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  1. #1
    Weatherford is offline Schoolmaster Premium Member
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    John Strassberger's editorial on the AHSA and USET debacle is excellent!

    http://www.chronofhorse.com/commentary.html

    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!
    co-author of 101 Jumping Exercises & The Rider's Fitness Program; Soon to come: Dead Ringer - a tale of equine mystery and intrique! Former Moderator!



  2. #2
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    John Strassberger's editorial on the AHSA and USET debacle is excellent!

    http://www.chronofhorse.com/commentary.html

    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!
    co-author of 101 Jumping Exercises & The Rider's Fitness Program; Soon to come: Dead Ringer - a tale of equine mystery and intrique! Former Moderator!



  3. #3
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    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?



  4. #4
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    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?
    "I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?" Dave Barry



  5. #5
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    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.



  6. #6
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    You and Snowbird always have great information regarding the AHSA and the USET! Thank you. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]
    "All life is precious"
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  7. #7
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    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.
    "I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?" Dave Barry



  8. #8
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    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.

    [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif[/img]



  9. #9
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    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.



  10. #10
    Weatherford is offline Schoolmaster Premium Member
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    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.
    co-author of 101 Jumping Exercises & The Rider's Fitness Program; Soon to come: Dead Ringer - a tale of equine mystery and intrique! Former Moderator!



  11. #11
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    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.



  12. #12
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    "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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  13. #13
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    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.



  14. #14
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    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.
    "I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?" Dave Barry



  15. #15
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    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.



  16. #16
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    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.



  17. #17
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    <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.



  18. #18
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    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.



  19. #19
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    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.]



  20. #20
    Weatherford is offline Schoolmaster Premium Member
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    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.
    co-author of 101 Jumping Exercises & The Rider's Fitness Program; Soon to come: Dead Ringer - a tale of equine mystery and intrique! Former Moderator!



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