Dec 08, 2017

USEA Board of Governors Highlight 2017 Accomplishments; Look Ahead to Continuing Success in 2018

By Leslie Mintz - USEA Staff

It was a productive morning of discussion for the USEA Board of Governors meeting with the Vice Presidents and committee chairs giving their annual reports to the full Board. USEA President Carol Kozlowski opened the meeting with various highlights of 2017. Her reports were almost all of a positive nature and included the strategic planning session success, the record number of entries in the American Eventing Championships (AEC), Young Event Horse and Future Event Horse Championships, and the continued safety efforts of the organization including EquiRatings and The Chronicle of the Horse Round Table. Kozlowski also praised the Board for their efforts in deciding the location of the 2019-2020 AEC, “three conference calls and eight hours of discussion later we really examined every aspect, and I am very confident in the decision to go to Kentucky,” said Kozlowski.

Next on the agenda was the report of CEO, Rob Burk, who shared USEA staff highlights of 2017 including the following numbers:

  • 42,851 starters in 238 events
  • 12,913 USEA members – an all-time high
  • Raised over $230,000 for frangible fence research, officials education, and emerging athletes
  • Over 300 instructors now certified with the USEA Instructors' Certification Program
  • 17 officials educated and nine new and upgraded officials
  • 4,200,000 unique web page views on of over 650 website articles published this year
  • 33,000 subscribers to the weekly USEA eNewsletter

Some of the new programs rolled out in 2017 by the USEA included: Beginner Novice membership, Volunteer Incentive Program leaderboard, safety coordinator online certification, EquiRatings, expansion of the Intercollegiate Program, movement to the cloud, and more. Despite all of these new items the USEA still finished the year with a positive budget and $0 in debt. 

The Board then approved the incoming Area Chairs:

  • Area I – Sara Adams
  • Area III – Cynthia Kurth
  • Area V – Stephanie Reimers
  • Area VII – Rachel McCort
  • Area VIII – Wayne Quarles

Tremaine Cooper reported on behalf of the Course Designers/Builders Committee the new rule change proposal they are putting forward for EV140.9 which addresses frangible technology. Ultimately the Board decided it was important enough not to wait a full year and voted to ask the USEF to put it through as an extraordinary rule change following a discussion about the inventory of frangible devices and ability for builders to implement the requirements in a timely manner. The new rule would read:


b. At the Modified Level and above, all rail fences for which frangible technology can be employed, must use frangible technology (e.g. Frangible Pins, MIM Clips, or any other load relieving devices). These fences include, but are not limited to verticals, gates, open corners, and all open oxers in all cases. At a minimum these devices must activate with forces that have both vertical and horizontal components – the exception being the front rail at the point of an open corner, which may use a traditional forward pin.

The original rule can be read here. Cooper explained the choice to go with Modified level and above because the technology needs to drop a little over a meter in order to work as designed and the lower level fences aren’t high enough to be effective.

The Board also voted to approve a change to EV140 to bring it in line with the FEI change to the measuring of the spread of the jump from the line where the average horse is expected to jump. Many more fences are being jumped on an angle and this allows for greater fairness in spreads.  

Katherine Cooper reported for the Nominating Committee that they have a full slate nominated to fill the vacant Board spots that will be voted on in tomorrow’s Annual Meeting of Members. She also gave brief updates of the Equine Medical Research committee and Legal Committees which had no major action points to report.

USEA Director of Programs Kate Lokey shared reports on the Future Event Horse, Young Event Horse, and Intercollegiate programs. Lokey emphasized that the YEH Committee is aware of the conversations going on about the program and they are working to completely revamp the dressage tests, score sheets, and overall way the program works. They are hoping to be able to announce the changes following Convention. For the Intercollegiate Program, Lokey reported that starter numbers tripled for the Championships this year and the Committee is working to do more outreach to the schools – especially on the West Coast – in order to grow the program even more.

Seventeen officials took the final exam in 2017 reported Janis Linnan, who is the liaison to the Evening Licensed Officials Committee, and the Committee has 22 prospective candidates for 2018. The project to move all of the official’s educational materials online is now complete and Linnan is excited about the success of it.

