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  1. #1
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    Apr. 27, 2008
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    Default USEA membership - renew or not?

    So, it is that time of year again ... the time to wonder exactly where my 85 bucks a year goes when I send it to the USEA to renew my membership.

    Checking the USEA website ...
    http://useventing.com/

    On this day, a quick look shows 11 articles about everything BUT USEA eventing, everything NOT the 85% lower-level eventers that are the backbone of the organization, and should be its soul. And 1 article that I can loosely interpret as Relevant (the Pollard trailer research program.) Several of the stories are about things not even in the U.S., following American riders participating in a foreign FEI, not USEA event. That is abundantly covered elsewhere in the equine media. It *is* the USEA, isn't it?

    The USEA comes across to me, a plain ole lower-level eventer with no real resources or ambitions to go upper-level (the same as most of the membership,) as having long ago become lost in the star culture of */**/***/**** FEI divisions, the Olympics, the WEG ... all kinds of stuff that *isn't* USEA territory. The website is blindly immersed in FEI stuff that is being adequately covered by a lot of equine media. And not part of the USEA at all.

    I wish "my" organization had a website devoted in the majority of its content to the activities and interests of the vast majority of the organization - lower level riders.

    In the meantime, leaving big European events to take a look at USEA riders back at home ... a lot of improvements have been made to eventing generally in this country in the last 5 years or so. Somewhat more consistent courses and officiating - esp. west of the Appalachians (yep there are people out here.) That is good, and I should be grateful for bringing lower level eventing more consistently up to the standard of "adequate" in the places it had slipped, particularly in the west.

    However. At the lower levels - Scoring (time-keeping, penalty rules questions, etc.) is still haphazard. Many of the leadership starstruck by UL eventing are indifferent to the fact that for most eventers, lower level scoring IS the sport and what "competition" is all about. Officiating is improving, but can still be hit or miss. The division names continue the fiction that "Novice" is primarily populated by riders who are novice in their skills and experience, and will not stay in the division long. Even though stats have shown for years that most of them are lifers at the level. Appropriately so, given the dangers and needs of competing in higher divisions. As well as other poorly-thought-out naming that reflects badly on the participants and affects perceptions, attitudes and the respect due.

    The amateur adults who keep this sport financially afloat, through dues, lessons, horse purchases, entries, etc., are still being asked to pay another $25 to an organization that should already have them as the central focus (equally with lower level juniors.) And the amateur adults are still being pushed to the fringes at the annual meeting. In fact, as always, said meeting will highlight FEI riders as many of the speakers and panelists, as if competing in FEI divisions is a requirement to be an expert eventer, and a good horseperson. The principal address is by a British eventer whose life is devoted to FEI-level eventing, and who will most likely NOT be addressing the majority lower level eventers with her principal message.

    In fact, many lower level eventers don't see any value to attending the annual meeting because so little of it is for them.

    I would like to see the budget of the USEA. To see where my $85 is going. Is that available publicly somewhere? I didn't find it on the website (although that doesn't mean it isn't there.)

    How is my $85 being allocated across the divisions? I am afraid to know the answer -- but I want to know the answer.

    How many eventers renew solely to avoid the greater expense of the $25 non-member fee when you enter recognized competitions?

    ... and are wishing for an organization more focused on the majority base of the organization?



  2. #2
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by OverandOnward View Post
    How many eventers renew solely to avoid the greater expense of the $25 non-member fee when you enter recognized competitions?
    I admit to being baffled by most of your post, but this part has me completely confused. Except at Beginner Novice, USEA doesn't use "non-member fees". You HAVE to be a member to compete at Novice or above.

    However, I would assume that , yes, most riders pay their USEA dues in order to be able to compete in USEA recognized competitions.

    But the USEA is very concerned about the lower level riders who make up about 80% (last time I checked) of the membership.

    If you attend the open committee meetings (where the work gets done) instead of the "glamour" sessions with big names, you would see that there is a LOT of focus on the needs of the lower levels.
    Janet

    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).



