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.
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.
<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.
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.
Specializing in fancy, athletic, 3/4-TB ponies.
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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.
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.]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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........
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.]
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.
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.
Some interesting information on the AHSA website:
Since there is a meeting on Tuesday, there is sure to be more to come.
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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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.