View Full Version : AHSA & USET

Dec. 27, 2000, 11:06 AM
John Strassberger's editorial on the AHSA and USET debacle is excellent!


He gets to the point - which is more than the future of our teams, it is the future of our sport.

I agree with him wholeheartedly that the USET is a top down organization, and NOT one that can lead us into the 21st century.

We absolutely need a new "umbrella" organization, as suggested previously by Denny Emerson, Jackie Mars, and Jimmy Wofford!

The AHSA has taken the first step and put this idea on the table. The USET has flatly turned it down. The AHSA has taken themselves out of the National Federation picture to MAKE ROOM FOR A NEW ORGANIZATION!!! The USET has turned it down.

Seems to me the USET needs a swift kick!

At at time when horse sports are seriously being considered for ELIMINATION by the International Olympic Committee, do we really want to be represented by an organization that appears to uphold the traditions of exclusivism?

I think not.

If we cannot prove to the IOC the amazing power and GRASSROOTS love for horses and equestrian sports here and around the world, we will lose our place in that esteemed competition.

Tennis was once considered elitist, as was ice skating and skiing. As John pointed out so succinctly, they certainly are not now!

I urge all the members of the committee to start thinking globally rather than defending the status quo. Change is good - change of the sort that has been suggested is really good!

Dec. 27, 2000, 11:06 AM
John Strassberger's editorial on the AHSA and USET debacle is excellent!


He gets to the point - which is more than the future of our teams, it is the future of our sport.

I agree with him wholeheartedly that the USET is a top down organization, and NOT one that can lead us into the 21st century.

We absolutely need a new "umbrella" organization, as suggested previously by Denny Emerson, Jackie Mars, and Jimmy Wofford!

The AHSA has taken the first step and put this idea on the table. The USET has flatly turned it down. The AHSA has taken themselves out of the National Federation picture to MAKE ROOM FOR A NEW ORGANIZATION!!! The USET has turned it down.

Seems to me the USET needs a swift kick!

At at time when horse sports are seriously being considered for ELIMINATION by the International Olympic Committee, do we really want to be represented by an organization that appears to uphold the traditions of exclusivism?

I think not.

If we cannot prove to the IOC the amazing power and GRASSROOTS love for horses and equestrian sports here and around the world, we will lose our place in that esteemed competition.

Tennis was once considered elitist, as was ice skating and skiing. As John pointed out so succinctly, they certainly are not now!

I urge all the members of the committee to start thinking globally rather than defending the status quo. Change is good - change of the sort that has been suggested is really good!

Dementia 13
Dec. 27, 2000, 11:18 AM
Great commentary, and one of the few times I actually agree with John Strassberger.

I would like to pose some general questions. Is the USET an elected body and if so, who votes it in or out? If it is appointed, who appoints the members?

What, if anything, could we do to affect change in this organization?

Dec. 27, 2000, 02:36 PM
I liked the Commentary, but I don't have the Chronicle issue yet to see what the article about the status of the Stratigic Planning Initiative says.

Weatherford or MargeretF, or someone else who has the underlying article, can you summarize it for us?

Dec. 27, 2000, 02:47 PM
Our problem is a systemic one. Those who have worked so hard to be the ones in charge are now in charge and they find it difficult to surrender that sought after authority.

A new organization might be the solution if it's well planned and considers the glitches in both associations to date.

I cannot imagine that anyone desires to be the one who has to maintain the book work and records, particularly those in charge of the USET. As horsemen they want to play with the horses and not the computers and the mailboxes.

In the best of all possible worlds the USET would have the job of finding and preparing the top competitors for international competition. The AHSA has already a bookkkeeping system in place which is already working better than it ever has and if it was properly set up I'm sure most exhibitors would not mind a tax to cover the costs instead of endless fund raisers.

The USET has to learn that us common folks need to feel part of their system if they want total support. Our champions need to understand that for the glory, they owe us a payback of some generosity from their time and energy. You know that magic word "crowd pleasers", well we're the crowd and from us is the source and font of all the glorious sponsorships.

Dec. 27, 2000, 02:50 PM
You and Snowbird always have great information regarding the AHSA and the USET! Thank you. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Dec. 27, 2000, 03:29 PM
Sorry, MargaretF, I intended to answer some of your questions, at least in part.

The USET is a private non-profit corporation, just like the AHSA. It is funded primarily by the donations of its members, and its members are people who donate a certain amount every year. As a member I get notices of its annual meetings and proxy materials every year, but I can't recall offhand whether the proxies were to vote for officers or board members or both.

Here is the USET website that should (I would hope) explain more about what its organization: http://www.uset.com/

I can understand in part why the USET wants to focus only on the upper level atheletes and competitions. After all, that has been its purpose from the beginning, to fund and organize competitors in the FEI disciplines on an international level. But as I understand it there is more that goes into being the NGB than just putting the international teams together and funding them, and I agree that the sport has to grow from the grass roots up. I'd like to see the various proposals made by the USET and by the AHSA members of the SPI Committee.

Dec. 27, 2000, 05:01 PM
Portia the article says (in summary);USET says let USET be #1 w/ full plan by Armond LEone, AHSA says lets come up w/ a plan to have MERGER of AHSA and USET. Each sent 10 representatives.
Straw Vote at end was 10 to 10 for which plan.
My thought is that the grass roots are in another galaxy.
So really who cares any more.
And since when is the Olympic committee the ruling body for horse sports. Why should horse sports revolve around the Olympics? They only come once every 4 yrs, and only a few get to ride.


Dec. 27, 2000, 05:38 PM
Really good point,the Olympics does only come every 4 yrs. And why would we, as the general rank & file, want them telling us what the rules are? They are not our NF. This doesn't look like any answers have been found, only more walls.

Dec. 27, 2000, 06:54 PM
I think we need to look at this issue more globally than just Olympics or just the AHSA or just the USET.

Hence, the concept (suggested on different occassions earlier in the year by Jackie Mars, Denny Emerson, and Jimmy Wofford) of an umbrella, governing organization that would coordinate the now disperse efforts of riding organizations, breed organizations, horse show managements, etc.

This is how it is done in Germany and Ireland, and it appears other countries are restructuring in this fashion. It is not how we are organized.

Linda Allen wrote an interesting article on the future of horse sports for the Equine Journal. In it she says: "Equestrian sport must re-structure, in a way that will meet the USOC requirement of governance by one single organization for all sports (according to the provisions of the Ted Steven's Amateur Sports Act). They've said "no more" to our old ways, the way we've operated since the creation of the term "NGB" way back when. We've had the AHSA to deal with governance stuff (like rule books, drug testing, hearings, licensing officials, and approving competitions), which left the USET free to concentrate on raising money and getting our competitors to the important international competitions, along with creating selection methods and running development programs such as the USET Talent Search. The current Operating Agreement (the one that was hammered out in 1997) removed the previous requirements for AHSA oversight of USET actions in regard to selection of teams and some other matters during this last Quadrennium. But, although it received the blessing of the USOC prior to signing, today's USOC Membership and Credentials Committee feels that this "delegation of authority" between two separate organizations will no longer be accepted and puts our sport out of compliance. There is a Strategic Planning process underway that began in early November. Its mission is to find, jointly, a resolution to the governance issues; one that will satisfy both the USOC and the present and future interests of Equestrian sport. No one knows yet what our future "NGB" will ultimately look like, or be called, but whatever the solution and however it is arrived at, it's going to be far different from what we've always known, and the change is bound to have some affect on everyone in both the USET and the AHSA, not just the elite athletes in the FEI disciplines.

Why should we care about the future of the sport as a whole? Because what is good for the top is good for the bottom, and vice versa. Yes, things were simpler when it was a small community - but it is not any more.

All the various horse organizations are strapped for resources to do the kinds of marketing and promotion that needs to be done. There is no overall, long term focus for breeding and the future of American bred horses. Everyone seems to be working toward different goals, or when working toward the same one, doing it at odds with each other.

Wouldn't you rather be able to find good, well schooled reasonably priced horses here rather than going to Europe (and buying the ones otherwise destined to be "riding school horses" over there is no market in Europe for the 3' and 3'6" horses EXCEPT here in America!)

Wouldn't you like to be able to call up a horse's show record online - regardless of its breed or breed affiliation?

Wouldn't you rather pay one set of dues to a local organization - dues that would filter your membership up to the higher orgs? (As is currently done in the USDF.) Wouldn't it be nice to register your horse ONCE?

These are just SOME of the issues that will be addressed by an umbrella organization.

Not to mention that without the grassroots, bottom up support, the Equestrian sports will be eliminated from the Olympic Games - and while they are only for the cream of the crop, and they are only four years, they remain the pinnacle of our sport.

Dec. 27, 2000, 08:15 PM
They are only the pinacle if they represent us as riders and horses who have worked their way up through the ladder.

I agree that the USET cannot and probably doesn't want to represent us. It is time for a change and I think this is the year to get it done right. The USET has always had one mission and that was to field a team of the best horses and riders. They certainly need help to feed those who are the best into their system.

Dec. 28, 2000, 05:03 AM
"All the various horse organizations are strapped for resources to do the kinds of marketing and promotion that needs to be done."

Ahem...EXCEPT for that wonderful monolith known as the American Quarter Horse Association.

I just have to interject into this debate the fact that OUR sports are actually in THE MINORITY when it comes to horse sports, friends. Where do you think the reiners stand on the whole AHSA-USET issue, do you suppose?

I think the problem with USOC is as it should be: they're confused and concerned by the exclusivity of "our" sports, maybe because USOC itself has been under the microscope lately. Money keeps horse sports in the Olympics right now, in spite of their less-than-the-Olympic-spirit tradition. But perhaps USOC recognizes that there needs to be more than mullah for it's OWN decisions to hold up under public scrutiny and hence it's more particular attention to us now.

EVERYONE (every non-profit organization who may find itself in the public's eye) needs to be much, much more CAREFUL about how things LOOK these days. It's just taking AHSA and USET a lot longer to accept that fact and figure out what to do about it, IMO.

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Dec. 28, 2000, 08:41 AM
It sounds to me as though we should be looking back at the British Horse Society's way of doing things, but with some U.S. updates!

I nominate Snowbird and Weatherford for Co-Executives, with Portia as legal advisor. Wynn should be in charge of PR. Put Mars, Wofford and Emerson on the Board of Directors. Jr. Reps to be chosen from this BB, and discipline reps from the Dressage and Eventing boards. Endurance, reining, H/J and Western disciplines to each have one rep. Each breed association to name one rep.

I'd then let you guys decide whether you care to permit AHSA and USET to operate, and with what restrictions and methods of accountability.

Dec. 28, 2000, 09:53 AM
Along the same lines as what Weatherford quotes above, there is another article by Linda Allen in the new Horse Show, on the last page. Linda again emphasizes that extreme change is inevitable, coming fast, and people are going to have to face up to that fact regardless of their own vested interests. While she says it very politely, I believe it is meant to be a kick in the butt to some of those "in charge."

If the USOC/IOC is/are requiring a single umbrella organization to govern, fund, select, and mount equestrian teams for the FEI disciplines, I don't know how the USET thinks it will be able to do that on its own. It certainly isn't set up to provide governance to the sport as a whole.

I can understand that the USET wants to focus only on the FEI disciplines -- the AHSA has so many breeds and disciplines under its umbrella that it's completely unwieldy -- but is the USET's idea that it would govern the FEI disciplines at all levels, or only at the international levels?

If the USET wants to govern the FEI disciplines at all levels, then what do we do about the hunters? Afer all, hunters are definately not an FEI discipline. Do they think we can just have jumper shows that they would govern? Or that at one show the hunters would be governed by the AHSA and the jumpers by the USET? Same question with respect to Western and breed shows that have reining and every other Western discipline?

And if the idea is that the sport is supposed to function under the AHSA at every level below international competition, with the USET governing the FEI-level stuff, how is that supposed to work? Who would govern those shows that have a couple of GPs and a Nations Cup class that are international qualifiers, but also have a couple hundred kids on their pony hunters? Are all of the big GPs and Nations Cup classes supposed to be moved to separate competitions?

I hate to say it since I have qualms about the governance of both organizations, but it seems to me a merger -- accompanied by extensive review of existing policies and practices -- may be the practical solution.

Dec. 28, 2000, 11:08 AM
Boy! would I love to be on that planning committee. I think it is absolutely true that a merger into a new association is an inevitable result to solve the USOC dilemma. I agree with Wynn that there are certainly better ways to manage this sport then what we have. I also think that hunters and jumpers must be separated if they are to each develop programs to maximize each discipline.

What we are facing is simply the fact that those "in charge" all have a personal perspective from only their own point of view and that there must be a broader view with the latitude for each to seek support from those within the discipline as to projected programs.

Those in the USET are only concerned with ways to create a venue for honing the skills of the very best and most talented in Grand Prix quality jumpers. I don't think they have even a tolerance for the unrecognized jumpers that fill so many shows. They certainly don't have any appreciation for the 3'0" jumper divisions. But, if there were a Jumper Association and they had the opportunity to help create the various rungs on the ladder that sifted through the competitors they would be delighted.

That would clearly correspond to all of our previous discussions on the proper way to rank horse shows. They should be rated by the level of difficulty and not on money awarded.

The hunters on the other hand need a total re-definition. Although not an international discipline it is a way to preserve the hunter we all love and as open land and land preserved for the use of horses keeps shrinking we need the shows as a motivation to keep the style going. The limited space of the show ring can be made more interesting and challenging. We might even bring back the rolling cross-country outside course.

The hunter is our link to the historical traditions that have kept the horse mainstream. We should build on that history and tradition. The fact is that of all the horses used for pleasure in this country many are used for trail rides and pure recreation. There must be room for everyone under the umbrella of the new association.

And you Wynn have it just right. No one group has the finances and expertise to promote on it's own it's own discipline. There certainly should be committees that are not generic specific and can deal with the problems and needs of the "horse" sport so as to rebuild a general public interest in the values of this sport for "ALL ECONOMIC GROUPS" and "ALL LEVELS" and "ALL STYLES".

This was the original intention of the AHSA Planning Committee. It just got all mucked up when it tripped over the vested personal interests and old incestuous business relationships that were built up over the past 100 years.

I sure agree that a committee of those of us who have not been infected by the old system could look objectively down the line. If that were possible I think that there are more things that we agree with, than those with which we would disagree.

The right structure properly thought out and debated would eliminate all the future "personality" conflicts that have so far prevented any progress. It needs to be done out in the public forum and not behind closed doors.

Dec. 28, 2000, 12:58 PM
Although I have sent the USET money (primarily in memory of a young rider who aspired to be on the team killed in a riding accident), I have declined to be a member of the USET because I never felt the organization represented me.

The AHSA and USCTA govern the shows I compete in and although I may have my opinion about how one of the organizations operates, I do understand the necessity of such organizations. These organizations standardize a sport across a very big country.

I understand how selfish it sounds, but there is nothing in the USET for me and I told it as much in a posting I made a couple of years ago in its guestbook. I will never be an international rider or even own a horse that will have a international rider. But I participate as much as I can in a very expensive sport and I do support charitable causes outside the equestrian world.

I think an umbrella organization would be a more efficient use of money, membership, officials, etc. Separate arms of the organization could be devoted to things such as building/fielding teams for international competition, regulating standards for shows across the country, fund-raising, etc.

Hope this makes sense. I've had a lot of interruptions since I started this. I think we all agree that something needs to be done. We need somebody with a good grasp of the big picture to do it -- not the existing operators who are too concerned about guarding their special interests.

Dec. 28, 2000, 01:12 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> If we cannot prove to the IOC the amazing power and GRASSROOTS love for horses and equestrian sports here and around the world, we will lose our place in that esteemed competition. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Very well said. I have gotten to travel internationally quite a bit. It absolutely amazes me how horses are marveled over in European nations. Famous horses and riders are national figures over there. Do you think the average person on a New York street would know who Todd Minikus is? No, but we as a riding community admire him immensely.

Dec. 28, 2000, 03:24 PM
So we want a new organization, isn't that what the NHJC is? And that is taking major hits at the moment. Please don't get me wrong, I am not saying that it's the one. But what makes anyone think another org. would be different? The time and energy that these consume, doesn't leave room for much of a life. Especially one where you have to earn a full time living. Can anyone here state that they have at least 20-30 hrs per week to donate? Snowbird, Weatherford, Pwynn? Anyone? Not me, that's for sure. In order for any new committee to be effective, alot of man hours are going to be needed.

