Like many other things this year, the annual summer meeting of the USEA Board of Governors looked very different in 2020. The 21 Governors spent two days meeting virtually from their homes around the country. This was USEA President Max Corcoran’s first August board meeting at the helm and she opened the call by thanking the Board for their time so far this year as conference calls have been frequent.
“It has been a struggling and soul-searching year,” said Corcoran. “But we have had some good things come out of this year so far – safety initiatives, working a program to increase diversity throughout equestrianism, the USEA Foundation’s frangible technology, and more.”
Diversity and Inclusion
The USEA Board voted to establish a committee to address diversity and inclusiveness in eventing and will work hand-in-hand with an initiative formed by a group of eventers including Dr. Anastasia Curwood, Heather Gillette, and Matt Brown. The Board is excited about the group’s initiative and looks forward to supporting it as it is rolled out.
USEA Foundation and Grants
The USEA Foundation updated the Board with the success of the Broussard Charitable Foundation Trust’s Going Forward USEA Members Grants and remind the members that applications are due September 30, 2020.
A presentation was also given on the USEA Foundation’s Frangible Technology Fund and the great reception of the grant distribution. Approximately $325,000 has been raised so far and with the generous donation from the Manton Foundation, the goal of reaching $500,000 by the end of the year is definitely in reach. Donations can be made to the USEA Foundation here. To date, there have been 116 applications with 90 table kits already distributed. The remaining kits are for competitions occurring in 2021 and will be distributed shortly. Phase 3 of the program is about to be launched with frangible oxers and gates able to be applied for. Many of the tables already built using the grant funds can be viewed here.
Rule Change Proposals
The Board was presented with several changes to consider, both for USEA policies and to put forward to the USEF to be considered for future rule changes. The Board voted to change the way that leaderboard points are tabulated for 2021. The new system will reward quality over quantity and will help ensure equal representation on the leaderboard for riders who compete one horse or five horses.
Two rule change proposals related to safety were passed by the Board. The first would require that open corners are fitted with the latest frangible technology and the second would give a yellow card and $100 fine to anyone refusing concussion evaluations after falling off at a competition. The Board also discussed proposed changes to the national MER system with the addition of licensing riders in order to achieve qualifications to move up. The Board is in favor of the proposal, but the wording and actual requirements need to be fleshed out some more.
The Event Management System
A demonstration of The Event Management System (EMS) which is currently in development by The Jockey Club Technology Services, Inc. in partnership with the USEA was given with Board members having the chance to ask questions about the new system. The Board originally voted to approve developing the EMS in 2019 and the project remains on schedule for a rollout for the 2021 season.
USEA Program Updates
With the postponement of the 2020 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention a new plan needed to be developed and voted on by the Board. A virtual Annual Meeting will be held in 2020 with details forthcoming, while the 2021 Convention will be in Albuquerque, New Mexico (the original location of 2020) from December 9-12. 2021 was originally supposed to be a USEA Eventing Hall of Fame induction year, but the Board has decided to move the Hall of Fame to 2022 in Savannah, Georgia. The 2022 Convention will take place from December 8-11. The Hall of Fame will then resume its three-year cycle.
A new USEA program aimed at middle school and high school eventers will be rolled out in 2021 after the Board approved the guidelines proposed by a special task force. This new program will mirror the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Program and will offer an exciting new competition for junior riders.
A change to the partial year membership passed by the Board with the membership category starting September 1 instead of October 1 just for 2020. Anyone who wants to join the USEA in September can pay a discounted rate of $35 if they join for 2021 at the same time.
In his CEO presentation, Rob Burk shared that full USEA membership numbers are down 878 members from this same date last year, however, Adult Rider program membership is still doing well with a similar number of members to 2019. Starter numbers are also way down as is expected with the months of shut down and competition cancellations.
Businesses and organizations throughout the country are having to take a strong look at their finances, and the USEA is no different with a large portion of the meeting spent taking a hard look at the 2021 budget. The USEA already made a lot of cuts in 2020 and those will continue into 2021 as the Association budgets for a decrease in membership and starters as a conservative approach. USEA staff travel will continue to be reduced, contractual support not renewed, and other measures are being taken to ensure a balanced 2021 budget. The USEA only employs 17 full-time people currently, so operates with a lean staff compared to many other similarly sized membership associations yet the staff also absorbed an overall 5 percent pay cut from the 2020 budget.
In order to help meet the 2021 budget requirements, the USEA Board voted to increase the cost of limited horse registration to $75 and Future Event Horse registration to $50. Both of these increases will take effect for the 2021 membership year. The cost of upgrading from limited to full registration will be reduced as a result as the full registration price remains unchanged. A $20 non-member fee will also be added for anyone participating in a USEA Educational Activity who is not a member. A change to the fee for registering educational activities with the USEA has also been made. Previously if an activity was registered within 10 days there was a $50 late fee. Due to the high volume of late registrations, a $100 fee has been added for activities registered within five days of the scheduled activity.
The USEA Board also discussed selecting USEA as a charity when shopping on smile.amazon.com in order to bolster fundraising efforts.
The USEA Board of Governors will continue to meet virtually until the COVID-19 pandemic allows for a resumption of in-person meetings. This was the final summer Board meeting for Doug Payne, Debra Dealcuaz, Tink Eichell, and Morley Thompson, Jr. as their terms end in December. A new slate will be elected in December in compliance with the USEA by-laws. More information about the USEA Board of Governors is available here.
The USEA is very sad to hear the news of the passing of From, the 28-year-old Russian Thoroughbred gelding (Mif x Floema), owned by Charlotte Harris and ridden by Stephen Bradley.
In less than a year the USEA Foundation, USEA, and a group of passionate stakeholders have managed to raise $500,000 to build frangible fences thanks to donations from USEA members and eventing enthusiasts around the country. This money has gone directly to 116 different USEA recognized events with 151 frangible tables, 53 oxers, and 34 gate/wall fences already out on course – all built with grants distributed by the USEA Foundation.
John R. Pingree a lifelong resident of Hamilton, Mass. passed away Tuesday evening, January 19, 2021, at the age of 87. He was the husband of Dianne (Tuzik) Pingree. Born in Boston, he was the son of the late Sumner A. and Mary (Weld) Pingree. John grew up on Flying Horse Farm, his parents' farm. He graduated from Brooks School before joining the Air Force, where he served from 1952-1956.
The USEA has launched a new system for tabulating points for the year-end leaderboards which will begin with the 2021 competition season. Previously, leaderboard points were awarded based on placing and further determined by the number of starters in a division, often giving the focus to the quantity of rides a competitor could complete in a given competition season.