The 2010 USEF Annual Meeting: Wrap-Up
By USEF Communications Department
From award galas to lengthy committee meetings, the 2010 United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Annual Meeting proved to be a very busy five days. Leaders from the many USEF Affiliate Associations gathered for the opportunity to interact with the USEF Board of Directors and USEF Committee members to shape the future of equestrian sport while, at the same time, celebrating the stand-out accomplishments in the sport in 2009.
At the second meeting of the USEF Board of Directors on Thursday, January 14, new Directors Lisa Gorretta, Phillip Dutton, Laura Kraut, Geoff Teall and Skip Thornbury were seated. Each Working Group elected a Vice President; Dr. Armand Leone will lead the International High-Performance Working Group, Judy Werner will head up the Administration and Finance Working Group, Janine Malone was elected to lead the FEI Affiliates Working Group and Bill Hughes will serve as the Vice President of the National Affiliates Working Group. The Nominating Committee proposed that Bill Moroney, Howard Simpson and Mike Tomlinson round out the Executive Committee along with the Vice Presidents of the Working Groups and the National Officers David O’Connor (President), Chrystine Tauber (Secretary) and Keith Bartz (Treasure).
The Board received reports from several equestrian sport entities including the USET Foundation, the USA Equestrian Trust and the American Horse Council. Keith Bartz, USEF Treasurer, reported that, “Due to the extraordinary efforts by the staff to contain and reduce expenses wherever possible, the Federation was able to end the year with a net surplus from operations for 2009 of $1,394,076 – a favorable variance to budget of $875,650.”
Four hundred three Rule Change Proposals were submitted to the USEF Annual Meeting, 51 committees meetings were held to discuss the proposed changes and other business matters of the sport. At the fourth meeting of the Board on Sunday, January 17, 317 rules were voted into the Rule Book from the consent calendar, and another 23 were adopted from the floor.
Many awards were presented to worthy recipients beginning with the Silver Stirrup Awards presented on Thursday evening, January 14. These awards recognize performances of Performance Horse Registry (PHR) horses at all levels of competition in every major discipline. The program also recognizes leading sires, owners and breeders. A video of highlights can be found online at http://www.clubequestrian.com/videos/watch/1543.aspx.
Friday evening represented the highlight of the awards season for the many USEF members who came to Louisville to receive their year-end honors at the Farnam/Platform USEF Horse of the Year Awards celebration. The event was packed with a diverse crowd of winners. It was also the event where the overall Horse of the Year was awarded. After votes were tallied from the USEF Board of Directors, equestrian media and the USEF membership-at-large, superstar dressage horse Ravel was named the 2009 Farnam/Platform USEF Horse of the Year. Owner Akiko Yamazaki was in attendance and gave a moving acceptance speech where she thanked the horse’s entire team who happen to be a patchwork of nationalities from Japanese to Mexican to French and more. Yamazaki said, “Only in America can you have a success story like this.”
The final day of awards fell on Saturday with a President’s Luncheon where the Daniel P. Lenehan Trophy for Overall Media Excellence was presented to HorseTV for its video “CAI Live Oak CDE 2009.” The production was filmed and broadcast on the channel in a way that driving had rarely been portrayed. HorseTV’s Bernie Uechtritz was on-hand to accept. His interview can be found at http://www.clubequestrian.com/videos/watch/1554.aspx.
But, for many, the formality and prestige of the final gala stands out as the one to remember. The Pegasus Awards has a storied tradition of saluting great contributors and achievers of the past year, and 2009 was no exception. Awards for officials, breeders, sportsmanship and service are followed by the competitive sport champions, first being the Junior Equestrian of the Year. California’s Maxance McManamy put in an amazing year, and the eventer was both eloquent and entertaining in her acceptance of the highest award presented by the Federation to a youth. To see an interview with McManamy, visit http://www.clubequestrian.com/videos/watch/1560.aspx.
Five Equestrians of Honor were presented with individual trophies named for famed historic American equestrians, but of course, only one can be named the USEF Equestrian of the Year. This year, it was dressage great Steffen Peters who claimed the prize, and did so in back-to-back fashion after being named the winner in 2008, as well. In his classic style, Peters simply said, “It certainly was an amazing year, and I have to thank Ravel for that.” To see an interview with Peters, visit http://www.clubequestrian.com/videos/watch/1556.aspx.
In the final presentation of the evening, the USEF Lifetime Achievement Award and the Jimmy A. Williams Trophy was presented to Pennsylvania’s Jessica Newberry Ransehousen for her decades of participation and guidance of the U.S. dressage program. Since the 1950s, she has competed at the highest levels and lent her expertise to building the sport of dressage in our country. In a moving video tribute to her life, both George Morris and Robert Dover contributed commentary and praise of her skills and dedication. To view the video tribute, visit http://www.clubequestrian.com/videos/watch/1558.aspx.
