St. Louis, Mo.—Dec. 7— This afternoon, USEA President Louise “Lou” Leslie welcomed U.S. Eventing Association (USEA) Board of Governors members, USEA staff, and USEA Annual Meeting & Convention attendees to the first of two Board meetings which will take place during this year’s Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, with the teaser that 2024 is going to be full of initiatives for more opportunities to access the eventing experience, some of which attendees might get first wind of during this year’s gathering. The 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention takes place Dec. 7-10 at the Marriott St. Louis Grand Hotel.
Before the Board dove into the most pressing topics of this kickoff meeting, Leslie took a few moments to recognize the three outgoing Board members, John Staples, Sharon Anthony, and John Bourgoin. She opened up the floor to these three exemplary advocates of the sport of eventing to share their thoughts on their time as members of the USEA Board of Governors.
Staples, a local to USEA Area IV, reflected that on his drive into St. Louis, he took some time to reflect on his last six years as a member of the Board.
“I am so pleased to see that those who are members of the Board come together and put personal agenda aside to work through big issues,” he said. “We spend many hours on the phone, and everyone sticks it out. Everyone has been really wonderful to work with, and it really shows you how all of these people truly care about this sport.”
Anthony said that she distinctly remembered getting the call which encouraged her to consider stepping into a Board of Governors member role.
“I have learned so much, and I am so indebted to the staff,” she stated. “It is incredible what they do, and I am eternally grateful and appreciative of this opportunity. Each individual member of this board is so amazing in the expertise that they bring.”
Bourgoin noted that he has been involved in the sport for a long time as a coach, rider, competitor, and trainer, but that prior to his time on the Board of Governors, he had never thought about how the organization functioned.
“I had never had the opportunity to give back to the Association,” he said. “When I was asked to come on the Board six years ago, I knew this was my chance. You don’t ever stop learning, and being on the Board has been an education in itself. It has been a fabulous experience and I will miss it.”
USEA CEO Rob Burk then took an opportunity to acknowledge a few members of the USEA staff who have reached important milestones in their careers with the Association. Software Architect Seethalakshmi Seetharaman and Kate Lokey, Director of Programs and Marketing, both celebrated 10 years with the Association, and Administration and Finance Manager Lisa Rowe, celebrated 15 years of service this year.
Burk then acknowledged that Senior Director of Competitions, Sharon Gallagher, is nearing her retirement date after 29 years of service, and the room stood and clapped in honor of her great service to the sport as a whole and to the Association.
Moving into business items on the Agenda, Leslie approved the following incoming chairs, and the motion was approved:
A few action items were discussed relating to the USEA Eventing Coaches Program and the USEA Foundation, both of which will be released to the public later this week during Convention.
President of the U.S. Equestrian Federation, Tom O’Mara, provided updates on equestrian sport as a whole in the United States. He noted the many great successes for equestrian sport as a whole this year, including the fact that the U.S. has teams qualified for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France, in dressage, eventing, and jumping. The U.S. had a very successful year at the Pan American Games earlier this fall, with dressage earning team gold and individual bronze, eventing acquiring team silver and individual gold, and jumping bringing home team gold and individual silver and bronze.
O’Mara noted that USEF membership continues to trend favorably with 477,055 members total to date; 80,623 of those being competing members. The number of USEF-licensed competitions in 2023 held steady in line with 2022 figures and is within 8.4% of the pre-pandemic total of 2,307 with a grand total of 2,128 USEF-licensed competitions in 2023. He covered several other USEF-specific improvements that the organization has made to better serve equestrian sport as a whole in the coming season.
The first meeting of the Board of Governors came to a close, but 41 USEA Committee meetings will take place across the next several days of Convention to continue to discuss Association matters, improvements, and future proposals to the Board. The Board of Governors will reunite again on Sunday, Dec. 10 at 9 a.m. and there will be reports from all Committees and Task Forces during the Sunday meeting.
Don't forget to follow the USEA’s event coverage on social media!
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 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention will take place in St. Louis, Missouri, on Dec. 7-10, 2023. 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, Capital Square, D.G. Stackhouse & Ellis, Kerrits, Horse & Country, Nunn Finer, Nutrena, Parker Equine Insurance, Rebecca Farm, RevitaVet, SmartPak, Standlee, and World Equestrian Brands.
The USEA Emerging Athletes U21 (EA21) program was established in 2022 with the aim of creating a pipeline for potential U.S. team riders by identifying and developing young talent and pairing them up with influential educators within the sport of eventing to improve their skills both in and out of the saddle.
Macyn Wolpert and her pony 18-year-old Sport Pony Hallelujah were set to attend the Pine Top Intermediate Horse Trials (Thomson, Georgia) on Feb. 11 with cross-county day happily occurring on Wolpert’s 12th birthday.
There aren’t many riders who can say they competed at five of the world’s seven five-star events in 2023, but the 2023 World Equestrian Brands USEA Rider of the Year Boyd Martin can. With nine starts across the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, Longines Luhmühlen Horse Trials (Germany), Defender Burghley Horse Trials (England), MARS Maryland 5 Star, and Pau (France), Martin earned five top-5 finishes.
The U.S. Equestrian Federation has announced the combinations selected to compete in the 2024 USEF Futures Team Challenge at the Carolina International CCI and Horse Trials, from March 14-17 in Raeford, North Carolina. The Challenge is designed to replicate the experience of competing within a team environment and thus is a training opportunity embedded within an existing competition at the CCI3* and CCI4* levels.