Pwynn had a statement up, for the hoity-toity elitist, Olympic sports. Have to agree with her!! Till we change the constitution, thinking etc...another new org is going to be just that. No one at this point can even begin to see a merger between the AHSA & USET. Yes, it is needed. Will it happen, I wouldn't count on it.

Changing the rules to reflect the needs of the members, as both Snowbird, Portia and Pwynn have been working on seems to be the most constructive by far.

Dec. 28, 2000, 05:46 PM
What we have done is necessary in the current plan. BUT it is like putting bandaids on a cut artery.

If this were a perfect world, I would love to start from scratch with a proper chain of authority and delegation of responsibility and duties. I would love to be able to see the round pegs in the round holes. i.e. find out what someone does well and then give them that job.

I think that we waste so much time on turf wars that nothing constructive is ever accomplished. Then after the fact we run around trying to modify for those that are already indignent so there is no time left to do anything new.

If this were the best of all worlds the USET would be in charge of all jumper competition. They would know how to design courses that could be rated by skill level rather than money. They would design the events that would qualify our team and horses. These would be spectator treasures and a showcase to encourage new riders and owners and horsemen to try and compete.

The Council needs to be not only made democratic but it also needs to be limited to the hunters and hunter seat equitation. It should relate to all the state associations in each and every state and identify the direction needed to improve all the things we know are wrong with our competitions. Maybe they could find new ways to make the beauty, the heart and the grace of our hunters mean more to the public.

The AHSA should be the marketing and PR committee dealing with all the generic attitudes of the public to develop a system of sponsors based on the support of the grass roots supporters who would then be the spectators at events that were so special we wanted to attend. Maybe they could find a sponsor for a $25,000 annual scholarship for a National Junior winner.

I would love to design an organizational tree that meets the specifications of the USOC and all the rest of us so that the USOC won't ever consider dropping horses.

So many associations offer hunter divisions and jumper divisions wouldn't it be great if they were all a welcome part of our overall hunter council and jumper council. What if pleasure horses really found a place to belong?

[This message was edited by Snowbird on Dec. 28, 2000 at 07:56 PM.]

Dec. 28, 2000, 09:17 PM
From what I have seen and heard, the "new organization" would not just be a new AHSA - but a true umbrella org for all American horse activities.

New constitution, new bylaws, new org chart.

Bye bye AHSA as we know it, hello an org that treats H/J's the way the AHSA treats D & CT - that is somewhat autonomously.

With a separate arm for international riders, and one for breeding & incentive programs

One for marketing and D&M...

So we CAN concentrate on what is important to us as hunter/jumper people - and not have to worry about the Dressage rules or the reining rules or whatever.

This is still in very very rough form, but, as I have said, I think it is the only answer.

And perhaps Jumpers do need to be separated from the hunters, but that is a long term question.

Dec. 28, 2000, 09:26 PM
Perhaps, the motivation is finally here.

It sounds wonderful to me. I would love to see the chain of the authority. I have thought for a long time that since the various breeds all offer the various disciplines there needed to be way to coordinate the rules and purposes. I mean really what is the difference between a Morgan hunter, a Warmblood hunter or even a Quarterhorse hunter?

One of the best jumpers we ever had was a little mare called Sahara T'abu a half Arab. It sounds like there is a way if good men can soften their hearts.

Dec. 29, 2000, 06:30 AM
They may be bandaids, IF they get passed it will be a step. And that's more than we have had for a long time!
The new type of org. that Weatherford speaks of would be very good. But it too, is a long way off. And if, as with our own government, the current regime changes, so will their plans.
I firmly believe that the mentality we have created needs to change. Inhouse fighting being a thing of the past. If & when that occurs, we WILL get the organization so desperately needed by all of the members, not a select few.

Dec. 29, 2000, 07:47 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> It absolutely amazes me how horses are marveled over in European nations. Famous horses and riders are national figures over there. Do you think the average person on a New York street would know who Todd Minikus is? No, but we as a riding community admire him immensely. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

But this raises a perplexing question, and to me, even heightens the urgency surrounding this USET/AHSA/USOC debacle...

Everything I have read/heard seems to indicate that in European countries, riding is very popular, in some instances has state funding, generally pulls in big crowds and sponsorship, and appears to have a very good grassroots movement to bring it down to everyone, so to speak. Right? Am I missing anything here?

Whereas we in the US have an extremely healthy (economically speaking) horse/showing culture (perhaps a tad more diverse, discipline-wise), but have next to no luck in attracting sponsors (hence the reason why showing is more of a wealthy person's sport), and for various reasons, seem to be more hit or miss on the world competition level. Again, am I missing anything here?

Well, here we are talking about fixing the NGB situation, and this whole situation, not to mention our lack of grassroots support, endangering the equestrian sports status in the olympics. Vitally important issues, IMHO... But here's the thing... it isn't the USOC which would pull equestrian sports from the games, it's the IOC. Well, if this sport has so much support (grassroots and government) in European countries, then WHY would the complete chaos of the American system hurt ANYONE other than us? Why would it even threaten to endanger the olympic sport itself?

I am honestly curious about this. Unfortunately, I suspect that grassroots movements and sponsorship be damned - there are still larger issues between equestrian sports and the IOC - which I do not understand (obviously) and would LOVE to understand. Given that, I suspect it is even more vital that they get their s**t together, and start working with the FEI and IOC in order to ensure their future.

Dec. 29, 2000, 08:58 AM
There are HUGE, HUGE differences between AQHA hunters, AHSA hunters, Morgan hunters and Arab hunters. Huge!

And those differences illustrate why an umbrella organization for ALL horse sports probably would never fly--and perhaps wouldn't even be necessary.

Why not concentrate on the discipline ("sport," that is) rather than the breed? As it is now, as and I suspect it virtually has to stay, those who seek to compete exclusively again their breed, with their breed's standards (the critical factor), can do so, while those who seek more "generic" competition, choose AHSA, local or (I suppose) international.

The American Horse Sports Association?

And you know what? I think that name change would/could also signal a VERY important philosophical change from a "show" oriented organization to a "sport" oriented one.

In addition, a "sport"-oriented structure could force a change upon the committee and decisionmaking structure as well. There would be major committees for each sport, with subcommittees (reporting to the major committees) for each division. Two additional subcommittees for each major committee would "national" and "international" subcommittees which would oversee zones, awards and representation abroad.

Then there would be "super" committees--in this dreamland I'm creating--which would oversee issues which effect ALL of the sports: drugs and meds, international issues (perhaps this one would be comprised solely of the chairs of the subcommittees), licensing of officials, legislations, communications, etc. I'm getting some of these ideas from the way the US Congress is set up, of course, and as with the regular committees, most of the super committees would have subcommittees as well--such as public relations, marketing and publications within the communications committee; elections and rule changes within the legislations committee; etc.

Leading the super committees--I would propose--should be professionals or qualified experts in those areas, and they should be PAID positions. Call them chief counsels or whatever, but they should have a vote equal to that of the committee chair and they should have staff, which would also provide labor-support for the committee (the regular committees wouldn't need staff or could share the executive director's staff). Except for the professional counsel, the seats on the super committees should be open to all members and competitive, based on qualifications, campaigning and an association-wide vote (with significant terms, like 4-6 years, so there wouldn't be so much upheaval all the time).

The problem right now is that membership on committees is really too often based on vested interest and who-you-know, not on capability or objectivity. I realy, really think that if those seats were filled COMPETITIVELY, rather than by appointment, the entire organization would be much more effective.

As to the regular committees, I think they, too, should be elected--but the chairs should be chosen based on seniority, like Congress, to ensure continuity and also responsiveness to member-constituents. (So, if your constituents like what you are doing for them, you stay on the committee and eventually gain seniority, where you can really have an impact. If you screw up such that someone else runs against you, you risk losing your seat and your power.)

Well, that certainly was a fun excursion into la-la land.

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Dec. 29, 2000, 09:35 AM
OH! YES! wtywmn we do need the bandaids because it will be a while until the organizational structure
can be designed and implemented. Meanwhile we don't want the patient to die waiting. Yes, the changes we recommended need to be proposed and considered in this present environment and I totally agree that you are right.

Wynn the fact is that in hunters we are supposed to be judging soundness and performance regardless of breed. A Morgan horse or and Arab should still be judged on their performance to the objective standard. I have had both and both competed successfully in the open classes.

The discrimination between hunters in any breed should be the same. Now, you might have the best Morgan in hunter and it won't be as smooth and arc easily making changes and having the forward direct and agressive attack of the fence of some other breeds, but it cam be the best of it's own. Just another rung on the ladder, and another way to divide the sections.

I would see the primary level in this "dream" association for the disciplines, and the next step would be the sub-divisions. Not unlike our old maiden,novice concept with new definition. A horse can be the very best maiden win the division and still not be ready to go into open, but it could move on to the novice level.

Then maybe an end of the year ride-off between the best hunter of each breed to see which meets the highest standard. I think that what we have now in hunters and one of our problems is that the hunters are more like unregistered mongrels, that discourages the American Breeding industry so that we can have great American Bred Sport horses.

I think the success of the Quarterhorse is largely based on their appendix program. Here all the cross-breds can be registered and the breeding prefix is a legitimate label.

I'm not convinced that making someone an employee is necessarily an improvement. I know that I have dedicated many hours for free to many associations and was glad to do so because by not being paid I could afford to maintain my principles and not be concerned about supporting myself. If it's a job then you are prone to want to protect your personal territory.

I think electing delegates for committees is a good idea. The amateurs could be organized and be represented by their delegates who then would be the pool from which an executive committee was selected. The same for show management and professional trainers who should be certified by an affiliation with the base organization predicated on minimum standards of experience and knowledge established. Once that is in place you can again sub-divide by riding levels and interests.

Dec. 29, 2000, 10:15 AM
I've been doing some reading about the situation, though still without a lot of details. As I understand it, if the AHSA and USET do not come to an agreement, then the decision is entirely in the hands of the USOC, at least initially -- then it goes to arbitration.

The Strategic Planning Initiative discussions are supposed to continue through February. In late February or early March the USOC committee will meet to discuss the issue of the NGB, and at that point it has at least two choices: (1) the AHSA remains the NGB and runs everything regarding international level FEI-discipline competition, and the USET ceases to have a reason for existence, or (2) the USET is the NGB and cuts everything related to international level FEI disciplines away from the AHSA, leaving the AHSA with no international portfolio and governance of horse sports very much split. I don't know whether the USOC has a third choice -- that is, the power to require the creation of a new organization to start from scratch. Either organization can then challenge the USOC decision in arbitration which, lest anyone have any doubts, is just another form of full blown litigation and can be just as lengthy and just as expensive.

The AHSA is proposing some form of merger resulting in the creation of a new organization to govern horse sports. In for-profit corporate mergers and other forms of affiliations, there are lots of incentives for management to agree to the deal and give up power voluntarily -- boost stock prices, gain bonuses, trigger golden parachutes. But here we're talking about two largely volunteer, non-profit corporations where the only incentive to merge or otherwise create a new organization and give up power is that it would be good for the sport as a whole. The organizations are run by people who are used to wielding huge amounts of power in their private business lives, to whom voluntarily relinquishing power without significant economic incentive is seldom an option.

Why did the AHSA propose the SPI and why is it willing to propose a merger or the creation of a new organization? The cynic in me says it's because there's a real possibility that the USOC might award NGB status to the USET -- the USET currently does a great deal related to mounting our international teams, although until recent years it did all that only under the management of the AHSA and it still has to report and consult with the AHSA under the agreement between them.

The non-cynic adds that it seems there are people at the AHSA who truly do not want to see governance of the sport split, with the head cut from the body, who want to avoid expensive litigation, and who want to erase the substantial tensions between the organizations instead of creating a situation in which they will exist forever.

So it is in the AHSA's best interests to change and it seems to be proposing just that, a solution to the pending crises that would result in signficant change to both organizations for the good of the sport.

But why should the USET want to change if it thinks it has the inside track with the USOC? Is the fact that it will be the best thing for the sport enough? Or are there other reasons it may not be sufficiently taking into account -- such as the message its intransigence and "my way is the only way" attitude sends to the USOC and to its own membership, upon whom it depends so heavily for donations?

If the AHSA and USET could truly create a new organization, that would be wonderful. But it will take some real statemanship and willingness to sacrifice to achieve. The parties have to be willing to give up power and vested interests to achieve the goal for the good of the sport. The question is, can they and will they rise to the challenge? I'm seeing it in the AHSA, but what about the USET? And is there an effective way we can let them know that this is what we, their members, want to achieve?

JMHO. of course.

I went back and edited this message after reading some of the things recently posted at the AHSA and the USET site. See my posts below.

[This message was edited by Portia on Jan. 02, 2001 at 12:10 PM.]

Dec. 29, 2000, 01:46 PM
In my heart of hearts Portia I know you speak the truth. Your insights or should say, working knowledge of this type of merger tells me, we will not win. All the breeds now have their individual org. which in essence can represent them,if there's a merger.

Possibly some of the bandaids will save this patient. Hopefully, for a better fight in the future.

Dec. 29, 2000, 02:28 PM
OH! Portia you said it all and I will pray that the New Year gives us what would be the best.
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>If the AHSA and USET could truly create a new organization, that would be
wonderful. But it will take some real statemanship and willingness to sacrifice to
achieve. The parties have to be willing to give up power and vested interests to
achieve the goal for the good of the sport. The question is, can they and will
they rise to the challenge? And is there an effective way we can let them know
that this is what we, their members, want to achieve?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

There is still hope, we have a month to let them them know what we all think is best. So limber up those fingers and start sending your email.

Dec. 31, 2000, 09:24 AM
These are the people to whom you need to express your views:

Kent Allen, Linda Allen, Richard Brown, Robert Dover, John H. Fritz, C. Michael Huber, Laura Kraut, Armand Leone, Jr, Abigail Lufkin, Kathy Meyer, George Morris, David O�Connor, Jessica Ransehousen, Lori Rawls, Betsy Steiner, Karen Stives, Eric Straus, Chester Weber, John J. P. Weir, Elisabeth Williams, James C. Wofford

You might have to do web searches for the email addy's or check the AHSA & USET web sites.

Jan. 1, 2001, 03:11 PM
I checked the AHSA site and they have recently posted materials regarding the situation with the USOC and USET that I, at least, found very informative. These consist of some reports, correspondence, the texts of USOC Constitution and Bylaws, and the text of the Amateur Sports Act. Go to the front page of the AHSA site and click on the box on the right margin titled "Equestrian Governance, Strategic Planning, USOC." http://www.ahsa.org/

I don't want or expect the AHSA or USET to tell us everything that is going on. As any lawyer and anyone involved in business knows, there are many good reasons to keep a level of confidentiality concerning ongoing discussions and negotiations. However, I think the AHSA has taken a good step toward allowing the membership to assess the situation for themselves. It would be helpful if the USET would do so also, because I continue to find it very difficult to understand the reasons for its position beyond what, on the surface at least, appears to be self-interest and resistance to change.

Jan. 2, 2001, 10:09 AM
Well, I checked the USET site and they do have some information there. The materials include a memo by Armand Leone broadly summarizing the history leading to the SPI, a USET PowerPoint presentation o"the USET-AHSA Governance of Equestrian" generally summarizing the history of the situation up to creation of the SPI, and the USET Position Paper. You will need Word and PowerPoint to download and print these materials. Here's the link to the SPI page on the USET Site: http://www.uset.com/html/spi.html

Unfortunately, the USET Position Paper speaks only in broad generalities and does not answer many of the questions raised on this thread. Its description of what it proposes is the following:

"8. The USET seeks to continue the responsibilities and services it has successfully provided the sport of equestrian for the last 50 years and undertake all of the responsibilities for the functions of the National Federation, wihtout unnecessary oversight or interference from the AHSA. The USET has fulfilled the NGB mission with a structured staff covering the six international disciplines with over 45 years of experience in the areas of international sport administration and international games preparation.

9. There is a need to eliminate bifurcation of international responsibilities, because the present relationship creates artificial oversight constraints on teh USET resulting in needless bureaucracy, overlapping staff positions, inefficient and cumbersome sports administration, confusion for athletes, and difficulty with sponsors -- all at a considerable financial cost to the USET, the AHSA, the athletes and ultimately to the USOC.

10. The USET believes that the logical solution to this controversy is to allow the USET to continue its mission to fund and support U.S atheletes in international equestrian competitions and to assume the international administrative functions currently being handled by the AHSA. This will create more efficient organizational structure for our international athletes and ultimate success.