While everyone looked forward to the many festive awards banquets, it was the numerous meetings that kept everyone busy. Nearly all committees discussed the proposal by the USEF Equine Drugs and Medications Committee to change the medications rule to permit only one non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to be present in the horse at the time of competition. Under the current USEF rules, no more than two of the seven approved and quantitatively restricted NSAIDs are permitted to be in the horse at the time of competition. [The one exception to this rule is that phenylbutazone (Bute) and flunixin (Banamine) are a forbidden combination, and they are never permitted together in the horse at the time of competition.] The USEF Board of Directors voted to approve the rule change with an effective date of 12/1/2011. An additional proposal submitted by the USHJA Task Force was approved that will require the use of a new NSAID Disclosure Form effective April 1, 2010. This form will be used until December 1, 2011, when the single NSAID rule becomes effective. The NSAID Disclosure Form will only be used when a horse has been administered two NSAIDS in the five days preceding competition, and must be filed in the show office prior to the horse competing.
Leaders from many Breed Affiliate Associations gathered to share ideas and seek opportunities to maximize the affiliation with the Federation. The Breed Retreat group met three times in 2009. Their agenda at the 2010 Annual Meeting included presentations from the USEF Marketing, Information Technology and Continuing Education departments. The group plans another meeting this March in Lexington.
The Breeders Committee meeting was primarily focused on ideas that promote the “American-Bred” performance horse sighting the need to create some sort of system that recognizes individuals who specialize in training young horses.
A meeting was held to discuss growing the Intercollegiate programs in equestrian sport. The USEF publishes a Guide for the Collegiate Equestrian that has been distributed from the USEF "On the Road" booth initiative. Plans for an improved Intercollegiate presence on the usef.org website was discussed.
The Recognized Breed Committees held 10 individual breed division committee meetings throughout the week to review rule changes and proposals to add various classes to their respective divisions, to discuss Horse of the Year programs and competition ratings. The Connemara/Welsh Committee decided to populate two separate committees in an effort to be more focused on the individual breed activities and increase USEF licensed competition in both breeds.
Twenty-one National, FEI and High-Performance Recognized Discipline Committees held meetings. These meetings were all well attended by Affiliate leaders, Active Athletes and Sport Programs staff liaisons. Additionally, the FEI and High-Performance Dressage Committees held a joint session where they discussed current issues and developmental program expansion.
The Competition Management Committee spent a good deal of time discussing competition liability waivers, to devise a process where members will sign a waiver when they join or renew thereby adding an additional layer of protection for the Federation and for competition managers.
The Continuing Education Committee shared their plans for the launch of the Competition Management Course in March 2010. This program has been developed with University of California Davis.
A record 34 members of the 44-member Licensed Officials Committee attended the meeting held Wednesday, January 13. The committee evaluated applications for enrollment, promotion and reinstatements along with clinic and officiating extension requests. In addition, the committee evaluated various proposed rule changes.
President David O’Connor set the agenda for the new Steward/Technical Delegates Committee. The committee’s mission was defined as setting policies and creating education and evaluation systems in order to bring in new stewards and technical delegates, motivate them to stay in the program and finally to help them conclude their careers honorably. A report from the Licensed Officials Committee defined current procedures for identifying officials who are in need of additional educational opportunities. The committee discussed several rule change proposals and suggested a clarification to the rules regarding conflict of interest between competitions, stewards/technical delegates and competitors.
The Safety Committee reviewed the 2009 accident and injury statistics and evaluated the first eight months of the Return to Competition Rule. It was observed that the implementation of the Return to Competition Rule has gone well and that the overall reporting of accidents and injuries has improved. New helmets, stirrups, protective vests and new technologies were discussed.
The Veterinary Committee discussed and recommended approval of the single NSAID rule change proposal submitted by the Equine Drugs and Medications Committee. Additionally, the Veterinary Committee discussed various practices in the horse show world that are of concern including the blocking of tails and the use of mouth appliances prior to competing. The committee placed two primary topics on the 2010 Agenda: 1) Investigate the emergency use of Banamine, and 2) Develop a prohibited practices list.
The USEF Youth Council took part in a training session to improve their leadership skills. Reports were presented regarding the FEI, and the creation of the Youth Council’s website. The council elected Kate Foy as their co-chair for the year. The subcommittee chairs gave a summary their subcommittee 2009 accomplishments followed by discussion regarding goals for 2010.