  3. #3
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    Apr. 27, 2008
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    Default

    (among other things) You were baffled that the USEA website articles were focused on non-USEA topics? Not on the majority of the membership? I was baffled, too.

    What level rider do you consider yourself? Just for interest.



  4. #4
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    Jan. 6, 2011
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    Florida
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    Default

    I do six to ten events above BN each year. If I have a horse just going BN, I don;t pay to register him with the USEA. I have to renew and pay $85.
    I am on my phone 90% of the time. Please ignore typos, misplaced lower case letters, and the random word butchered by autocowreck.




  5. #5
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    Aug. 17, 2004
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    Rixeyville, VA
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    Default

    The USEA is a non-profit educational organization. It's annual budget MUST be made public, just as it's annual tax filings (Form 990) are available for public review. If any member wants this information, all you have to do is ask for it. At least that has been my experience working for non-profit membership associations.

    The reasons for joining USEA are as varied as the individuals who are USEA members. As Janet points out, you need to be a member to compete at Novice and above. BN doesn't require membership, but that non-member fee adds up. Also, membership has other benefits such as award programs that people like. Some folks really like the magazine. It just depends. I happen to be a non-competing member. I feel that I'm making a contribution to the sport by paying my dues. Next year I don't expect to have a horse eventing, but I will still be a non-competing member all the same and volunteer.

    If the OP feels the USEA can improve, then my suggestion is to get involved with it. Agitating on the outside is not as effective as working from the inside for most organizations. I definitely understand and agree with some of the OP's critique, but I think the best way to address it is to take the change inside the organization.
    Where Norwegian Fjords Rule
    http://www.ironwood-farm.com



  6. #6
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    Dec. 19, 2009
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    Pennsylvania
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    Default

    Not a member here, but I'm about to gladly renew DD's membership. Even though she only showed one recognized this past year (at a level where membership is necessary) she planned/plans on doing more. She attended a USEA Young Riders 'camp' this summer that was absolutly fantastic and far more affordable that doing individual lessons/clinics with the UL riders that worked with her there. The camp only had about 4 Prelim riders, the rest were lower. I'd say that was a nice perk of her membership this past year.

    The website, well take it or leave it. You don't have to be a member to look at the website, do you? Go over and read EN if you don't like the USEA website. Also check out your area website instead of the national one, that's where you'll find the local clinics, meetings, and other benefits of membership.



  7. #7
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    Jun. 25, 2004
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    Carolinas
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    Default

    I am also baffled. The USEA is a sub committee of the USEF which a member of the FEI, soooo we are all related.
    The folks competing overseas were once "Novice" riders. The lower level divisions are where the next generation of international riders reside. You and I don' t know who will be encouraged by these stories to go for the half-star or one-star or higher competition. We must remember that our circumstances are our own, not everyone else's. There always be, and always has been, people who top out at a specific level.

    Back in the dark ages the USCTA, predecessor of the USEA, focused on the upper levels. I loved the January/February issue which almost always had an article from the team winter training in Mass. One year it was Kim Walnes, whose partner The Grey Goose is being honored at the annual meeting this year.

    As to your membership renewal, you can chose to be part of the solution or sit outside and complain. I suggest renewing and participating. You may find some of you current "beliefs" to be less than accurate.
    "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
    Courtesy my cousin Tim



  8. #8
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    Jun. 28, 2003
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    KY, USA
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    Default

    Fascinating dichotomy of responses, with apparently neither side of the issue understanding what the other is saying - probably a symptom of present (and past) issues.

    Agree with the US vs international - the USEF is responsible for Prelim and above, whether national or international, IMO.

    Agree I'd like to see more USEA (and Eventing Nation and ..............) attention to the rank and file local events.

    Again IMO, each individual should make the decision, "Am I getting my money's worth with this membership $$?" If the answer is yes, pay up. If the answer is no, don't; pretty simple. I let my USEA membership lapse a couple of years ago when they quit publishing the paper Omnibus - the only thing left of value to me (my daughters continue to be active members, so I've got plenty of access to magazines, etc.).