11. The AHSA should continue to provide all of the services that benefit the national breed and discipline organizations such as the Equine Drugs and Medications Program, Rule Enforcement and Hearing Procedures, Competition Date Allocation, Licensing of National Officials, National and Regional Awards Programs and Competitions Department -- all of which are areas where the AHSA has proven its expertise.

12. Hearings and Grievances concerning "Protected Competitions" would be conducted under the auspices of the USET; hearings and grievance[s] concerning all other matters would be conducted under the auspices of the AHSA."

What I personally would like to see is some discussion of how as a practical matter the USET sees its proposal operating, and answer some of the questions raised earlier such as whether and how it plans to govern those portions of shows that have international classes while leaving the rest to the AHSA.

Jan. 2, 2001, 11:33 AM
What concerns me most is HOW are TWO organizations going to be able to AFFORD to remain separate into this new millenium?

What happens when the handful of big donors and/or big owners decide they are not going to finance one or the other of these organizations? (And two of the biggest USET contributors have been turning their interests elsewhere!)

What about the little people who have been totally offended and turned off by fund-raising efforts and other things at the USET?

How do we finance the future?

Can a new organization take the best of both worlds as well as the best that hasn't been included to truly do what needs to be done? (As is done in other countries?)

How do we communicate these needs to the grass roots of our industry as well as the top levels?

Jan. 2, 2001, 01:15 PM
One of the reasons the USET gives for not wanting a merger/new organization is because it would lose "brand recognition" and therefore impair fund raising efforts. Frankly, if I were the USET I'd be a lot more worried about impairing fund raising efforts by offending the grass roots who open our pocketbooks to it so regularly.

While the USET has always dealt with the top echelons of the sport, it always seemed to me that it was part of the structure created by the AHSA that served the grass roots, just another branch of that structure. Now apparently it wants to entirely divorce itself from the lower levels of the sport and govern and serve only the "elite." (And I shudder to think what that position do for the public image of a sport that is already widely perceived as elitist.)

What strikes me is that every one of the goals the USET says in its Position Statement it wants to achieve by being designated the NGB can be far more effectively achieved by a merger with the AHSA -- economies of scale, avoiding redundancy of personnel and operations, better communications, avoidance of confusion, reduction of tensions between the organizations, etc.

If the USET rejects the opportunity to be part of a single organization to serve the sport as a whole in favor of reserving itself to the elite, what effect will that have on fund raising? Maybe it has enough corporations and multi-millionaires who are ready to donate enough to pay for its operations, but I doubt it can do it without the rest of us.

I'm starting to think that the USET can be as elite as it wants to be, but it had better be prepared for the backlash.

Bethe Mounce
Jan. 2, 2001, 02:07 PM
increasing the AHSA "drug" fee from $8 to $10 of which $2 will go right to the USET to fund horse transportation costs and other related horse costs.

Right now, I have a choice whether to support the USET or not. I also have a choice on what discipline I choose to support within the USET.

If this fee does increase, then I have no choice if I am showing at AHSA sanctioned shows. So, does this mean that only competitors at AHSA sanctioned events/shows will be aiding in funding the USET?

And in my opinion, one national federation that oversees all the disciplines in an umbrella like fashion is the answer..........

There would be:
A board of directors made up of 1 representative from each discipline so that everyone is equally represented would be the umbrella.

Then each discipline would have it's own head mare (sorry, am meaning to be funny here) that oversees the administration and other ins and outs of the respective discipline.

I understand that the strategic planning group will have something in place by Feb 1?

Sure would like to see minutes of those meetings or a status report of where they stand........

Jan. 2, 2001, 02:20 PM
Thunbs down to the additional charge, as mentioned by Bethe.

For those against it, it is critical that you go to the AHSA web site and voice your opinion!

Will provide the link when I can.

[This message was edited by Weatherford on Jan. 02, 2001 at 06:57 PM.]

Jan. 2, 2001, 02:22 PM
It should be noted that the AQHA is somewhat different than the AHSA. The AQHA controls the breeding industry of the horses participating in their shows. I guess I would have to think further on the implications of this, but it does foster kind of a "one mindset" amongst the people involved in the QH industry. Shows are exclusive to QHs and the horse must be registered with the AQHA to participate, be eligible for the incentive fund, futurities, etc. I won't argue though, that the AQHA does it right. I've been a lifetime member for 30 years or so. They are highly effective and organized. Very little disention among the troops. Perhaps organizations such as the AHSA could learn something, but I doubt they'd listen.

Jan. 2, 2001, 04:27 PM
I doubt they would listen Lillian. The AQHA used to be a member of the AHSA many ions ago. They decided to leave for many reasons. One being to give them more say so in their breeding program. Actually, think we discussed how some of the rules could be used to benefit the AHSA on a previous thread.

Money seems to be the only thing anyone listens to. The egos involved in both org. are tremendous. So possibly, we have to hit the very bottom before a new regime can raise it's head. We all have been fighting these battles for a very long time. Not quite to the extreme we now are. Truthfully, I see nothing but impasses.

Jan. 5, 2001, 06:47 PM
Some interesting information on the AHSA website:


Since there is a meeting on Tuesday, there is sure to be more to come.

Jan. 6, 2001, 09:01 AM
The reason why I think some important committees should be headed by paid positions is because #1.) you have to pick them on the basis of their expertise, #2.) you can dictate what their job duties are and #3.) you can FIRE them if they don't do their jobs.

None of which can be done with the committee chairs currently. Just look at how the Zones are governed.

[Snowbird, there's no way breeds could or should compete against each other in hunters, IMO. It would be borderline on cruelty to expect an Arab or Morgan to carry themselves in the same way or do the distances of the AHSA hunter--or, heaven forbid, put their heads down as low as the AQHA hunter! Poor babies! Hunters are about form, after all, and different breeds (as a group, not as individuals) are just conformed too differently to ever compete against the same standard.]

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Specializing in fancy, athletic, 3/4-TB ponies.
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Jan. 6, 2001, 01:14 PM
The AHSA Annual Meeting is this week and it should be interesting. I don't know how much of the USET situation will be discussed -- well, discussed in public that is. I'm sure it will be a topic of intense discussion in private!

I still would like to get answers to the questions of how the USET proposal would work as a practical matter. Maybe we will learn more after the next SPI meeting.

Frankly, the more I think about it, the more I am oppposed to having the two separate organizations running different aspects of the same sport, and the more I would like to see a new organization to move into the future as the AHSA has proposed.

Jan. 6, 2001, 06:13 PM
Well Wynn that's the whole point as you said an employee can be told what to do and how to do it. That's just fine for data and filing but in other capacities I prefer the free thinker and creative innovator who volunteers and does it for a good cause. The best people who have guided this sport through the associations did it for free.

The real problem is how to eliminate those who are incompetent but can buy their position.

Well, the point is that like the dog shows which make prime time regularly, you would start with a standard within each breed. Then the leaders of each breed would compete as per a best of show.

The problem is the create the proper definitions for a hunter. Did you know that in the southeast the hunters were all saddlebreds? They were superb at the job. Maybe the style was different but they got the job done safely and well. While we in the northeast are hooked on the English Hunt and pattern our aspect of the sport from that in the south they didn't reverence the english.

We make an assumption that what we do is the proper and only best, but for many the style is quite different so what if the style was not the issue but the purpose was the issue. Down south the hunt was not organized so elegantly by the gentry with whipper-in and protocol and their target was raccoon which was eaten and not just killed. Coon tails are still considered for decoration and trophies. Our consideration should be the suitability for purpose.

Hunting is actually a time honored sport using horses for so many purposes. Out west I'm sure the predators were more dangerous coyotes and mountain cats. How about a fresh approach and then measure somehow the suitability for the purposes needed. That's where it might be possible to value competition between the breeds for "hunters". Courage, safety, dependability and intelligence vrs. beauty and style.

Granted the western flatlands didn't need the agility over fences but strength and courage. I'm sure that ditch jumps, mountain climbing and such would add a great deal of excitement to our competition. Why do we limit ourselves to the "english" hunt patterns and not design an American hunter?

Our fences and courses have gotten boring. If we're going to make change let's make it a real change. Bull riding, reining and rodeo have done very well because they are exciting. Perhaps, we should lose some of the english "stiff upper lip" conservatism. Perhaps, now is the time to think NEW.

Rituals for their own sake seem hollow. Think about some kind of competition for the west against the north and the south as leagues. Challenges to see which is best the fox hunter, the coon hunter or the cat hunter.

[This message was edited by Snowbird on Jan. 06, 2001 at 08:19 PM.]

Jan. 10, 2001, 09:09 AM
Check the AHSA web site to read more about the SPI. http://www.ahsa.org/EquestrianGovernance/index.html

There are several new letters and informational articles posted which are very interesting. The NGB Fact Sheet is of primary importance, and the letter from Alan Balch to Armand Leone also interesting.

They will be posting news from yesterday's meeting later.

Jan. 11, 2001, 05:32 PM
AHSA & USET Press Release

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> STRATEGIC PLANNING INITIATIVE HOLDS THIRD MEETING

The members of the Equestrian Strategic Planning Initiative met yesterday in Colorado Springs, CO, at the United States Olympic Training Center. After much fruitful discussion it was agreed that there were two viable proposals, which have been developed to satisfy the governance issue with which the sport is faced. It was decided to take both proposals to the Boards of the American Horse Shows Association (AHSA) and the United States Equestrian Team (USET) and to seek the input of these Boards on the differences and potentials for convergence. Our joint efforts toward the creation of U.S.A. Equestrian continues. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Jan. 14, 2001, 08:45 AM
A few days ago the USET issued a press release that basically said the same things the AHSA said in their original NOVEMBER proposal.

Yes, we need a new federation - but not with the USET running it! IMHO! Nor the ASHA, for that matter!

Here is a link to some information:


There is also a link on to press releases on the USET web site:


Jan. 14, 2001, 09:14 AM
Oops, I've been away from the internet for a while and didn't see this thread until after I started a topic which really belongs here...how many other threads are there also covering this territory?

I'm unable to cut and paste into the reply boxes for some reason, but I really dislike twenty duplicate threads on the same subject, so if someone can consolidate the info on my topic, please do so!

Jan. 14, 2001, 09:21 AM
This is the NGB Fact Sheet issued before the last meeting. I apologize for its length.

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

1. Federal Law dictates that every sport that is represented in Olympic Games must be governed by an organization that the US Olympic Committee (USOC) recognizes as the National Governing Body (NGB). The same organization is also a member of the international federation for the sport, representing the USA as its National Federation (NF).

2. One, and only one, organization may be so designated by the USOC for each Olympic sport.

3. The NGB must be responsible for all disciplines within that sport recognized by their International Federation (for equestrian sport, the FEI); it may also include other national programs, and must recognize qualified Affiliate Sports Organizations.

4. The USOC Constitution outlines the duties and responsibilities of the NGB. This document also makes clear that matters central to the governance of the sport may not be delegated to any other organization.

5. Areas of duties, responsibilities, and authority for a sport include:
a. Demonstrating the organizational and financial ability to fulfill governance.
b. Responsibility for creation, distribution, and enforcement of National Rules, including Hearing and Grievance processes for handling issues of rule violations or unfairness to athletes.
c. Sanctioning of National competitions and coordination of the competition calendar.
d. Sanctioning of all National Championships.
e. Submission of applications for all U.S. competitions wishing to be sanctioned by the FEI.
f. Assuring the opportunity to compete for athletes at all levels, with oversight of the sport from entry level to Olympic level � assuring an unobstructed path from bottom to top for aspiring athletes.
g. Educating and licensing of officials, including recommendations for FEI licenses and promotions.
h. Creating and executing High Performance Plans for developing and sustaining excellence at the Olympic, Pan American, and World Championship level, including the logistical management of the participation in these events.
i. Providing a method of selection, that meets with USOC approval, for the determination of U.S. representation at Games and Championships.
j. Receipt, review, and formal acceptance of all invitations extended by other countries for US athletes to participate.
k. Issuance of documentation for athletes (licenses) and their horses (passports) to participate in International competition.
l. Insurance that disabled athletes have the ability to participate in the sport up to and including the Paralympic Games.
m. Communication of all relevant information regarding the sport to its athletes, officials, and organizers, including information on the Athlete Anti-Doping program.
n. Provide for representation of the sport within the USOC and the FEI, including election of Eligible Athletes to the AAC.
o. Encourage and support research, as well as disseminate information, on issues of training, fitness, health, and safety for competitors.
p. Support the mission of the FEI to assure the welfare of the horses (including the administration of a Drugs and Medications program), increase both the universality and the public�s awareness of the sport.

6. To date, Equestrian sport has functioned under the auspices of two different organizations: the AHSA (designated as the NGB since federal law codified the term in 1978) that has dealt with the majority of governance issues; and the USET that has focused on providing financial and logistical support for much US representation (in 6 of the 7 FEI disciplines), as well as various programs for training and development of international level competitors. This arrangement predates the 1978 Ted Stevens Act by 28 years.

7. While the USOC never approved of the �division of labor� between 2 organizations, prior to 1997 the issue of �delegation� was handled (with the USOC�s tacit consent) by means of agreements among the leaderships of both the AHSA and USET. These pre-1997 agreements provided for direct and meaningful AHSA oversight of USET actions, including drafting of selection procedures, naming of teams, all foreign participation by American athletes, and all communication with either the USOC or the FEI.

8. For a number of years the USOC has reviewed the status of compliance of the AHSA as NGB on a regular basis.

9. With the election of new Presidents for both the AHSA and the USET in 1997, a formal Operating Agreement was requested by the USET. It was negotiated over a 7-month period under the oversight of the Vice Chairman of the USOC. This OA was an attempt to simplify the complexities of dealing with two organizations with regard to participation in foreign international competitions by US athletes. Its terms provided for less AHSA oversight of USET programs, including selection of Teams, than ever before. It also created an AHSA Athlete Services Desk in the Gladstone headquarters of the USET so that all international competitors would receive improved service, even when not participating in USET supported programs or competitions.

10. That Operating Agreement extended only through the Olympic Games of 2000. Attempts to extend it (for an additional one or two Quadrennia) were unsuccessful. In the Spring of 2000 the USOC indicated that the terms of the Agreement would no longer be acceptable to them, due to issues of whether matters central to the governance of the sport had been delegated.

11. Discussions between the two organizations regarding the future governance of the sport did not begin until after the completion of the Sydney Games. This was in spite of the urging of the AHSA Officers who repeatedly requested the USET to begin discussions before the expiration of the OA and the notification to both groups that a joint presentation to the USOC had to be made on Nov. 18-19th.

12. Representatives of both the AHSA and the USET met with representatives of the USOC on October 12th agreeing to jointly tackle how to achieve governance in order to meet the USOC mandate. The method agreed to by both the USET and the AHSA was a professionally facilitated Strategic Planning Initiative (SPI) with 10 participants to be designated by each of the 2 organizations, along with a senior staff person from each. It was agreed that the Operating Agreement would continue in effect until the SPI had met and a review of its progress had been made by the USOC.

13. The first facilitated meeting of the SPI took place on Nov. 6th in Newark, NJ, where the issues were identified and it was voted to proceed with the process.

14. On Nov. 22th the AHSA was officially notified that compliance issues, primarily concerning the terms of the Operating Agreement, would be addressed by the Membership and Credentials Committee in late February, with the possibility of its recommendation to the Executive Committee that the NGB for Equestrian be found �out of compliance.� The letter acknowledged the SPI process underway and put a February 1st deadline on reaching mutual agreement on how to approach the governance issues, prior to making that recommendation.

15. The second meeting of the SPI, again in Newark, NJ, on Dec. 5-6 identified a number of different potential solutions, which were narrowed down to two different scenarios. These are currently being further developed (one by each group). One is the USET becoming the NGB for Equestrian sport and assuming all the functions that that entails, the second is the formation of an entirely new and modern NGB � best accomplished through an amalgamation or consolidation of both existing corporations, thus preserving the strengths and experience of each.

16. The third meeting of the SPI � to receive, study, and discuss both fully �fleshed-out� options � takes place on January 9th in hopes of reaching a consensus within the sport. An inability to do so could mean putting our sport through public hearings in front of the USOC, potentially followed by an expensive arbitration process, to arrive at the mandated single organization able to successfully undertake ALL the required governance functions. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Jan. 14, 2001, 09:28 AM
This is the USET's answer to the AHSA's proposal. Again, apologies for being long.

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> An Open Letter from the United States Equestrian Team

From the USET SPI Steering Committee (Armand Leone, Jr. and Robert Standish)

To the Equestrian Community:

There is growing anxiety in the print and electronic press about the status of the negotiations between the American Horse Shows Association (AHSA) and the U.S. Equestrian Team (USET) on the designation of national governing
body for equestrian sport by the U.S. Olympic Committee. In the spirit of openness, the USET presents this letter describing the issues and explaining its solution.

