ranks and better connects the colleges to those kids as they are coming up and pursuing their education. The Intercollegiate championships hosts are all on board and ready to host if approved.”
The BOG approved the proposal to include the IEL Championships with the 2024 Intercollegiate Championships, with a full budget discussion to be discussed in the BOG meeting in August of 2023.
A former proposition to transition the USEA published US Equestrian Rules for Eventing to an all-digital format was brought forward again to the BOG. Concerns surrounding costs relating to publication, printing, and staff time were addressed, but there were strong opinions that hard-copy rulebooks should be made available for officials. It was moved to continue with the printing of the rulebook as in the past for 2023, and to revisit potential opportunities for new ways of accessing the rulebook in the future at the August 2023 BOG meeting.
Following all committee concerns, chairman of the USEA Foundation Diane Pitts issued a report on behalf of the Foundation. “The Foundation has really grown up in the past few years and we are healthy. We have managed to enter memorandums of understanding with our different donor groups and have standardized procedures for selection committees. We have found our niche over the years for donor grants for various causes. This year we are giving grants to 28 individuals and this is exclusive of frangible technology grants that have been given throughout the year, as well as the Bromont Rising grants. This year we also have two new grants, the Packy Grant and the Richard Picken Award.”
Of those 28 grants, it is projected that the USEA Foundation will allocate $178,500 in grant funding in 2023.
USEF CEO Bill Moroney was in attendance to provide updates on ongoing and upcoming projects from the USEF. He noted that some of the Federation’s highlights in 2022 include:
In addition, Moroney shared that USEF membership in 2022 is forecasted to finish the year 178% ahead of 2021 figures.
Of utmost importance to the USEF, according to Moroney, is the topic of social license and why it is important. The topic is of such relevance that the 2023 US Equestrian Annual Meeting will feature a workshop on the theme and will welcome an expert on crisis management who will discuss how social media can impact equestrian sport in modern-day times.
In discussing the importance of social license and public perception of equestrian sport, Moroney referenced ongoings around the Thoroughbred racing industry and events that took place during the Tokyo Olympics in the Pentathlon competition as examples of how the general public can take specific instances and form opinions on equestrian sport as a whole in a negative way.
“The next part of what we are doing is looking to the future. As we saw, especially highlighted with what happened in Tokyo, the public hasn’t always had the greatest appreciation of equestrian sport, but the public’s acceptance of equestrian sport is really important to be able to continue forward,” commented Moroney.
At the end of a jam-packed meeting, Corcoran and Burk again expressed their gratitude to all parties involved and wished the room a wonderful weekend experiencing all that the 2022 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention has to offer.
The USEA BOG will meet again on Sunday, December 11 at 9:00 a.m. for final discussions of 2022 and will welcome the five new BOG members and will be led by incoming USEA President Lou Leslie.
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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 2022 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention is taking place at the Hyatt Regency Savannah Hotel in Savannah, Georgia on December 7-11, 2022. This year will be special as the USEA honors new inductees into the USEA Eventing Hall of Fame. Click here to learn more about the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention.
The USEA would like to thank the support of the 2022 USEA Annual Meeting and Convention sponsors: Adequan, Bates Saddles, Mountain Horse, Nutrena Feeds, Parker Equine Insurance, Standlee Premium Products, SmartPak, Kerrits, Capital Square, Nunn Finer, RevitaVet, D.G. Stackhouse & Ellis, World Equestrian Brands, Rebecca Farm, Gallops Saddlery, Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and more.
Marley Bridges lived and breathed gymnastics. “I started at the age of 5,” said Bridges. “You always had to have the time and the mindset for gymnastics. You had to allow yourself to commit to it. You had to commit to working out four hours a day, five days a week, doing cardio every single day, train every single day. You had to stay committed to yourself, the team, and the sport.”
If you’re like most riders you’ve probably heard someone say something like, “Your last mistake is your best teacher,” or “if you’re doing everything right you’re doing something wrong because you’re in your comfort zone.” While I agree whole-heartedly with these sentiments, I actually prefer, “Equestrians don’t make mistakes. Mistakes make equestrians.” They make us bolder, braver, and brighter; but only when we develop a positive relationship with our mistakes and respond to them in productive ways.
Up-and-coming eventing athlete Tommy Greengard of Malibu, California, was named the recipient of the United States Equestrian Team (USET) Foundation’s Amanda Pirie Warrington Grant for 2024. A current competitor on the U.S. Equestrian Federation's (USEF) Eventing Emerging Program List, Greengard has aspirations of representing the United States internationally.
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