Lexington, Ky.—Dec. 2
Just a couple of weeks ago dressage competitors descended on the Kentucky Horse Park to compete in the U.S. Dressage Finals. On Saturday dressage enthusiasts from across the country gathered a few miles away at the Hyatt Regency hotel for the Adequan/USDF Annual Convention with ideas for future finals fresh in their minds.
During the Board of Governors general assembly meeting a delegate in the audience, Peter Rothschild of Region 6, took the microphone to ask for a motion for the board to form a planning committee for future U.S. Dressage Finals. Rothschild emphasized that he wanted a committee that reported to the Board of Governors in an open meeting, thereby allowing delegates and anyone in attendance at the convention to come forward with questions and concerns.
Another delegate, Janine Malone of Region 1, spoke against the motion and explained that there already was a committee, albeit not required to report to the board, tasked with putting on the finals and to create a second would be overkill and might become confusing as to who had authority where.
A vote on the issue revealed a divided room with the relatively narrow advantage going to the nay votes and the motion failed. However immediately after the failed motion members of the audience took to the microphones to voice their concerns with the finals with particular emphasis on where the finals were held. In the five years the finals have been running they have never been held west of the Mississippi river (the 2018 finals are already scheduled to return to the Kentucky Horse Park).
After listening to several people voice concerns about West Coast riders having access to the final, another motion was proposed that would simply require the existing finals committee to report to the Board of Governors and thereby give people the opportunity to weigh in on factors like location. USDF president George Williams, who led the discussion, agreed this was a reasonable suggestion, and when put to a vote the motion passed easily. Williams was also open to the suggestion that at least one member of that committee should be a West Coast representative.
Other goings on at the Adequan/USDF Annual Convention include:
• Williams announced that USDF will be taking over the training of its licensed officials from U.S. Equestrian. While there will be costs associated with the transfer Williams said it’s an important step in recognizing the importance of affiliate organizations. “This is U.S. Equestrian is recognizing USDF as the expert in its own discipline,” Williams said.
• U.S. chef d’equipe and dressage technical adviser Robert Dover addressed the goals of the high performance dressage teams in the Board of Governors meeting with a presentation entitled “Roadmap To The Top.”
“The aim of the high performance program is to deliver sustainable success at world and games level,” Dover said. “That demands a pathway that identifies talented athletes and horses and supports them as they develop toward the elite standard.” Dover cited a three-tiered pipeline (emerging, developing and elite) to create this pathway, with different USEF and USDF clinics, grants and educational opportunities to be offered at the levels.
• Murray Kessler addressed the Board of Governors general assembly to clarify U.S. Equestrian’s goals when working with its affiliate organizations such as USDF. “Robert talked about winning medals, and I want to win medals too but that’s not the end all, be all for us,” Kessler said. “Our goal is to bring the joy of horse sport to as many people as possible.” To that end Kessler mentioned several new U.S. Equestrian initiatives like fan memberships for people who don’t own horses or ride but would like to follow the sport.
Kessler also noted areas he wants to improve, particularly with how the organization supports para-dressage riders and horses. “I donate every penny of my salary at U.S. Equestrian to para-dressage; it’s an absolutely wonderful program, and it has been neglected,” Kessler said. “We need much better support of those athletes and horses.”
• And let’s not forget about the Salute Gala and Annual Awards banquet! Laura Graves accepted the award for Grand Prix horse of the year for her mount Verdades, and Lilo Fore was inducted into the Roemer Foundation/USDF Hall of Fame.
Check out the Dec. 18 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine for more from the Adequan/USDF Annual Convention.