The Strategic Planning sessions were necessary, because the USOC ordered the
AHSA and USET to comply with the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act
and end the splitting of NGB functions that has existed for over 50 years.
The AHSA has had the official title of NGB, while for the last 50 years the
USET has done the work of the NGB for the AHSA. The USET has been the de
facto NGB by working to fund, train and organize our country's equestrian
athletes. The result has been medals for Equestrian in every Olympic Games
except one. In fact, the importance of the Olympic effort caused the USOC to
request that both organizations hold off discussing resolution of the NGB
non-compliance until after the Sydney Games.

The USET came to the second SPI session with a detailed proposal in hand.
Contrary to some published comments and Internet chatting, our proposal was
put out as a tangible first step to spur an open dialogue on how to
formalize the NGB status. Our proposal has the USET assuming the title of
the National Governing Body (NGB) and National Federation (NF) for
Equestrian Sport in the United States. To do so, the USET would take over
the international administrative functions currently handled by AHSA. The
AHSA would be an Affiliate Member sport organization (much like the USET was
for the last 50 years) and continue to provide all its current services for
its national breeds and discipline organizations. Under the USET Proposal,
both organizations retain their headquarters, assets and infrastructure, and
the continuity of programs at the national and international levels is
ensured. The AHSA Board would remain intact without any reduction in the
proportionate representation of its constituent groups.

The USET Proposal is modeled after other NGBs that are similarly situated,
such as USA Track & Field, USA Baseball, USA Wrestling and USA Basketball.
For instance, USA Wrestling has 49 state associations that focus on
providing state and local competitions and are comprised of volunteers,
coaches, officials, athletes and parents. These associations conduct tournaments, run clubs, organize trips and coach athletes in their area. USA Track & Field is comprised of 56 Member associations that oversee the sport at the local level.

The AHSA very capably regulates equestrian sports for the multiple breeds and disciplines that exist in the United States. However, the USOC mandate for an NGB is to focus on maximizing international competitive excellence in equestrian sports and to coordinate affiliate member organizations that run national, local and non-international equestrian programs. The NGB also should ensure that a clear pathway exists for athletes to progress from the grassroots to the Olympic level competition.

While the USET values the expertise and services of the AHSA, the NGB situation as it stands cannot continue. By allowing the USET to assume the NGB title and the few remaining NGB functions, continuity of services to Equestrian athletes is ensured with the lowest cost and the least upheaval to both organizations.

Equestrian activity at the local, grassroots level is the heart of our sport, and the AHSA should continue to conduct horse events under its auspices at this level. As riders and drivers develop and graduate to higher levels of competition, the NGB then assumes responsibility for their continued success. The NGB cannot be all things to all people in the equestrian disciplines without jeopardizing the USOC mandate of maximizing sustained international competitive excellence. A merged organization of the AHSA and USET would be too large, too cumbersome and unable to focus on this mandate, because there are too many disciplines and matters for which it would be responsible but are not related to international competition. An Affiliate Organization structure to regulate the sport on the national and local level is viable, as is the case with USA Track and Field, USA Baseball, USA Wrestling, and USA Basketball.

Logic and economic prudence dictate the USET should be NGB:

* The USET has raised funds for and administered the training, selection, coaching and sending of U.S. athletes competing in the internationally recognized disciplines to the Olympic Games, the World Championships and other International Equestrian competitions for more than 50 years.
The result has been a multiplicity of Olympic medals in equestrian events.
* Both organizations' assets, infrastructure and boards continue to exist.
* The USET Bylaws comply with USOC requirements for NCB.
* Athletes recognize USET as the organization that addresses their needs.
* The USET as NGB will ensure the continuity of the athletes' programs.
* The USET has facilities and well-trained staff presently up and running
* Lower transaction costs resulting from this solution and resultant NGB structure allow more funding to support the athletes.

The USET would undergo a transformation into USA Equestrian upon becoming the NGB. This would include a reconstitution and refocusing of the current USET board and committees to more completely represent the interests of the sport and to maximize the potential for our sustained competitive excellence in international equestrian sports. While other solutions might be conceivable, no other solution is able to provide a more efficient and effective structure for fulfilling the USOC mandate. No other solution has fewer costs to the athletes, the organizations and the equestrian world in the United States. For the overall good of the sport and for sustained competitive excellence in international events, the USET's plan to assume the NGB title for equestrian as USA Equestrian is the solution.

# # #

Following is USA EQUESTRIAN Executive Summary:
A Solution for the Governance of Equestrian

As a follow up to the presentation made to the Board of the American Horse Shows Association on Thursday, January 11th, 2000 as well as previous presentations to the Active Athletes and the Board of the United States Equestrian Team, we wish to provide you with the attached proposed organizational charts. We welcome your questions and comments.

The Equestrian NGB must fulfill the USOC Mandate to achieve sustained international competitive excellence, by focusing on the support and development of equestrian's international athletes, coordinating affiliate sport organizations that run programs at the local level, and ensuring a pipeline for athletes from grass roots competitions to the Olympic level.

We are proposing that The United States Equestrian Team assume the title of NGB and change its name to USA Equestrian as part of this process. The USA Equestrian Board and Committee structure will be reorganized so as to maximize the efficiency of the organization and to ensure the organization is athlete driven. Representation on the board and committees will include the interests of the athletes, the affiliate sport organizations, the paralympic athletes and the international discipline coordinators. USA Equestrian will be responsible for managing all aspects of Protected Competitions and interfacing with the USOC and the FEI.

The American Horse Shows Association would be a vital affiliate partner as the organization responsible for managing all aspects of its competitions at the local, regional and national levels. The AHSA would have direct representation on the board and committees of USA Equestrian. The AHSA would continue to promulgate rules concerning its events and enforce them through its existing hearing and sanction procedures. The AHSA would remain responsible for competition date allocation for its recognized competitions. Other organizations that hold equestrian competitions at the local level,such as the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association and the Virginia Horse Show Association could continue to hold events under their rules.

The Seven National Discipline Associations (ADS, AERC, AVA, NHJA, NRHA, USCTA, and USDF) will be Affiliate Members of USA Equestrian and will continue their direct representation on the board plus all relevant committees of USA Equestrian. These organizations will continue to fulfill their mandates according to the will of their memberships and provide programs for developing athletes in the pespective disciplines.

The USET's plan integrates the current organizations in a way that is compliant with the USOC requirements and is optimal for fulfilling the USOC mandate with preservation of assets and infrastructure and without dissolution of the organizations. There would be no disenfranchisement of any disciplines or breeds, since proportionate representation would remain unchanged on the AHSA board and committees. Most importantly, continuity of breed specific, national and international programs would be ensured. The time for implementation of this plan is short. Staffing changes would be minimal, and there would be no changes in the board or committees required at the AHSA level.

The result is in the best interest of the sport with a focused NGB that fosters sustained competitive excellence, that maximizes the expertise of existing personnel serving all disciplines and breeds, that preserves the
infrastructure and membership of both organizations and that provides a pipeline for athletes at the grass roots level to progress to the Olympic level. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Jan. 14, 2001, 09:46 AM
The USET sounds like it is saying exactly what the AHSA already proposed. Except, they seem to still want to be head honchos (unlike the AHSA).

Hmmm - sounds like someone just wants some power. And what happens when those bigwigs who keep the USET in the black decide to take their money elsewhere? They have a location and staff - yeah, small location, very small staff. Who would actually manage what will be a multimillion dollar corporation? Do they have the knowhow?

Start over, I think, is the only answer. New structure, bring in new people. Buy the AHSA's headquarters in Lexington to be closer to the middle of the country. Get EVERY horse organization involved at some level. Reexamine the fee structures; reexamine the place for smaller orgs involvement, as well as huge ones (ie AQHA).

Reexamine the system from the bottom up, not the top down.

Ruby G. Weber
Jan. 14, 2001, 02:39 PM
Get out your flame throwers but I think it is absolutely necessary for our sport to have an organization that represents our elite riders.

I do not think that either the USET or the AHSA is without fault. However, I do sense that the AHSA is too large, too multi-disciplined, too all encompassing to efficiently handle the nuances of international athletes.

On the other hand, the USET must learn to respond to riders whose names may be unfamiliar to them as well as to recognizable riders.

Since both these organizations are already in place, it seems ridiculous to start over. Each one needs some tweaking, some new blood and to get on with the business of governing our sport and fielding competitive teams in the international arena.

Enough of the ego wars and on to the next logical step.

Jan. 14, 2001, 03:06 PM
Emmett, but the problem is IOC demands that the National Federation represent ALL layers and aspects of the sport.

The "New Organization" as orignally proposed by the AHSA would have it's International arm as well as other arms representing other aspects of Equestrian Sports.

See the Fact Sheet and the IOC information (on both the AHSA & USET's web sites) and read Linda Allen's articles - which have appeared in a variety of places. (I will try to provide links.)

If we are going to work within the guidelines of the IOC/USOC, then a new organization is the only logical way to do it. A TOTALLY new organization, not just a rehash of old orgs.

Jan. 14, 2001, 03:42 PM
Maybe the real key is the definition of "all aspects of the sport". Are we focusing on the international teams or are we including ALL aspects, even the grass roots. My feeling is they want the international, not your home grown variety.

Unfortunately, another impasse.

Jan. 15, 2001, 12:40 AM
Well, I was there at the Convention and I heard Armond Leone make the presentation for the USET and Jim Wofford for the merger.

I sure didn't hear any compromise. At first I liked what Armand was saying it sounded fine even though he proposed that the USET would be in charge and they would delegate to the AHSA as one of it's committees somewhere around the third level.

What blew my mind was when someone asked him some tangible management questions regarding us peasants and what we do Armand said "we're not interested in all those petty little factors you can all do whatever you want, we're just interested in the big issues." Not an exact phrasing but it made my hair curl.

Without question the least unconciliatory attitude I would ever expect to hear from someone proposing to take over our sport and manage it for us. It was pompous and self serving and illustrated clearly the "elitist" attitude of those involved and exactly how unimportant and demeaning it was for him to even waste his time on the question.

I say the AHSA should field it's own Olympic program, cut the USET loose and then in four years we'll see who has an Olympic team and organization that suits the USOC. If they win the NGB status what will they do with it, without us? They don't deserve us! And, they sure don't need our money or support. I'm sure they can find some little country without a team that they can represent.

Jan. 15, 2001, 10:33 AM
I too just returned from the Annual Meeting. (Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to meet Snowbird in person, I didn't know who was who until the last day while the board meeting was going on.) I too was distinctly unimpressed with the USET proposal, and with what Dr. Armand Leone Jr. had to say about the way the USET is run.

At the International open forum, Dr. Leone stated that the USET was worried about losing its brand name and the good will that goes along with the USET trademark, and losing sponsorship because of it. I introduced myself to the meeting as a member of both the AHSA and USET, and asked whether any of the sponsors had threatened to withdraw if there was a merged organization. Dr. Leone's reply was yes, but he then explained that what he was talking about were certain unidentified major individual contributors. He confirmed that none of the corporate sponsors have made any threats or given any indication that they would withdraw support from a merged organization.

This discussion led to Dr. Leone explaining the way the USET budget and financing works. As he and USET staff person Jim Wolfe explained it, the various disciplines tell the USET how much they need to accomplish their goals, the USET estimates how much they will be able to raise in fundraising efforts (all of which is typical for non-profits), and they set their budget. What shocked me, however, was when Dr. Leone then explained that at the end of the year if there is a shortfall (which, according to records there virtually always is), the USET Board members pull out their checkbooks and pay the difference so there is no deficit on the books. And that is what they are expected to do as Board members. In other words, the people who want to run our Equestrian NGB are the individuals who have the money to pay for the privilege of wielding such power.

Frankly, that idea put me squarely against the USET ever being our NGB, and put me squarely against donating any money to the USET in its present form. Unfortunately, I got the distinct impression that at least some of the Board of the USET does not care one bit what the lesser folks like me think or do.

On top of that, looking at the USET proposed organizational chart and explanation of its proposal, it is apparent the USET wants to be in the position of power over the AHSA and all of the other state and local organizations in horse sports. The USET's proposed org chart has the USOC on top, the USET underneath, and the AHSA and FEI discipline organizations under that. The USET plan also involves the AHSA largely continuing to perform (and pay for) the day-to-day functions of dealing with licensing officials and equine drug testing, etc. -- the same situation the USOC currently finds objectionable, except that the USET thinks it will be OK because the AHSA will be an underling affiliate of the USET. This is not a plan that appeals to me at all.

Jan. 15, 2001, 10:54 AM
And thank you Portia and Vikki!! And what happens when the individual sponsors (Casperson and Clark?) decide to close their wallets?

What great insight into a frighteningly elitist process! One that may have worked 40 years ago, but certainly is not appropriate today. I suppose you have considered writing this to the USOC?

A new org - reorganized from the bottom up, is, to my mind, the only solution.

Jan. 15, 2001, 11:08 AM
The top scholars in the field (of fundraising) agree that the most successful NPOs are those whose boards are the leading donors. Here's a few revealing statements from Thomas Broce's book, Fund Raising--The Guide to Raising Money from Private Sources:

"...Finally, they saw the wisdom of involving people who expected to both give and get..."

"To be successful, the board must commit itself to contribute 20% of whatever dollar goal is selected..."

"One responsibilities of trusteeship [board membership] is to support the organization with gifts...the latter is a common weakness in many volunteer-based, non-profits."

"No one else can be expected to give until the leadership express their committment to the program [through significant giving]."

I, frankly, was shocked when I read this, but it makes sense. Broce also repeats ad infinitum that 90% of funds donated come from only 10% of donors. I think his point is that, if the NPO wants to success, a goodly percent of that 10% should sit on the board.

Sportponies Unlimited
Specializing in fancy, athletic, 3/4-TB ponies.
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Jan. 15, 2001, 11:30 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> What shocked me, however, was when Dr. Leone then explained that at the end of the year if there is a shortfall (which, according to records there virtually always is), the USET Board members pull out their checkbooks and pay the difference so there is no deficit on the books. And that is what they are expected to do as Board members. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

How... ummm... provincial...

I wonder if the same can be said of other countries or other olympic disciplines?

To your point, Pwynn, I think there is a bit of a difference in committing to personally contribute to a NFP organization and making up the budget shortfall (probably in addition to the original contribution).

Thanks for the insight and asking the pointed question, Portia!

And as an additional thought... something must be horribly wrong with a system that produces a budget shortfall every year, in spite of the fact that the rest of the industry is just unbelievably succesful, from a financial viewpoint...

Jan. 15, 2001, 07:42 PM
How come they (the USET) are hiring professional fundraisers, rather than soliciting legions of volunteers, and giving themselves exhorbinant salaries.

Or is the employee who drives a Mercedes SUV independently wealthy? Friends of mine who knew him eons ago say he certainly wasn't then.

And Pwynn, granted 90% of the money comes from 10% of the sponsors, but does that give them the right to dictate policy? Or, as appears to be more the case, does that give a select few of them the right to dictate policy over the others in that 10% bracket?

Jan. 15, 2001, 09:23 PM
I dream that if we all work together, little kids from families without a lot of money will grow up and have the chance to be on our Olympic Team.

I dream that somehow we can all put together a system that let's the coaches find the best riders, no matter who they are and put them on the best horses no matter who they belong to and send them to the Olympics under the United States of America Flag and those kids who love this country will be proud to represent it and not be snobs because they bought it and compete for themselves alone.

These people have enough money to buy their own country to show under since this country isn't important but being there is for them and not any country.

At least they might do some good if they buy some poor country and support it so they can be on a team, any team.

Jan. 16, 2001, 07:50 AM
You can afford one if you are making %250,000 per year! Evidently one assistant in the org was recruited by another org and the USET matched that offer - then had to make his boss and co-worker equivalent. In a year where the USET was $1.5 MILLION in the hole - before the powers stepped in to fill that hole. (No wonder they think they can run it!)

The USET makes acccusations about the AHSA's poor financial condition, when, in fact, since Jane Clark left the helm in 1997, they have gotten themselves SQUARELY in the black and even has significant investments that have not been used. NO INDIVIDUAL or individuals now has to reach into their pockets to bail out the AHSA at the end of the year!

What about that proposed rule change that added $2 to EVERY entry fee for the USET??? It got vetoed - but do we really want to pay any more obligatory fees? How about cutting back on the fees we DO pay!

There are several web sites out there that list information about non-profits - I will post them when I find them.

