Dec 12, 2022

USEA Board of Governors Approves New Rule Changes, Initiatives, and More for 2023

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
USEA/Olivia Airhart photo

Each year, the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention comes to a close with a final meeting of the USEA Board of Governors (BOG). USEA President Lou Leslie kickstarted the meeting by officially calling to order her first USEA BOG meeting as USEA President.

“I thank you so much for putting your trust in me and am very inspired by all of you to give forth my best effort,” Leslie commented in her opening remarks. She outlined the three areas of focus that she wanted all members of the BOG to take away from this year’s Annual Meeting & Convention: focusing on safety always for both horses, riders, and in safeguarding our sport; growing and protecting our membership; and to always keep the visibility of our sport at the forefront and to ensure we are portraying our sport in a positive light.

Leslie also encouraged all members of the BOG to maintain an approachable stance when working within the various USEA areas. “Our lack of approachability equates to a lack of communication,” she commented as she urged her fellow BOG members to open up those lines of communication with the members and officials at ground zero. Leslie also mentioned various efforts that will be put into place in the USEA Member Dashboard to allow USEA members a more interactive role in working with and nominating USEA leadership.

In discussing holding more interactive roles, a motion was made and approved to have committee members that are unable to meet minimal attendance requirements at Committee meetings step down from their positions.

USEA Senior Director of Membership Services/Meeting Planner Jennifer Hardwick recounted the numbers behind this year’s Annual Meeting and Convention. There was a total of 360 attendees in attendance with 218 attendees partaking in the Year-End Awards Luncheon and 180 who joined the celebrations at this year’s USEA Hall of Fame Gala. Next year the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention will take place in St. Louis, Missouri from December 6 through December 10, 2023. As the BOG discussed the upcoming convention, discussions were had about ways to encourage members to attend future Annual Meeting & Conventions.

Various committees had action items to present before the BOG. A summary of each committee’s relevant proposals are outlined below:

Deeda Randle spoke on behalf of the Area Affairs Committee and shared their conversations surrounding growing membership across the areas, cycles seen within the sport, calendar rotation, and engaging the Course Advisor Program with the lower levels to improve the quality of cross-country courses across the country.

USEA Vice President of Administration and Finance and Treasurer Brian Murray shared that in this week’s meeting with the Area Treasurers they discussed ways to make the lives of the Area Treasurers easier by sharing best practices and educational opportunities on resources available to them.

Cynthia Wiseman discussed the current funding allocations from the Equine Medical Research committee which included $28,100 for the Understanding Risk Factors for Transport-Associated Colic in Horses study being conducted by the Morris Animal Foundation, $15,000 for the Predicted Exercising Arrhythmias with Resting Eggs study being conducted by the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, and $3,005.83 to the research project Studying Postoperative Ileus Associated with Colic being conducted by the Morris Animal Foundation.

The Competitions, Calendar, and Rules Committee had several line items to put forward to the BOG for approval. Four 2023 calendar modification requests were presented and approved as they were without conflict and there were no declared objections. It was approved that Otter Creek and GMHA would both be allowed to add a Modified level to their 2023 competition. The Woodside Horse Trials in A-VI requested to continue as scheduled under a new organizing committee and the Stone Gate Farm H.T. requested a change from their current weekend of September 17-18 to one week later on September 23-24. Those approvals will move forward to the USEF for review.

Several extraordinary rule change proposals were brought forth for the BOG to approve. These extraordinary rule changes will be sent straight to the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) for review and approval. All of the proposed extraordinary rule change proposals were approved, some after further discussion and clarification. An outline of all extraordinary rule change proposals and ordinary rule change proposals (which will be made open for public commentary on December 14, 2023) will be published on in the coming days.

There were several updates and discussions brought forth by Heather Gillette and Dr. Anastasia Curwood on behalf of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. One of the greatest focuses of the DEI Committee is to improve accessibility for riders and spectators across the sport in the U.S. These improvements would not just be physical changes to facilities, but also a long-term project to have a deeper dive into the rules that would allow inclusivity across the board. The goal is to address these issues successfully, without putting too much strain on the parties, such as organizers, involved.

The new chair of the Membership Committee, Siobhan O'Brien, shared several ongoing projects and conversations within the Membership Committee which include promoting the recognition of a recognized Starter division, creating a database of eventing coaches where best practices relating to acquiring new students can be distributed, and ways to educate and increase visibility to potential members. O’Brien also mentioned that there was an organizers survey sent out that received an 18% response rate and that the data will be summarized for the Committee’s review.

The Organizers Committee, represented by Sharyn Antico, discussed the viability of entry fees and the realities of potentially having to raise those in a fair manner. Volunteer acquisition is a concern that the Committee is working with organizers on ways to obtain more volunteers.

Rusty Lowe spoke on behalf of the Safety Committee and its corresponding subcommittees and indicated that work would begin at Virginia Tech to apply unbiased testing on vests much like the work done through the helmet lab.

Two items were brought forth by Kate Lokey and Tim Holekamp on behalf of the Young Event Horse (YEH) Committee: one was a tabled proposal that breeders could utilize to register their weanlings in their first year of life prior to December 31st at a discounted rate for lifetime registration of $50 with no upgrading fees. This effort would aid in the capturing of accurate pedigree and proving age as the foal will typically be still in the hands of the breeder who will input the appropriate information that will follow along with the lifetime of that foal’s USEA career. A motion was made and approved to enact this new registration offering. The second item was also previously mentioned in the August 2022 BOG meeting and was set to be circled back upon after further discussion. The proposal was to create a domestic 6- and 7-year-old Championship based on the two-star and three-star short levels of the CCI levels beginning in 2023. The motion was approved by the BOG.

In relation to the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC), the addition of adding a Modified Rider level to the 2023 AEC as well as offering a Modified level of the Adult Team Championships. A motion was made to approve both additions and was approved by the BOG.

The concluding conversation during the Sunday BOG meeting was in relation to social media and code of conduct. New USEA BOG member Mogie Bearden-Muller discussed several social media posts made over the course of the year by USEA members that were considered detrimental to the sport and the Association. Bearden-Muller referenced British Eventing’s social media policy which puts a damper on these types of posts from BE members. It was moved for a task force to be created to investigate this issue for further discussion at a later BOG meeting.

With that, the final BOG meeting of 2022 came to a close.

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