    Rather than disagreeing with each other, suggest we each step back and think "Why is this person taking a position that I disagree with?" In the long term, the people on this board are much more alike than different and when differences exist it's healthy, particularly if we try to understand why.



  9. #9
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    Jun. 16, 2009
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    Gray Court, SC
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by secretariat View Post
    Fascinating dichotomy of responses, with apparently neither side of the issue understanding what the other is saying - probably a symptom of present (and past) issues.
    Very well put. As I read the OP's comments the core that struck me was a concern as to where membership fees are focused. On the surface the USEA looks like it focuses on a pretty small group of riders (UL, Euro-Centric) and leaving the small fry to fend for themselves. In principle I connect with that view, but I'm okay with that public stance and will happily renew.

    An organization like USEA has to have a split personality in today's world. Like in the show "Dirty Jobs", there are things those folks do that are not that interesting or news worthy, but go to continue the effort of supporting Eventing in the US. UL riders may be the stars and us AAs the stage help, but even stars know the show don't go on without everyone being a part of the show. USEA attempts to perform a herculean task of building the sport from the grass roots while helping put the best US riders on the World stage. Of course they could do better, but only if they get feedback from us.

    As Janet and others point out, part of our responsibility as members (besides paying for it) is to help the organization continue to improve. If you got problems with how they represent AA or the 80%, tell them with ideas. Get others to agree, here, or via petition so they see value. We can say "You Stink" all day, but if we don't show them how to take a bath, shame on us.

    So often I read on this website complaints about this or that, from the masses up to the demi-gods like Denny Emerson, but rare is there the follow up of ideas to make the correction. MP recently wrote an amazing article that did both, sparking commentary, but also fantastic ideas for the future. The easy part is the complaint, the hard part is coming up with the solution.

    I found this on their website:

    The core purpose of the United States Eventing Association is to promote and advance the sport of eventing.
    Goals:
    • The USEA will be its members indispensable (go to) resource for education, safety, horse welfare, certification, training and information.
    • The USEA will be a leader in making eventing competition more user-friendly, enjoyable, efficient, simpler and affordable.
    • The USEA will be the driving force to promote the sport of eventing (horse triathlon) as a recognized spectator sport.
    • The USEA will be significantly more financially secure and stable in order to achieve its strategic direction.
    If they are not meeting these goals then let us hold them to the fire. In the mean time, ask for the budget, see what happens.

    (Turns out I'm pondering their meeting the affordable goal, but they don't have complete control of Event pricing).



  10. #10
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    Sep. 18, 2004
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    New England
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    859

    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by Janet View Post
    I admit to being baffled by most of your post, but this part has me completely confused. Except at Beginner Novice, USEA doesn't use "non-member fees". You HAVE to be a member to compete at Novice or above.

    However, I would assume that , yes, most riders pay their USEA dues in order to be able to compete in USEA recognized competitions.

    But the USEA is very concerned about the lower level riders who make up about 80% (last time I checked) of the membership.

    If you attend the open committee meetings (where the work gets done) instead of the "glamour" sessions with big names, you would see that there is a LOT of focus on the needs of the lower levels.
    Active members make change! And, as an active member in our local Area, it is hard to generate interest in writing articles for our Newsletter. Whenever I've submitted something to the USEA, they've taken the time to publish it.

    If you want to see more articles on the general population, write them. Or if you're an Area 1 member, email or call me and I'll write it for you.

    Keeping Eventing alive is all of our responsibilities. Without a strong organization, Events - recognized and unrecognized have to survive on their own...

    JOIN! That's my answer!



  11. #11
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    Jun. 25, 2004
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by secretariat View Post
    Fascinating dichotomy of responses, with apparently neither side of the issue understanding what the other is saying - probably a symptom of present (and past) issues.