Jan. 16, 2001, 09:50 AM
The USET says its primary concern is not to lose focus on the elite portion of the sport and on fielding winning teams. From what I've seen, that should be the least of their worries.

One of the people who spoke at the International open forum at the Annual Meeting was Peter Alkalay (apologies if I misspelled his name), a sports law lawyer who represents several major amateur sports organizations in connection with organization, governance, and USOC matters. For example, he represents the newly reorganized USA Track and Field, an organization that covers hundreds of thousands of atheletes at all levels, from the Olympics down to little track meets for 6 year olds.

Mr. Alkalay made it very clear that in all his experience with these amateur sports organizations that serve all levels, not a single one of them has ever had a problem with losing focus on or failing to provide needed services to the elite levels of the sport. He explained that in fact, in his experience, having a comprehensive organization helps to enhance the services at the highest levels. In those other sports, the organization is set up to have a division or divisions to serve the highest levels of the sport, and they get all the attention they need, while the grass roots that feed those elite levels are also nurtured by other divisions of the organization.

The AHSA merged organization proposal follows that model. That proposal would have the umbrella organization divided into three divisions each with its own Executive Vice President, one to handle administrative matters, one to handle national breed and discipline matters, and one to handle -- and focus entirely upon -- the international competition matters.

I also don't understand the USET argument that it would somehow be cheaper to maintain two separate organizations. One of the drivers behind most mergers is the economies of scale achieved by a merger, particularly when the two entities have overlapping functions. The USET has not yet explained, at least as far as I've seen, why they think those same economies of scale would not be achieved in a merger between the AHSA and the USET to form a new organization.

Jan. 16, 2001, 10:21 AM
A-U-D-I-T. I agree with whomever suggested this in another thread.........

These big fat salaries for the USET staff..... would be one thing if they brought in truckloads of money, but for always being in the red?

Not in the real world. And, their board should be horsewhipped for paying little or no attention to this year after year!

In a "real life" non-profit, staff heads would roll after this sort of nonsense year after year. And the Executive Director would be first to go!

It is not the point that the USET has the big guns on their board to make up the shortfall, it is bad business for them to do so. Makes for complacency in the organization staff. It is an anathema to a well-run organization.

Audit, with a capital "A"!


Jan. 16, 2001, 10:47 AM
Portia how do you think we should proceed? Is there a way to let the USOC know what we prefer? Should we send letters to them citing our preferences and reasoning?

I admit I am at a loss to know, but it seems that we should somehow have a voice in this dialog since it is OUR team. I think the idea proposed by Linda Allen for the Equestrian Games is a superior concept and could develop a program that would have an open door from the ladder. I surely would like to see that as the pathway to the Olympics for our kids.

Jan. 16, 2001, 11:30 AM
Snowbird, I'm not sure how to proceed. It can't hurt to let the AHSA and USET know how individual members feel about the process and the two proposals. The AHSA has a bulletin board, the USET doesn't, but it does have an e-mail link on its SPI page. http://www.uset.com/html/spi.html The USOC site doesn't have any any identification of who the USOC liasons for equestrian are, but on the "contact us" page it has an address and a telephone number for the USOC headquarters in Colorado Springs. If you scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, it has an e-mail link for general questions to the USOC. http://www.usoc.org/

One very good thing is that, by statute, the USOC hearings next month into the Equestrian NGB status (assuming no agreement is reached) will be open to the public. Also by statute and the USOC Charter, after the USOC makes its determination, if the two organizations competing for NGB status still disagree they can resolve the issue through arbitration. Unlike most arbitrations, however, any subsequent arbitration between the two competing organizations over NGB status must also be open to the public.

The AHSA and USET will have to explain in public exactly how they operate, have operated in the past, and how they would continue to operate into the future as NGB. All the details regarding any highly compensated employees, finances, budgets, fundraising, and who wields power will come out into the bright light of day. Somehow I suspect it will be much easier for the AHSA to justify its numbers than for the USET to do so.

Jan. 16, 2001, 01:44 PM
What I like about the USOC is the mandated democracy. I think it will be a good thing is the Board is elected instead of appointed.

During the Convention Alan Balch mentioned that was the plan and that we were supposed to be heard through the various councils who then made the final choices. That can work but right now in our discipline our problem is that the Hunter Jumper Council has dead-ended us. For example even though the forum passed our Contiguous Rule unanimously, and that had to be from most of the Board of Governors. You know as I do that at the convention there were probably not more than 20 who were not already on some committee of board. I would estimate that since there are 30 on the Board of Governors there had to be a lot out of the 57 votes this rule got who were in favor. Yet, the Council at it's final Board Meeting not only turned this down but 4 Rule Changes which were never even discussed to establish merit.

My point is that if NGB status would give us a more open and forthcoming council due to the merger that ladder the sports act talks about would be much better served.

The USET seems to believe that they have the right to delegate yet they are opposed to the AHSA for delegating. I do believe that those more versed in this rule than I say that the delegation cannot go
either way. I believe it is imperitive that the USOC know that if the USET were to be NGB 99% of the members of this equestrian sport would be disenfranchised and the opportunity to move from the bottom to the top would not exist.

In the USET plan the movement is only planned for the top level. I saw nothing that would inspire Susie Hometown to believe that she could possibly ever have the opportunity to be on the team. The USOC needs to understand this.

Jan. 16, 2001, 03:24 PM
I posted this on the AHSA Convention Report thread in response to something Snowbird asked, but it more appropriately belongs here, so sorry for the repetition.

I could be wrong, but it's my understanding that if the USOC has to decide the issue, it is not going to be choosing between the AHSA merger plan or the USET affilate plan. Instead, it would decide only whether the AHSA is in compliance with the statute and qualified to continue to be the NGB or not, and then the AHSA and USET would fight it out in arbitration over who should be the NGB into the future. I don't think the USOC can order the organizations to merge, or that it can order the AHSA to agree to become an affiliate of and at least for international matters subservient to, the USET. It might have the power to create a new organization to serve as NGB, however. I'll have to look at the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act and the USOC Charter more closely on that point.

One thing I am fairly sure of, however, is that if there is no agreement between them, whoever is declared the NGB would have to perform all of the functions of the NGB without delegating them to any other organization. So, if it remains the NGB, the AHSA would have to assume fundraising, organization, team selection, and planning for international competitions and qualifiers in the FEI disciplines.

On the other hand, if the USET were chosen as NGB, the USET would have to assume responsibility for and perform licensing of officials, equine drug testing, rules promulgation and enforcement through protests, hearings, and sanctions, competition date allocation, etc., -- all of which are NGB functions the AHSA currently performs -- for every FEI discipline at the international level and all other competitions that affect qualification to compete internationally -- namely, for example, any GP over $25,000 that could put someone on the computer list. The USET's assertion that it currently performs virtually all the functions of the NGB is not accurate.

The plans that the AHSA and USET have put forward as part of the SPI process are essentially compromise and settlement plans that require the agreement of the other party. The USET proposal requires the AHSA to go along with and agree to be under the direction of the USET regarding all FEI disciplines.

As I understand it, under the USET proposal the AHSA would become an "affilate" of the USET and in that capacity continue to perform much of the functions of licensing officials and equine drug testing in many competitions, including some involving qualifying for international competitions. The USET apparently thinks this will be acceptable to the USOC and be valid under the Amateur Sports Act because that statute allows affiliates of the NGB to perform certain functions at various levels and for geographic divisions, etc. However, the statute expressly does not allow delegation of authority or control of NGB functions from the NGB to any other organization.

To me, it looks like the USET plan suffers from exactly the same delegation problem that the USOC is complaining about right now in the relationship between the two entities under the Operating Agreement. I was not at the meeting on Thursday, but from John Strassberger's report it sounds like Peter Alkalay, the sports law expert on the USOC requirements, has the same interpretation I do.

As for the NHJC defecting and joining with the USET as an affiliate if it is selected the NGB, I'm not sure what the USET would do with the NHJC in any event. After all, as Dr. Leone pointed out in his statements at the Board meeting protesting the rule change regarding certification of international competitors by their own national federations, hunters are not any part of the FEI disciplines or international competition. The USET therefore has, and would have, no concern with hunters. Remember, the USET only wants to deal with the FEI disciplines, and only at the "elite" levels.

Jan. 16, 2001, 03:37 PM
I was there on Thursday and yes that's exactly what the attorney said and Armand just stood there and kept saying "You are wrong".

I think where the flap is with the Council is that it is a Hunter/JUMPER Council. It therefore is supposed to be involved with all the stuff that leads to the Jumper part of the Olympic Team. There was some talk about splitting it into two councils so that the Jumpers would be a separate council. Most of the moguls are very involved with shows that offer the high price jumper classes and Prix cash cows. That's why they feel they could cover the lower levels for the USET as what is needed for the lower grassroots stuff. Especially note the recent emphasis on the word "grassroots" in all the Council papers and submissions.

I think they hope to remain on the Hunter Council while managing the Jumper Council. The concept being that the AHSA would not be willing to be an affiliate and the USET would need them for the grassroots.

I haven't had time to read all the revisions to the council by-laws that they requested and were passed.

Jan. 17, 2001, 07:05 AM
Are people really considering the long term impact of these changes?

For the better, IMHO?

Jan. 17, 2001, 09:38 AM


This is a Powerpoint exhibit - the same given to the AHSA & USET Boards.

Check it out! /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Jan. 17, 2001, 01:08 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Mission Statement

The mission of the National Governing Body is to govern the sport in compliance with the laws of the United States and the Constitution of the United States Olympic Committee, and in addition, to inspire, encourage interest in, and regulate equestrian competition. �To accomplish this mission, our members and staff, working together will�

1. Protect horses by inspecting and testing to deter use of forbidden substances, by adopting and enforcing rules to prohibit other cruel, unsafe and/or unsportsmanlike practices, and by supporting valuable research to benefit our horses and our sport.

2. Promote sportsmanship and assure fair competition, and provide services for members� common benefit.

3. Assure the right to compete for all athletes at each level in every discipline.
4. Provide a body of rules with which to govern Equestrian sport at the National level, along with an effective means of enforcing them, and a judicial process that is fair to competitors while providing for optimum integrity within the sport.

5. Educate and license Officials to enforce the rules and maintain excellent standards for the sport at all levels and in all divisions.

6. Encourage and provide opportunities for athletes with disabilities to participate at all levels of Equestrian sport.

7. Provide effective and timely communication to every level of athlete, official, and organizer within the sport.

8. Develop interest and participation in Equestrian sport throughout the United States and work with affiliate associations and other breed organizations and other organizations to encourage participation.

9. Establish national goals and encourage attainment of those goals.

10. Serve as the coordinating body for equestrian activity in the United States; exercise jurisdiction over international equestrian activities, and sanction international equestrian competition held in the United States; promote the sponsorship of international equestrian competition held inside and outside the United States.

11. Coordinate the calendar of competitions to: a) assure FEI level competitive opportunities domestically;
b) enhance the level of National competition in all FEI disciplines; and
c) provide for varying levels of Regional and National competition in a wide variety of disciplines to increase breadth of the sport throughout the country,
d) serve and promote the best interests of recognized competitions.

12. Aid the USOC in its mission to help U.S. athletes achieve sustained competitive excellence while inspiring all Americans and preserving the Olympic ideal.

13. Select and recommend to the USOC individuals and teams to represent the United States in the equestrian disciplines in the Olympic, Pan American and Paralympic Games.

14. Select and designate individuals and teams to represent the United States in other equestrian international competition and certify, if applicable under FEI rules, the amateur eligibility of such individuals and teams.

15. Work together with the FEI in its mission to protect the horses from any form of abuse, extend the universality of Equestrian sport, and promote its visibility to the public.

16. Serve as the National Governing Body for Equestrian sport in the United States and member of the USOC and as the member National Federation for the United States in the FEI. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

For those interested in reading this is an easier format than what is posted on the ASHA web site, I have created a pdf (Adobe Acrobat) file from the PowerPoint presentation. Email me directly.

Jan. 17, 2001, 02:48 PM
Congratulations to all of us who participated. The first purpose in the mission statement is the one we have all been responsible for having been included.

Jan. 17, 2001, 04:38 PM
A BIG one to Portia, Snowbird and Weatherford for keeping us updated. Many of us could not attend, and having the feed back is wonderful. Will be very interested to see what the final out come is. How many of the rule changes passed. Hearing the questions, and the answers that were given at the convention. All of this gives more insite. The USET needs to make major changes. I, like Portia, certainly do NOT want to become a member nor do I want to donate as it now stands. Let's hope that we are moving forward with this, finally!

Jan. 17, 2001, 10:24 PM
Three rules, the right to know, the right to vote and the riding school establishment rules were sent to the planning committee for implementation and revising so they were compatible and could be passed.

The Mission statement was a success, already done.
The contiguous state rule and the revisions to the by-laws are supposed to be resolved by the NHJC and us and brought back to the AHSA Executive Committee for the March meeting.

The NHJC never discussed the Revisions in any forum, they also ignored the Increment system, the Masters, the Affiliated Association to not charge non-member fees, and the changes to the judges rule. The only rule the NHJC discussed and voted down in a forum was the change to the Junior age to include the young rider age to 21.

Jan. 18, 2001, 04:57 PM
At the convention I met so many kind people with such willingness to sacrifice for GOOD sportsmanship and an appreciation for every level of this industry.

Most were from other disciplines and other parts of the country and yet they could appreciate the effort work and tenacity that got me to Colorado Springs. They didn't understand all the issues but they could respect the effort.

There should be a way to put all these good people and the hunter/jumpers together instead of everyone living in their separate little worlds and building walls.

We should use horses as the means to celebrate the differences and be thrilled by the differences and respect all the different ways we all live our lives and yet we all love horses.

Jan. 19, 2001, 06:53 AM
What happens to the USET if the AHSA proposal is selected?

If the USET "wins" both it and the AHSA will still exist albeit with a different relationship and different name/s. But if not, does the USET...cease? Or what?

Just went to look at www.equestrianlife.com (http://www.equestrianlife.com), which looked to be a pretty good website (at least during Olympics, the last time I went there), and found it was purchased by USET Properties...what will happen to the site if the USET "loses"? And if they don't, what changes will occur on the site? I really liked it the way it was!

Anyone know?

Jan. 19, 2001, 09:20 AM
Hey Nancey, good to have you back! /infopop/emoticons/icon_cool.gif

I don't know the answer to your questions. The AHSA is and always has been the NGB, but the USET has performed some of the functions og that role. Until the last few years, the USET performed those functions directly under the AHSA, and since the Operating Agreement it has done so by delegation from the AHSA and with the AHSA's supervision. Under the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act, though, the NGB cannot delegate the core functions of governing the sport to any other entity. So, if the AHSA and USET cannot come to an agreement and the USOC and arbitration results in the AHSA remaining the NGB, the AHSA will have to conduct all the fundraising and organizing activities the USET does, and the USET will no longer have its primary purposes for existing.

The idea the AHSA is proposing is a merger of the two organizations into a new entity. The assets of the USET would remain earmarked to the international division of the new entity (as is permissible under the non-profit corporation laws), and the USET activities would continue from Gladstone except as a division of the combined organization rather than a separate entity.

I would hope that, even if those at the USET who are pushing its NGB effort are shortsighted enough to continue the fight all the way to the end and lose, that they would then recognize the benefits of the AHSA offer and agree that the USET should join with the AHSA to achieve what is best for horse sports in this country.

Jan. 19, 2001, 09:47 AM
Thanks Portia!

That's just it...if they don't merge, do they cease to exist since their raison d'etre is gone?
And with whom would the AHSA replace their existing personnel?

If they do merge and everything is reorganized, will their internal structure and personnel be adapted as is?

I have been reviewing the available information (quite a few letters and press releases out there!) to "catch up" on this topic, but perhaps haven't scrutinized the AHSA organizational chart carefully enough.

Jan. 19, 2001, 11:07 AM
Well if these adults who believe they are so superior and intelligent cannot compromise and the AHSA continues it function as NGB it will set up the mechanics for an International Team.

Those who became disenfranchised by virtue of their interest in the USET are of course going to be welcomed back and will continue their competition and management under the AHSA. OR! I suppose they could find some poor country they can buy, have dual citizenship and still have their own team.

If the USET should be selected they would be compelled to develop all the grassroots programs in which they have indicated they have no interest. The AHSA could continue to develop new riders and horses and send them to compete in the selection trials for the team. It was afterall the base of the AHSA which made the USET possible. There is no reason it could not do it again.