Dawn Robbins, Vice President of Membership and Program Development, shared that 2017 was a very positive year with membership numbers being strong, especially with the new auto-renewal program allowing members to get a full year of benefits. “The adult riders are very pleased with the amateur and rider divisions being offered at the AEC,” said Robbins. “The Adult Team Challenge was the largest that we have ever had and while we know the numbers will go down in 2018, we still see it as a key program. We are also pushing to make the team selection much more transparent.”

The Vice President of Active Athletes Leslie Law said that 2017 was a very positive for the Emerging Athletes with training sessions in Florida, North Carolina, and California throughout the year. The E25 and E18 riders had great success at Jersey Fresh, Fair Hill, and over in Europe thanks to the Karen Stives Grant. “Overall I am very happy with the way it is going,” explained Law. “It is interesting with the selection – it is getting tougher and tougher. I think success at the top is breeding more and more success for the younger generation.” Law also mentioned that there is proof in the success of the program as Mackenna Shea aged out of the E25 and was put on one of the senior training lists. Switching to his Professional Horseman’s hat, Law shared that Matt Brown is taking over as the chair of the PHC and they covered two main points in their meeting yesterday with the focus being on footing and steward communication.

In her report from the Safety Committee, Mary Coldren said that the biggest discussions lately have been on rewriting and streamlining the Safety Coordinator’s Manual. They are also looking at ways to keep the Frangible Fence Study on track and providing useable data that can be distributed to course designers and builders for implementation.

“The USEA Foundation’s purpose and intent is to work in tandem with USEA Inc. to grow the sport and fund key grants,” said Kevin Baumgarder, Chair of the USEA Foundation, in his report to the Board. “Grant administration has just exploded in the last several years and we are trying to be a vehicle that can be used creatively to fund the sport. We have made the transition from the Endownment Trust to the USEA Foundation and now it is really time to take off.”

On Saturday night the USEA Foundation will give out $125,000 in grants thanks to the donations of our members, but also thanks to the new investments of the Foundation which was instrumented by Tink Eichell.  

The Board then invited Pamela Duffy of Sunsprite Warmbloods to present a proposal for a new award in honor of Captain Mendivil-Yucupicio who was a 1980 Moscow Olympic Bronze Medalist for Mexico and one of Duffy’s greatest inspirations. The Board unanimously decided to allow Duffy to go forward with the award which will give $5,000 and a trophy crafted in Mexico to an international rider competing in the U.S. who exemplifies the qualities of Captain Mendivil-Yucupicio. The award will begin in 2018.

The meeting was concluded with a report from Joanie Morris on the USEF High Performance update. She shared highlights of the U.S. High Performance squad which included 12 top-10 performances overseas, a win at the Great Meadow Nations Cup, and the hiring of Erik Duvander. Looking ahead to 2018, Morris said the focus of the program will be to get qualified for the Olympics at the World Equestrian Games in order to open up the 2019 Pan American Games to developing riders. Morris also announced a new award, the Roger Haller Trophy, which will be given at the Kentucky Three-Day Event to the highest placed American. The USEF is working to fundraise the purchase of the bronze sculpture from Kerry Millikin.

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About the USEA Annual Meeting and Convention

The USEA Annual Meeting and 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 eventing enthusiasts. The USEA organizes multiple seminars in addition to committee meetings, open forums, and tons of fun! The convention is made possible through the support of sponsors: Adequan, Devoucoux, Nutrena, Charles Owen, SmartPak, Rebecca Farm, Mountain Horse, Merck Animal Health, Standlee Hay, Auburn Laboratories, Eventing Training Online, DG Stackhouse & Ellis Saddles, Point Two, Professional’s Choice, Bit of Britain, Staples Inc., World Equestrian Brands, Gallops Saddlery, RevitaVet, CWD, H.E. Tex Sutton Forwarding Company, and Parker Equine Insurance.

Learn more about the 2017 USEA Annual Meeting and Convention by visiting the Convention page on the USEA website.

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