Jan. 19, 2001, 04:14 PM
I just don't get it. I know I'm oversimplifying (that's why I don't get it), but why can't USET be a sub-whatever of AHSA? What IS the problem with that? NHRA is. USCTA is. USDF is. NHJC is. Various breeds are. Each do their own fundraising as well as give and get from AHSA. What is the big deal?

Is it "just" a power and ego issue? Look, I've been reading everything you guys have posted, but I just can't understand why it has to be so complicated. Did I miss that? I'd sure appreciate some help in understanding what I'm missing. I know USET has almost as much in income as AHSA (having examined their IRS I-990 form), but except for being technically "under" AHSA's wing, what harm would the merger do? What harm?

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Jan. 19, 2001, 06:40 PM
Well Wynn on that other BB there is an interview with TS and he seems finally to have gone public with the truth.

Yep! It's ego and it's protection of turf. He really is mad about the Sunday Board meeting. I guess he really isn't interrested in hearing from the little people when he has so much offered to him on his plate.

He aparently is upset because he wouldn't be on the new AHSA Board of Directors. He's miffed because he's in the same box as all other breeds and associations.

BUT..the USET has offered him a Board position. WOW! isn't he impressive? The AHSA is foolish to be re-inventing itself as an umbrella but the NHJC wouldn't be foolish to re-invent itself AGAIN! for a Board seat.

Yes! Wynn it's ego and turf that those studs need to protect at any cost. (As long as it's not theirs)

Jan. 20, 2001, 09:12 AM
Snowbird, I don't think it is as bad as you imply.
I read the entire interview and I would be upset if my representation was going from 25% of the current AHSA Board (13-14 members)to zero percent on the proposed new board.

"so we go from the AHSA board where we have 14 or 13 representatives out of the 60 some�us meaning the hunters and jumpers, to this new plan, a new board where we don�t have any representation."

He certainly has a different spin on the How the AHSA meeting was run.

"it was embarrassing to be a board member.....the AHSA upper end was so busy thinking about and considering what is going on with our international situation that it paid such little attention to the 400 rule changes that were put in front of it"

Isn't spin a wonderful thing.

Jan. 20, 2001, 09:33 AM
Yes! except we've been trying to figure out what the motivations are. The fact is that as has been proposed one problem with the AHSA was the predominace of the hunter people and their issues.

It is therefore logical that they would be treated the same as all the other disciplines. The USOC also requires a smaller board so it's really a matter of semantics I think. There just has to be different titles and structure.

The USET would only be expanding so they would be where the AHSA was a while back. The USET and the athletes have to be on the Board.

Certainly, while jumpers and the other International sports have to be on the board, the hunters which are not an international discipline would have to drop down a rung on the ladder.

I just coundn't figure out the reasons for the dilemma and I thought the article was rather revealing of what the powers of the NHJC were thinking. I still do think it is a matter of ego and turf.

I wish there was more of an appreciation for what's in the best interests of the sport rather than just the hunters. I can't imagine how the NHJC thinks they are entitled to be supported by our membership money and then pay homage to the USET.

Perhaps, the answer is to split the NHJC into two parts and have jumpers and hunters separately. The jumpers certainly would need to be with the USET is they win the contest and the hunters would have to stay with the AHSA.

Jan. 20, 2001, 09:47 AM
I finally got into the site through a back door (my computer refuses to enter the usual way for some reason).

Struzzieri said this: "And if you ask why does the AHSA want to�reinvent itself just to accommodate this issue [overseeing international competition, I think] I think every member has a right to ask."

He was talking in the context of Saddlebreds and Arabians. I think he was asking why THEY would care. And he seemed to imply that they aren't happy about all the fuss or something.

Has anyone heard from non-H-J factions about how they feel? Why shouldn't there be a wing of AHSA that deals with international issues? Who does that hurt in the other areas? And who says there won't ever be any international competitions within the breeds? NRHA already has some plans, I believe. Why is it assumed that SAddlebred or Arabian or Morgan enthusiasts don't care about how the US represents itself abroad, regardless of the actual discipline (which could also be driving, reining or endurance riding, BTW).

I realize that because it is the USOC, that the Olympic sports are the focus, but jumpers, dressage and eventing aren't the only international disciplines. It doesn't sound like the USET reps are thinking about anything except the Olympic disciplines. Surely even USOC has more than that in mind?

I find this subject very frustrating.

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Ruby G. Weber
Jan. 20, 2001, 12:29 PM
I have just read TS's interview.

To me it read, the NHJC will go with either organization but I think I also read that if the USET (USA Equestrian) were to become the NGB, that could, quite possibly put the NHJC in a better position to represent the Hunter/Jumper discipline.

Wasn't the idea of the NHJC born of the AHSA desire to have an association affiliated with it to represent Hunters and Jumpers? I believe so. The AHSA WANTED the Hunter/Jumper industry to have it's own representation, similar to USDF, USCTA, NPHA, etc. All under AHSA's umbrella.

Part of the problem with all this is economics. The largest chunk of membership in the AHSA is Hunter/Jumper. We pay the most in annual dues. Percentage wise, we should have the largest representation on the Board, no none.

An example...to compete at sanctioned events, the rider must be member of the AHSA as well as the USCTA. To compete at Hunter/Jumper shows, one merely has to be a member of the AHSA, not also the USET. Statewide associations, are optional.

Snowbird says the USET board members make up the difference at the end of the fiscal year. Portia says that is not unusual for a non profit. Isn't that what the AHSA is? Why should we think that those board members are not anteing up as well? A charitable donation looks the same to the IRS, no matter what non profit it went to.

After reading the TS interview, I'm not sure the Hunter/Jumper industry would not be better off with representation solely from within the Hunter/Jumper industry.

Jan. 20, 2001, 12:52 PM
From what I was told, check books were gotten out at the AHSA for many years. Whether this is still being done, only an audit might tell. Yes, these are non profit org. but what's wrong with this picture when board members are paying to keep them out of the red. No wonder so many ego's are involved. There's an ownership identity crisis occuring.

What makes us think that with a new organization this might change?

Jan. 20, 2001, 02:13 PM
Right on! We finally got our toe in the door and we who pay the bills got a chance to be heard. I didn't see the same interest or concern for "hunters" from the USET presentation, Board seat or not. Maybe they would care about the jumpers but since we are not an International Discipline I think we fit into the "I don't care" part of the presentation.

I agree with Wynn, I don't know why anyone should assume that all horse people are not interested in the Olympics. Whether or not you participate in an international discipline I think all horse people do care and will care and have the right to be included.

I wouldn't like a caste system that left anyone out.

I also wondered what the "monkey in the middle" thing was? It's been a very long time since I played any childrens games and maybe I missed this one. Does anyone understand what that was all about? All I can think of is the three monkeys, hear no evil, see no evil and say no evil. Is TS trying to tell us all to look the other way and keep our mouth shut or was that some bad attempt at humor. I guess he's a lot younger than he looks.

Jan. 20, 2001, 02:49 PM
The interview with TS is very disheartening, as it appears he doesn't/didn't have any understanding of the facts and the proposals on the table.

First he says <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> "the USET changes it name, it?s semantics, but changes its name to USA Equestrian and puts together a board of directors and has offered us representation on that board of directors. So that is unique." <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

If you check the AHSA presentation, called USA Equestrian (which was FIRST proposed by the AHSA at the first meeting in November), you will see that first, on the Board of Directors are the seven VP's in charge of FEI desciplines - one of which is JUMPERs. 8 active atheletes (not more than 3 from each discipline) (so that is 3 more Jumpers, conceivably), plus the Chair of the Show Management Committee, Breeders Committee, Owners committee (who could all be H/J people), and Nine Directors (9) from non-FEI disciplines, whose primary affiliation shall be determined according to a proportional share of the total Individual Senior Membership (excluding the FEI disciplines), and One Director Nominated by the NNC from among the Breeds and Disciplines not.

There could be a lot of H/J people in that mix, which would not be the exclusive "ownership" of the organization that we now have. This also leaves room for groups that are currently disenfranchised - those who LEFT the AHSA because of its pandering to strictly H/J disciplines. (Such as the AQHA).

From what I am reading, it looks as if TS got his organizations mixed up.

[This message was edited by Weatherford on Jan. 20, 2001 at 06:43 PM.]

Jan. 20, 2001, 05:19 PM
and I have to say that parts of it were so convoluted that I more often than not couldn't make head or tail of it. (Lots of coherence was lost in the rush to print, I think!) Monkey in the middle, though, is a keep-away game, Snowbird, in which the ball gets passed between two players over the head of a third player, who is the "monkey in the middle." If the monkey is able to snatch the ball, the player that the ball is kept away from becomes the new monkey. Understanding this helps me not at all in understanding the NGB issue, other than knowing that nothing I possibly do or say or think will affect the outcome. Better to focus on the day to day struggles of wintertime horsekeeping. He did raise some interesting points. Certainly the flak has been flying at a great rate from within both organizations as is demonstrated by the ever increasing volume and rate of tit-for-tat PR missives directed to my mailbox from both sides on almost a daily rate (I being an occaisional journalist in real life). At this point my take on it is that it amounts to not much more than "spin" from both sides which is not only not at all constructive as far as moving towards a resolution, but is in fact beginning to sound more than a bit desparate.

Jan. 20, 2001, 09:29 PM
So the NHJC is the monkey in the middle and the USET and the AHSA keep passing the ball over his head and he can't catch it. That's makes the analogy workable, I get it he's mad because he can't catch the ball.

You're right Weatherford and TS just doesn't follow the trail of the bouncing ball.

It makes sense to me that Show Management, Breeders and Owners should be represented that deal with issues for all breeds. That's how a PR program can be developed. I have always felt that the disciplines should be the base units and all the breeds would fit in with those disciplines which they develop. Morgans for example do hunters, saddle seat and stock seat as well as driving and so do the Arabs. I think they have been very patient.

The 9 non-FEI disciplines fit into the above pattern, and certainly based on proportional numbers the hunters and jumpers would have a good place.

So you are absolutely right TS just wasn't listening. All he heard was what he wanted to hear not was actually on the table.

Jan. 21, 2001, 06:47 AM
he may not be on your channel, but I am among those who are of an opinion that the man does not miss a trick. Strangely, while he is not "one of us" he is certainly not "one of them!" I think he has his eyes firmly on the big picture, which is more than can be said for those who have been charged with solving the NGB issue. Whatever the problems of our sport/ industry, they won't vanish whatever the outcome; there is no magic potion that will suddenly make all these very powerful and egotisitical people become reasonable and open to compromise. Think about it, elite athletes / top level managers by their nature are not compromisers after all--they did not get where they are by giving in, and it is wishful thinking to delude ourselves that a compromise is likely. Hard to imagine any outcome at all other than the USOC directing the resolution from outside the sport; I think that TS, as an establishment "outsider" sees this more clearly than those who have been mired in this issue all along.

Jan. 21, 2001, 08:44 AM
But one also must see through his own personal "spin" on things.

NHJC would end up independent regardless of who got the NGB. Then, if, as Weatherford pointed out, representation in "it" was done as proposed--by the numbers--that's the end of that, as well. Both of these points made by TS are really non-issues being used, possibly, to hide the interpersonal issues that may be driving his perspectives.

If I'm wrong about this, then someone tell me exactly what difference it makes to NHJC whether AHSA or USET is the NGB? If it makes no difference, then, IMO, NHJC should just stay out of it and not use it's position to try to sway anyone. "It" after all, is supposed to be a representative council, not one man's domain.

It is, in my opinion, unseemly for someone at heading a supposedly representative organization to "weigh in" on an issue, as though on behalf of the organization, even though the organization is not significantly impacted by the issue. I believe such opinions should be stated as representative of the individual's views, not the organization's.

Part of this whole problem has to do with too much that is personal and subjective and not enough that is professional and objective.

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Jan. 21, 2001, 11:15 AM
Emmet, seems I need to clarify something, and thanks for pointing it out so I could. What I meant is "not unusual for a non-profit" is to make an annual budget based on projected income from fundraising, not to make a budget that may well project a shortfall, with the expectation that the board of directors of the org are then to make up the shortfall at the end of the year so the numbers look good when they exceed their budget. That's what the USET does (according to Dr. Leone's public statements at the AHSA Annual Meeting), and in my mind that is both unusual and fiscally dangerous. It also guarantees that only those who have the money will ever make any decisions.

According to what I've been told, the AHSA used to operate in somewhat the same way, that is, the board wrote checks at the end of the year. But the AHSA does not operate that way any longer and has not for many years. The AHSA is an organization that depends on its broad base of membership and corporate support, not on a few select individuals who control the purse strings -- which is what the USET does.

As Wynn (or Lucian, can't remember now) pointed out, it is common to have big contributors on non-profit boards, and I have no problem with that. They are the people who support the org and they should have a voice. But this isn't the local symphony we're talking about here. It's the group that wants to take control of horse sports in this country. The USET's proposed organizational chart has it above the AHSA and all the other horse organizations in the US.

As for the H/J community not having a say in the board of any new organization, that's ridiculous. The H/J community is a huge part of horse sports and it's just plain deceptive to say they won't have substantial representation on the board of a new merged or revamped org. Maybe Mr. Struzzieri wouldn't have the power he wants to have, but that is not the same as the H/J world not having a strong voice into the future. I saw and met many people at the Annual Meeting who are in the H/J world and who will ensure these disciplines are heard and well represented into the future.

As for the other disciplines, I personally spoke about the issue with several people in the leadership of other disciplines, such as the Andalusians, and what I heard from them is that they care about our international disciplines as much as anyone else. They support driving and dressage and jumping and eventing. They are worried about the USET being placed in a position above the AHSA when the USET's focus is to care only about the FEI disciplines and only at the elite level. I'm certainly not saying others in those breed and non-FEI disciplines wouldn't have other opinions, but it is not fair to say they all are worried about what will happen if the AHSA is the NGB. Geez, the AHSA is and always has been the NGB and the breeds and disciplines haven't been neglected.

It may be harsh of me to say, but the comment in Mr. Struzzieri's interview that rang the most true to me was when he said the details were "all in one ear and out the other" to him. He doesn't know how process will work or how the USOC will make the decisions and apparently doesn't care to learn. Personally, I found his assessment of the proposals and the possibilities for the future uninformed.

Also. just my personal opinion of course, but I was at the board meeting on Sunday and did not in any way perceive it as the "disorganized" "embarassement" Mr. Struzzieri describes. They were introducing a new system that made sure that rule change proposals from the grass roots could not be discarded by the committees without ever being addressed by the board, and they had a new system for tracking the proposed rules changes, so that may have caused some confusion with some of the directors who are used to the way things were always done before. I haven't been to other meetings so I can't compare them, but I thought the AHSA people did very well in organizing a very complex meeting with hundreds of individual rules changes to be voted on by every director.


[This message was edited by Portia on Jan. 21, 2001 at 02:12 PM.]

Jan. 21, 2001, 12:17 PM
My take is exactly the same. I do not write as eloquently and concisely as you which talent I really admire but we are on the same page.

The Struzzeri take on the USET format is self serving perhaps but not in the best interests of us as participants in an industry.

For example he was operating under the old system when he ignored the fact that the proposed rule change passed by a vote of 57 or 52(anyway it was unanimous) and then turned the vote down cold and went in opposition.

There were in addition four of our proposals which were never discussed in the forum and yet they were turned down. At the Board of Governors meeting where this happened the Governors did not have a clue what they were voting for or against. He read off his mantra of opposed and they not wanting to appear difficult just went along not knowing which vote was for what and there was no discussion. He was so rude to me that I received apologies from at least four of the Governors afterwards.

So, perhaps he feels it will be acceptable to function this way under the USET plan, and yet keep getting the money from the AHSA. Certainly I did not see any place where "hunters" which is not an international discipline would be tolerated in any way to have some voice. If he in fact was offered a seat on the board I'm sure it was as a show manager of competitions that offer the high paying Prix classes.

Ruby G. Weber
Jan. 21, 2001, 12:17 PM
I think you have made more sense about this issue that anyone. You are absolutely correct in your analogy of the personalities involved. And, unfortunate as it may be, you are probably correct in stating that no one is going to give.

I also completely agree with your take on TS. He is quite the business person.

As far as USET v AHSA...at this point, only time will tell, although even if the USOC does have to had down a decision, I doubt that will end it.

Back to dealing with horses in winter.

Jan. 21, 2001, 03:57 PM
It's really a shame that you don't see that you and everyone else needs to have more confidence in your right to be heard.

The reason I went to the convention was to try and show you all that you can make a difference if you have an opinion and you let it be heard.

It is the cynicism and inevitability of the members that can do the most damage. A lot of drops of water can make a flood.

You can give encouragement to either side that you choose. You may just write the letter or make the phone call that helps make that final decision. It's evenly matched and evenly tied so any number of responses can push the scale either way.

Jan. 21, 2001, 04:52 PM
"Closed communities everywhere have a common characteristic: dialogues between their members are carried out on the background of a system of assumptions, which are never themselves subject to possible discussion, and are therefore sheltered from refutation, modification or renewal. Conversations, wherever they are instantiated, exemplify passive negations of the fallibility of the assumptions upon which they are carried out. Challenges of these assumptions, whenever they are attempted, are met with impatient maxims; with the retort that the assumptions are "self-evident"; with a challenge to the challenger to justify his position (i.e. "from what social or moral position do you criticize our position"); with psychoanalytic explanation of the challenger's motives which essentially reduces him or her to a self-deceived person or a deviant; or with stated suspicion that the fallibilist is attempting to use a strategy for undermining the premises of dialogue for the purpose of introducing his own agenda..."

"...[There is a] need to differentiate dialogue from parallel monologues, which represent passive negations of the interactive nature of dialogue. The introduction of new claims "on the sly" is usually undertaken for two purposes--both defensive: the first is to strengthen what seems to be a losing argument without having to acknowledge one's own position in that argument...The second purpose is to effect a nimble "change of subject" and is a frequently used device in everyday conversation...Both of the above examples of the "naive introduction" of new claims entail implicit negations of the position entailed by one's involvement in the dialogue. In the first case, the introduction of "new evidence" is usually undertaken for the benefit of an audience...and represents a theatrical act, not a communicative one. In the second case, the positions of the discussants in a dialogue--as partakers of a particular argument or line of inquiry--are passively denied. A new dialogue is "smuggled in" as if this was the dialogue that was carried on to being with."

From Communications: On the paradigm guiding industrial relations theory and research, by Thomas A Kochan.

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Jan. 21, 2001, 05:14 PM
Whoa Wynn,

Can you explain a little more simply. I think I agree.

Jan. 21, 2001, 05:40 PM
Uh, well, let's see...it is pretty heavy reading.

Number One: We need to examine assumptions, not just accept them.

Number Two: There is a tendency to criticize those who challenge assumptions (like the recent round of ad hominem attacks I received).

Number Three: People talk "at" each other, but not "to" (or "with") each other (e.g. "parallel monologues"), especially when they have an audience.

Number Four: People slip new stuff into an old argument in order to confuse things so no one will notice how weak their positions are.

Number Five: People with weak arguments also tend to try to change the subject and then pretend that their new subject was the real subject all along.

Number Six: People who are trying to have a useful discussion are shut out by these techniques, which are used by those who know they hold weak positions.

None of these behaviors leads to constructive dialogue, but those who are too lazy (my contribution) to care just sit back and let it happen anyway (passive negation).

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Jan. 21, 2001, 07:37 PM
I knew I agreed.

Yes, the diversionary tactics and exagerated examples do create the smoke behind which they hide. And, I do think many times we all talk at each other and not to each other.

I just finished reading the total interview of TS and while I found it personally revealing of his total lack of comprehension of the issues, it was also totally revealing of his self-serving need to feel important and to lock out opposition to his continuing efforts to monopolize the market share of the potential competitors.

There was nothing there that indicated any kind of concern for those who believe in the sport of raising and training healthy happy horses. He is catering exclusively to those whose ego requires that they compete at what is described as a prestigious level, and horsemanship is as irrelevant as the horse was until we got it put back into the Misiion Statement.

What a sad pity that someone who might have been a constructive leader has disclosed himself publicly as a player in the world of ego-centric rider instead of the huge potential that is out there for real sportsmen.

It makes me wonder what breeds he considers acceptable since he discounts all the breed associations as if they didn't care who was on our Olympic Team. Are we not all horse people or in the book of TS are only some deserving of being horse people.

Jan. 22, 2001, 08:35 AM
Snowbird, not to start an arguement, but we both know that what people say and do, often are very different. One has to believe that actions do speak louder than words. Especially in this situation. When people tell us, "Oh yes, it has to be done that way" I wait for the next foot to fall. Usually, they are being polite, and trying not to have a confrontation. I truly want to "believe", but there is more involved in this then we see on the surface. TS is most diffinitely a businessman. As Justjump stated, do not underestimate him. This is a business, and should be run as one. Something which is hard for many of us to grasp. As a business, the bottom line will be what we look at. If it's profitable, good, if not then big changes are needed. Currently, what organizations are profitable? Just some food for thought /infopop/emoticons/icon_confused.gif

Jan. 22, 2001, 02:48 PM
I do not underestimate Mr. Struzzeri at all. And yes, he is a businessman. I think it has been made very clear that he is tending to business. The problem is that it is his business and not ours.

He certainly is not opposed to cutting corners to get his way when he wants to, and he uses the system to say no when he wants to.

It is relatively certain that a relationship with the USET will not hurt his business which is the HITS shows. If he is successful and he can butter his bread on both sides then certainly that would be his preference.

What makes me wonder is that the new By-Laws which the NHJC just got passed doesnot give AHSA members who are mandated to belong to NHJC and credibility unless they are willing to pay another $30.00 for a full Council membership. I will post those passed revisions shortly. You will be surprised at the plan for autonomy which they have in place. It will certainly cost us all more money.

Jan. 22, 2001, 03:06 PM
AHSA Members who are automatically members of the NHJC get no additional benefits except as arbitrarily chosen by the NHJC. They can be on committees.

But, in fact it will cost an additional $30.00 a year if you want all the benefits offered. While a
Non-AHSA member can receive these benefits for the same $30.00. Since they are subsidized by the AHSA I should think that we would be entitled to a Full Council Membership without any additional cost, Wouldn't you?

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Article III Membership

Sec. 1. NHJC Membership. All current AHSA Hunter/Jumper Junior Active, Senior Active and Life members are automatically members of the NHJC. NHJC members have all the rights and privileges awarded to members in good standing by the AHSA plus any specific amenities the NHJC may offer them from time to time, which includes eligibility for appointment to NHJC Committees.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Sec. 2. Full Council Membership. Full Council Members are the AHSA Junior Active and Senior Active Hunter/Jumper members (plus all AHSA Hunter/Jumper Life members) who additionally choose to join the National Hunter/Jumper Council directly. The Full Council Membership fee is $30, payable to the NHJC. (Note: AHSA Hunter/Jumper members are those who checked the Hunter/Jumper Discipline box as their primary Breed/Discipline designation on their current AHSA Membership or renewal form). Full Council Members receive all rights and privileges accorded AHSA members in good standing, plus the following:

1. Subscription to the official NHJC newsletter, "The Council Connection."
2. Eligibility for appointment to NHJC Committees.
3. Listing in NHJC Directory (including the website).
4. Membership card, decal and pin.
5. Discounts on various NHJC activities and merchandise such as NHJC educational programs and literature, NHJC convention registration, ads in NHJC publications, NHJC official items, etc.
6. Press releases, notices and e-mail updates.
7. Such other amenities as adopted by the NHJC subject to AHSA approval.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Sec. 3. Direct Council Membership. Direct Council Members are those non-AHSA members who choose to join the NHJC by payment of the $30 annual membership fee. Direct Council Members receive the following benefits:

1. Subscription to the official NHJC newsletter, "The Council Connection."
2. Listing in NHJC Directory (including the website).
3. Membership card, decal and pin.
4. Discounts on various NHJC activities and merchandise such as NHJC educational programs and literature, NHJC convention registration, ads in NHJC publications, NHJC official items, etc.
5. Press releases, notices and e-mail updates.
6. Such other amenities as adopted by the NHJC subject to AHSA approval.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Jan. 22, 2001, 04:04 PM
A couple of months ago I asked what difference it would make to the AHSA if it was not the NGB. No one, as TS purports, is hanging on to the 'international stuff,' they are hanging on to the enforcement rights granted under the Ted Stevens Act which allows the NGB to suspend or sanction the 'bad apples' in the sport.

Under the 'USET plan' the USET claims that it will not change the function of the system as it exists now--but that does not answer the question of 'delegation' of duties. USET representatives have frequently stated that they do not care about anything but the elite athletes. If the USET can't delegate the enforcement of drugs and medication rules, suspensions, licensed officials programs, etc. to the AHSA, will those functions be fulfilled by the USET itself? How?

AHSA attorney Peter Alkalay says that according to the USOC, the USET can't delegate anything. Armand Leone says he's wrong. I guess we'll eventually find out what the USOC thinks.

But without the rules enforcement does that put us back to the 70's but with bigger stakes? Is our 'sport' going to become the equestrian equivalent of Chicago in the 1920s?

This is the vested interest that all of us have in the NGB status--even the breed organizations.

Jan. 22, 2001, 06:31 PM
My understanding from the various things I have read over the past weeks is that the USET plan would have them focus on the International level and refer the national level to a national organization, the local stuff to local organizations.

Their plan is modeled after OTHER USA olympic sports that do allow this form of delegation. It is not sending part of the organizations duties to another, but allowing the different levels to organize those levels.

The bottom rules apply to all and the rules increase as you climb the ladder.

The USET plan would adopt the FEI rule book for the international level and would be able to "legistlate" at that level, but would allow the lower levels to "legislate" on their own.

Personally, I think this plan makes the most sense for the good of the entire sport. It gives a ladder for riders to climb and legislation of each discipline handles by themselves and at the various levels.

Anyone that has dealt this soccer, wrestling, gymnastics or ice skating would have seen a similar system.

Jan. 22, 2001, 06:56 PM
TinyTot, maybe you can answer this question (and it's a real question, not some kind of veiled challenge!). How does the USET plan address the need to deal with the mix of elite level classes with lower level events at so many horse shows and events and with the governance of those events?

As we all know, in the H/J world, with the exception of maybe one or two classes a year in the US, the elite level classes the USET proposes to govern (GPs with prize money over of $25,000+) are classes that are only part of shows that involve days and days of non-elite or non-FEI classes. We even have shows like our Pin Oak here in Houston that are have a big money GP, a full slate of H/J divisions, and saddleseat, and roadsters.

Add to that, the scope of the classes the NGB has to govern -- and with respect to which it cannot delegat any of its functions as NGB (rules, judges, stewards, drug testing, protests, hearings, discipline, etc.) -- include any class or competition that could concern the qualification of an individual for international competitions. In the H/J world, that is any open jumper money class that could put you on the computer list. So that makes for quite a few classes around the country.

How would the USET avoid the "delegation" prohibition of the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act and the USOC Charter/Constitution in shows where the AHSA deals with licensing of officials, drug testing, protests, etc. for everything but the possible qualifier classes? Will the USET have their own separately licensed judges, stewards, TDs, drug testing programs, protests and hearings, etc. in place at each of these shows for the GP classes that can be qualifiers for international competition?

Equestrian sports are unique in many ways, one of which is that we have the elite levels competing in the same shows with the very grass roots levels -- $100,000 GPs preceded by lead line classes. I don't know much about the organization of the sports you listed. Are they set up the same way, so one competition has classes or divisions dealing with the extremes of levels of competitors? Or are they divided up more so that the baby levels are all together in one event, then you move up and the higher levels are at another compeition? If they are like horse shows, how do those organizations deal with the delegation problems?

Jan. 22, 2001, 08:08 PM
My understanding and part of this is simply a guess based on how things are currently handled regarding the $25,000 + events.

Currently there are additional rules that the USET requires be followed for the class to be included on the ranking list, additionally they the show must be certified by the USET to offer that class. That system is already in place.

Currently, any FEI event, including the world cup qualifying shows, must follow FEI rules, including having the FEI panel, judges, etc.

Those systems could easily be modified for including more events using similat standards.

Regarding the delegation, my understanding of the USET plan in that regard is based on how I know the USA soccer works, which was one of their models.

USA soccer oversees the international aspects.
Under them is USA national that oversees national soccer, but not international.
under them are the state organizations.
under theme the local organizations.

There are base rules for that exist at ALL levels, but they add more as you climb the ladder.

A similar situation could happen with the equestrian

USA Equestrian over sees the international level
AHSA handles the national events
each discipline handles their areas
local organzations deal with the grassroots

This type of plan would require the disiplines to work more with the local organziations, something that is done with just about everyone, but h/j.

A system would be in place to encourage riders to move up the ladder and as they did they would fall more under the national and international events.

The problem with the Equestrian, as I see it, is that for years we have become a "hobby" system, chasing points. No other sport has year end awards for earning the most points, especially at any level you want to show. In my opinion, the USET has a better way to make over the ENTIRE sport, where as the AHSA plan only wants to start fielding a team. They have not talked about how the entire system would change.

No the USET's major concern is not the grassroots level, but they fell that there are already organizations that do that service, that would come under their umbrella and follow their rules.

The AHSA never started out as a organization for the athletes. It was a group of shows. The USET has functioned for years for the athletes.

Neither was will be easy or perfect, but a change needs to be made and my feeling is that the USET would be more likely to have a positive impact in the long run.

Please realize that much of this is MY interatation of what I have seen and heard and my knowledge of the people involved based on previous dealings.

I am trying to look at this as to which way would best serve of team and athletes?

Jan. 22, 2001, 08:50 PM
I have been present for both presentations and you are in serious error, both groups claim the title of USA Equestrian.

While in the AHSA Plan the USET and the AHSA would be equal partners of the new corporation if they merged in the USET plan they would be delegating in the same way that the AHSA has done only to the AHSA which would be a third level participant.
The USET seems to believe that they can delegate the unimportant stuff like us, but in fact there was an attorney there who specializes in this type of structure and said definitely it was an equal violation whether you delegated the top or the bottom of the ladder. Armand Leone disagreed but that doesn't make it true does it?

The total lack of interest that the USET has in the lower than $25,000 Prize classes would create a bigger problem because the USET is then required to supervise and regulate all levels down to the grassroots. The idea is that any kid in the country has to know there is a way to make the Olympic Team. I doubt there is any evidence that the USET is prepared to be concerned about that at all.

For the past 50 years the USET has been a part of the AHSA very successfully. And, at present the AHSA is still the NGB. I see nothing to be gained by turning over the total control of this sport to a small inverted group of wealthy people who don't care about anything below their level of competition. I think it would be most effective if they simply did what they do very well and under the mantel of equality with the AHSA.

I cannot imagine how that would improve anything and it is grossly unfair to suppose that the various breeds and disciplines do not have an interest in supporting our team within the present AHSA structure. They have been doing that for many years. Here there is a base membership of 70,000 that represents the whole country and the whole industry.

What I see as the real villain in this is this over specializtion and separation of all the disciplines and breeds as if they didn't belong to the industry. In fact it is the combination that makes our industry very strong and gives us a gross national product that gives us some influence when it comes to research about horse illnesses through the various departments of agriculture.

We can approach the Congress as a potent and viable industry ranking way up there on the feeding chain. Without that rank we would lose all impetous to develop the horse farm and breeding programs for the benefit of an USA horse product. We would not be able to conserve open acreage for the use of horses and the tax benefits which derive from Farmland Assessment. If for example the horse was considered a companion animal instead of a farm product we could lose everything that makes this sport financially viable. Under the USET plan I see that as a very serious threat.

I see nothing in the USET plan that would account either for the ladder to the grassroots or increase our financial position as a sport. I think their plan might make some very rich people who don't care much because they have enough money but it would certainly destroy all motivation for the little horse farm which is the backbone of this industry. If all the other breeds and disciplines except for the International level are relegated to the 3rd rung on the ladder you will see the sport as an industry collapse and you have our sport defined only as a participating hobby.

Don't ever forget that there are no tax rates on ice skates or tennis rackets and soccor balls. They can all be stored in one closet. I susspect that is what Straussburger was trying to say in his editorial.

Jan. 22, 2001, 09:08 PM
was originally proposed by the AHSA in the first meeting back in November.

Their plan was to eliminate the AHSA as we now know it, and creat a new organization that addresses all the issues and addresses them equally. That organization would put the international functions in its own branch (formerly known as the USET).

This structure was based on what has happened in other sports, and this was proposed, I REPEAT, at the FIRST meeting. The current USET proposal is very much based on what they were given by the AHSA (IMHO) - even to the organization's name.

Read the press releases. Notice the dates. Read the IOC information (posted, I believe, on both the AHSA & USET web sites.) Read the USOC Fact Sheet. Read the proposals (I can send anyone who is interested the AHSA presentation and other information in pdf - Adobe Acrobat - format for easier reading. You must have Acrobat Reader 4.0, however.)

If this new organization comes to fruition, the dues and fees structure will probably change - your h/j dues will go to the nhjc and not to the ahsa - that was the point of the fee restructuring a couple of years ago - to charge people by how much of the org they use. H/J has always been directly run by the AHSA, as verses dressage & CT which go through their own orgs. With the new system, a percentage of your dues will go to the national organization, but most will stay within your discipline. Ideally, that is. /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

Jan. 23, 2001, 05:40 AM
Your explanation has helped me a lot, TinyTot. Whichever organization assumes the highest mantle and subjugates the other, that "system" of coordination does make a lot of sense.

What I'm still not sure of is why USET isn't willing to function as an important "branch" of US Equestrian. Why does it have to BE "US Equestrian"? And if it were to become that, what and who would IT'S "branches" be and how would they be coordinated by it? It sounds like USET doesn't want that additional "coordination" role at all, while AHSA does. Doesn't that imply that USET's function would be best suited as a significant branch rather than the penultimate authority?

Sportponies Unlimited
Specializing in fancy, athletic, 3/4-TB ponies.
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Jan. 23, 2001, 08:40 AM
From COTH's report...

AHSA:"[T]o develop economies of scale, improved funding, and a comprehensive equestrian sports marketing strategy.

"This is not just about picking an Olympic team. We can�t separate that from all the other sports," said Olympic gold medalist David O�Connor, also an SPI member.

USET: [C]reates an NGB for which the focus would be the development and preparation of teams and individuals for international competition.

"The key is to maximize the ability for sustained international competitive excellence," Armand Leone Jr. told the board.

Sportponies Unlimited
Specializing in fancy, athletic, 3/4-TB ponies.
Shameless signature plugplugplug.

Jan. 23, 2001, 08:55 AM
Thanks for your explanation, Tiny Tot. I do appreciate it, and I appreciate your position. I'm still left with the delegation question, however.

As I read the Amateur Sports Act and the USOC Charter and rules, the NGB cannot delegate any of the core functions of the NGB. For the FEI-recognized horse disciplines, those functions include not only applying FEI rules for the big classes at shows but actually licensing and training the judges and officials, and actually conducting the drug testing, and actually having a protest, hearing, and discipline system in place for anything that might affect one's ability to qualify to compete internationally.

How does the USET-proposed system work, for example, if a Big Time Rider was also the trainer of a hunter who got caught with prohibited substances in its system? Big Time Rider/Trainer gets set down by the AHSA for a year, and can't participate in AHSA sanctioned competitions. Assuming the USET rules would still allow this person to compete in the $25+ GPs, it still means Big Time Rider/Trainer can't take his/her students and horses to AHSA shows, and he/she cannot compete in any of the Open Jumper classes leading to the big GP. Wouldn't that directly affect the ability of Big Time Trainer to qualify to compete internationally, thus creating a major jurisdictional issue between the organizations?

This is one of the practical problems I have with the USET proposed system. In horse sports, the lines between "national" and "international" just aren't that clear. So far, the USET has not, publicly at least, provided answers to these practical questions and I, for one, am waiting for them to do so.

Jan. 23, 2001, 11:05 AM
I just finished reading a letter to the editor in defense of the USET plan published in the Horse of Delaware Valley.

This letter was flushed full of illogical metaphors and examples that contrary to the intent of the author proved the lack of ability for the USET to take on this job.

He complained for example about the poling rule which was finally passed having taken so long due to the the ineptness of the AHSA. This was blatantly untrue. I was at the convention where this issue was first brought forward. It was an international athlete who got up and said that this rule was too harsh and if this rule were passed it would simply force them all to break the rule and they would hide the facts from the powers by protecting each other. It was an international athlete that triggered the defeat of this rule years ago and it is they who kept the rule in limbo.

He also addressed the issue of one rider and one horse in high level competition. Those Olympic level riders with a barn full of quality horses which belong to their clients would be the first to object. Certainly the objection wouldn't come from us little folks.

He uses these arguments to show the validity of the international riders managing their own affairs, obviously, this would never be successful. He wants limtations on the cost of entering these classes where the prize money is over $25,000 but he doesn't explain how then the costs of running the show would be covered.

It would appear he has the grandious view that some kind of subsidy for the costs will permit these riders to compete if the USET is in charge. This is not what I read in the regulations of the USOC. He did not say a word about the ladder so that every child would know that it was possible to be on the Olympic team as a reason why the USET proposal was better.

Jan. 23, 2001, 11:20 AM
"...He did not say a word about the ladder so that every child would know that it was possible to be on the Olympic team as a reason why the USET proposal was better..."

OR why every horseperson should care and contribute to efforts to field that team.

It occurs to me that USET doesn't NEED the lower levels (financially) to field a team. They have the big-time contributors who have taken up the slack for years (and have had horse after horse after horse on the teams), so the lower levels are truly unimportant to them.

If this is true, I hope that the USOC still has the morals to recognize that this approach is hardly in the true spirit of the Olympics.

Sportponies Unlimited
Specializing in fancy, athletic, 3/4-TB ponies.
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Jan. 23, 2001, 11:33 AM
Tiny Tot - thanks for your explanation - so far you have offered a more comprehensive explanation of the USET's plan than the USET has... (or at least that I have seen).

One problem I have, is the same one Portia mentioned... delegation. As things currently are handled, those special USET rules for +25K classes are handled by people licensed and approved by the AHSA. That would clearly not be an acceptable situation under the USET plan and the delegation issues bought about by the Ted Stevens act. So we are back to 2 sets of officials at one event (or one set that goes to the trouble of getting licensed by two organizations, with what will eventually be divergent qualification standards). This would, at the very least, increase exhibitor costs (and if the extra cost is applied ONLY to those people participating in USET level events, this might be disproportionate).

The other issue is again tied to Portia's excellent analogy about Big Time Rider. What if BTR is contested during schooling for the Friday smaller prix (commonly used to sharpen horses for the bigger USET class on Sunday) - let's say the issue was offsets. Could BTR still ride on Sunday?

All in all, I see a lot of confusion given that riders and horses will frequently cross in and out of what would be two somewhat divided organizations.

My biggest concern with the USET is not that they don't have a sound plan, but that they seem to offer no real comprehensive, logical thought out argument WHY their plan is better for me, Joe Exhibitor (because let's face it, the Joe Exhibitors of this world are WHY we can afford to send teams to the Olympics). Maybe I'm missing something, but I almost get the feeling that it's like "Hey, it's better because we say it is." That ain't good enough for me in work or politics, I won't make it acceptable in my hobby.

Jan. 23, 2001, 08:32 PM
Everyone wants a team that can win. There seems little doubt that the USET can do that job. So why is it so difficult for reasonable people to find a solution?

Territory, is the cuprit, and supremacy seems to be the goal for the USET while the AHSA offers compromise. Why is it so difficult for reasonable people to compromise?

Judging from many other threads it is clear that to go into the 21st Century we don't need a top down association that doesn't understand the attitude against elitism and doesn't comprehend that the 80,000 supporters of the USET are not dedicated to the pursuit of excellence at all costs.

Jan. 24, 2001, 09:47 AM
Published in the New York Times. All is not well in USET lands. Their future does not look very secure does it?

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>January 24, 2001

Market Place: Lucent Tries to Sell Golf Course


f Lucent Technologies, as expected, announces a corporate revamping today that includes a
write-down and the elimination of thousands of jobs, its investors and employees may also want to
hear about the company's outlay of more than $40 million the last two years to create one of the
world's most exclusive golf courses.

Although the project was never announced, or clearly spelled out in Lucent's financial documents, since
1998 Lucent has backed the construction of the Hamilton Farm Golf Club, a rambling, 36-hole
complex in the town of Peapack-Gladstone in the heart of the New Jersey fox-hunting country. The
complex includes a helicopter-landing pad, a guest home of 20,000 square feet with 10 suites, a wine
cellar and tasting room and a full-time concierge.

Until recently, Lucent had planned for Hamilton Farm to sell memberships in the club to 18 large
corporations for $1 million apiece, in addition to charging annual fees of several hundred thousand
dollars a year. That plan never materialized, though several high-ranking Lucent executives did play on
the course.

The aim of the club under Richard A. McGinn, a former chief executive who was ousted by Lucent's
board in October, was to create an exclusive meeting place for executives from a close circle of large

But now, with Lucent scrambling to cut costs, the company is trying to disentangle itself from the golf
club. To sell the property, Lucent has offered to be the sole guarantor on a $45 million loan to three
companies interested in buying it, according to documents of the financing proposal.

The documents were provided to The New York Times by a person close to the golf course project,
and their authenticity was confirmed by the company. Neither Mr. McGinn nor Henry B. Schacht, a
previous chairman and chief executive who has returned to those jobs on an interim basis, could be
reached for comment.

Lucent's involvement in Hamilton Farm, embarked upon when its earnings and stock price were
highflying, exemplifies the company's lofty ambitions when it became the world's largest maker of
communications equipment after its spinoff from AT&T in 1996. The current attempt to quietly extract
itself from the project underscores Lucent's reversal of fortunes in the last year, as it has repeatedly
fallen short of earnings forecasts and its stock price has dropped 62 percent.

"In the heady days of the late 1990's they may have thought this would have worked," said Finn M. W.
Caspersen, a wealthy investor in Peapack-Gladstone, whose recent offer to buy the golf course from
Lucent for about $25 million in cash was turned down. "They had what I considered to be a flawed
business model," he added, referring to Hamilton Farm.

Lucent, through its support of the Daylar Group, a Connecticut real estate development company,
provided about $18 million in financing for the sprawling 5,000-acre Hamilton Farm in 1998. Lucent's
total investment in the property after the subsequent construction of the golf course was more than $40
million, people close to Lucent said.

While Lucent, based nearby in Murray Hill, N.J., has never detailed its involvement in the golf course in
its financial documents, it has been closely involved in the management of Hamilton Farm.

Tony Marano, Lucent's vice president for real estate, was required to sign any check of more than
$5,000 related to the property's expenses, people close to the company said. And a telephone list of
administrative contacts distributed to employees at the club's headquarters provided the contact
information for Mr. Marano and his executive assistant, next to a statement reading: "These numbers
are not to be given out."

It was after the ouster of Mr. McGinn in October that Mr. Schacht, the interim chief executive, became
aware of Lucent's involvement in the golf course, said Kathleen M. Fitzgerald, a company

Under Mr. Schacht, Lucent underwent an internal review of its operations and announced last month
that it would restate financial results for the quarter ended in September, reducing revenue by $679
million after it became clear the company was too aggressive in recording sales.

"Henry decided it was not the best use of our assets," Ms. Fitzgerald said. "We're confident a sales
agreement would allow us to recoup our initial investment."

The property's elite character dates to 1911, when James Cox Brady, a New York financier, acquired
land next to the estate of Charles Pfizer, the pharmaceuticals magnate. Next to stables with Shetland
ponies and Clydesdale horses, Brady built a 64-room Georgian brick mansion with 11 fireplaces and a
chapel with stained-glass windows.

The Beneficial Corporation, a financial institution whose chairman was Mr. Caspersen, eventually
acquired the farm and allowed the United States Equestrian Team to train for the Olympic games on its
grounds. After Lucent took over Hamilton Farm in 1998 from Household International, which had
acquired Beneficial, Lucent allowed the equestrian team to continue training on part of the property.

But Lucent's construction of two 18-hole golf courses on the property drew the ire of nearby residents
who became concerned about the project's potential impact on the community.

"The opening of this golf course frankly threatens our way of life," said David Troast, president of Essex
Fox Hounds, a fox-hunting group in the area. "It's not only a threat to local fox hunting but to the entire
cultural landscape."

Mr. Troast's concern was echoed by David Peifer, executive director of the Upper Raritan Watershed
Association, a local environmental preservation group. "The amount of water wasted on a golf course
this size is astonishing," he said. "You would think that Lucent would have had more on its mind than
golf privileges."

Under Lucent's plan, the 18 corporate members were to designate 10 representatives each that could
use the club, so that no more than 180 people could frequent the property at any time. Lucent was
planning to keep at least one corporate membership for itself, in addition to maintaining some
administrative control over the club.

Lucent is seeking to transfer ownership of the Hamilton Farm Golf Club to a group that includes
Townsend Capital, an investment company in Towson, Md.; the Buena Vista Hospitality Group, a
golf-management company based in Tampa, Fla.; and Bill Howell Associates, an operator of boutique
hotels. PNC Capital Markets of Philadelphia is arranging the financing proposal.

According to people close to the companies involved, the golf complex's new owners would use a
more conventional membership structure, with more members paying lower fees. Part of the deal would
allow Lucent to remain a member of the club. Lucent expects to complete the transaction within two
months, people close to the company said.

Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company

[This message was edited by Snowbird on Jan. 24, 2001 at 11:52 AM.]

Ruby G. Weber
Jan. 24, 2001, 10:01 AM
If a rider is suspended by the FEI, they are automatically suspended by their federation, usually during the same period of time. It works the other way around also.

Also, most shows prohibit poling or the use of offsets during the show, not just the twenty four hour period before the Computer List event.

Speaking to that, there is a movement underfoot to run all classes which count toward the Computer List under all FEI rules (not just the no poling). That would include a formal jog and of course FEI medications rules.

The reason behind this is that the Computer List is used to pick a team for Spruce Meadows as well as other International competitions. The thinking is we need to run our qualifiers under the same rules the horse will compete. Presently, that is not always the case.

In all of these discussions I have read alot of theory and wonder about the practical aspects of all of this.

[This message was edited by Emmet on Jan. 24, 2001 at 12:09 PM.]

Jan. 24, 2001, 01:46 PM
Snowbird or anyone else who knows, what is the story behind the Gladstone property and the USET? I'm in the dark here. I remember reading a bit about the furor a couple of years ago when Beneficial sold the land for the golf courses, but I thought there was some way it was all smoothed over so that the USET was guaranteed some kind of rights to use the land and actually bought part of it outright. (That all happened before these boards raised my consciousness!)

The article says that Lucent let the USET continue to use the property. Does the USET own any of the Gladstone property, or lease it, or is it just some kind of guest?

Jan. 24, 2001, 02:11 PM

Jan. 24, 2001, 03:26 PM
Heavy-duty audit. /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

Jan. 25, 2001, 08:40 AM
From this section of the above article

"The Beneficial Corporation, a financial institution whose chairman was Mr. Caspersen, eventually
acquired the farm and allowed the United States Equestrian Team to train for the Olympic games on its
grounds. After Lucent took over Hamilton Farm in 1998 from Household International, which had
acquired Beneficial, Lucent allowed the equestrian team to continue training on part of the property. "

I take it that the USET Headquarters never actually belonged to the USET? I would never have guessed that from the USET literature.

Jan. 25, 2001, 10:24 AM
It would appear that the USET was a welcomed user of the land but never had any title to it. While Beneficial owned the land there was not any other use and possibly they paid the taxes to keep the land from being a liability for Beneficial and Beneficial listed it as an asset or Casperson paid the taxes as his donation.

We were told that the USET was going to stay and use 100 acres with access to some of the balance. The impression certainly was that the USET had been deeded the 100 acres. I have not found anyone yet who can say for certain that the USET is the taxpayer on the records as a land owner, or that a deed to those acres was ever filed. There are some people trying to find that out.

I strongly doubt now that it is true. Since they had agreed to 113 acres for Green Acres that sounds to me like the land of the USET and perhaps one other section where there was a private estate or house on the extra 13 acres. Since part of the original plan was houses in conjuction with the golf course they would have wanted to keep all the acreage accountable in order to use it as an amenity. Frequently in this area you can dedicate part of the acreage as open land and use that acreage to get approval for cluster housing.

If for example there was a zoning requirement of 10 acres per house, they could put the houses on a 5 acre lot and the open space could be counted in for another 5 acres per house. So far as we know the paper work for the Green Acres has not been executed on the 113 acres.

I don't know how much acreage is used by the golf courses, let's say perhaps 100 acres per course so
you can see there is probably about 200 acres left for houses. I cannot imagine that they would sign over 100 acres worth about $20 million for nothing and then another 113 acres for Green Acres. That surely would be a bad business plan.(by the way that could be where the rumor started that the USET had $20 million in assets)

My guess is that the township will have something to say about expanding the use by golfers as a violation of zoning codes for this new group. A Membership fee of $1 million does limit the possible members. And, whatever the annual management fees could be very heroic and keep the commoners out. The township may not approve of the new plans in which case this group of buyers will back out and the land will be up for grabs again.

I assume although I haven't checked that it's zoned residential and the golf courses required a limited variance while the Hamilton Farm buildings were grandfathered.