    Agree with the US vs international - the USEF is responsible for Prelim and above, whether national or international, IMO.

    Agree I'd like to see more USEA (and Eventing Nation and ..............) attention to the rank and file local events.

    Again IMO, each individual should make the decision, "Am I getting my money's worth with this membership $$?" If the answer is yes, pay up. If the answer is no, don't; pretty simple. I let my USEA membership lapse a couple of years ago when they quit publishing the paper Omnibus - the only thing left of value to me (my daughters continue to be active members, so I've got plenty of access to magazines, etc.).

    Rather than disagreeing with each other, suggest we each step back and think "Why is this person taking a position that I disagree with?" In the long term, the people on this board are much more alike than different and when differences exist it's healthy, particularly if we try to understand why.
    Something everyone needs to understand:
    The USEA is subordinate to the USEF
    The USEA, as a sub-committee of the USEF, oversees Eventing BN through Advance.
    The rules for Eventing are maintained at the USEF level with input from the USEA rules committe, the rank&file (check USEA convention meetings) and input from the FEI.
    The same eventing rule book is used for BN as with Advance.
    The USEF governs officials - judges/TD's/stewards. However the USEA provides discipline specific training - just as the USDF for Dressage officials, etc.
    Everyone riding at the UL's had to start at the LL's. Depending on where you live, you may find a current or prior team rider in your OBN/ON or BNH/NH divisions

    What does bug me is the attitude of: "I am Smurf - hear me roar".
    The Captain is gone so let his attitude go with him.
    The USEA, and the USCTA before, frequently acknowedges the majority of members compete at Training or lower.
    The USEA supports the AEC's and the Adult Team Championships. National and Area Rankings including Amateur (Adult and Master) are listed online and in the magazine.
    The top placed riders/horses at each level (BN-Adv) are recognized at the annual meeting.

    All organizations always highlight the top level performers. So expect to see alot of info on the UL competitors especially when the major competitions are in full swing.
    Personally - I see an organization doing their best to react to all members. Given the variety of competitors someone will always feel slighted.
    "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
    Courtesy my cousin Tim



  12. #12
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    Jan. 19, 2005
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    PA
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    Default

    I would say obviously the OP (and others) has done very little to use their membership.

    Our Area II adult riders are VERY active. Sponsoring clinics, grants and a ton of activities for all levels but mostly lower levels. And is largely funded by the USEA.

    The Eventing Mag. always has a ton of articles covering a wide assortment of topics. So perhaps there is more on the website at the moment on UL stuff...that isn't always the case. And honestly....I personally find some of that interesting even if I don't plan on competing at the highest level of the sport.

    But I renew so that I may compete. And my membership costs are a tiny drop in the bucket of the costs that go into organizing an event. I prefer the recognized events and the quality of the courses. If you do not....then there is no reason to join.


    Renew or not...it is your choice. But I found the OP's rant to be a bit uninformed. If they don't want to be a member....then don't. But it isn't just the lower level riders that support this organization. In my area, you go in a Novice division...and the bulk is full of Pro riders (4* riders) on young horses or client horses. You go to an event where they go...and they are filling more than 1/2 the entries. We are all apart of this sport...at all levels.
    Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; Oct. 16, 2012 at 12:38 PM.
    ** The difference between genius and stupidity is genius has its limits. -- Albert Einstein **



  13. #13
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    Feb. 4, 2004
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    Default

    Hm, I only renew mine to go to events, not so much for the magazine or website articles. Same with USEF. Most of those articles aren't even about eventing.

    Not sure I follow you on the naming. "Novice" does sound low level, but so does "Preliminary" (which is actually called novice in other countries). "Advanced" is the only one that sounds really cool.

    However, I think your other concerns, about not having a positive experience at the events themselves, are important. If you feel like they are poorly run and officiated, perhaps they are not worth the $ (or should be improved--not sure if there are channels besides event evaluations to take your officiating concerns?).

    Do you have quality unrecognized events in your area that you would do if you didn't renew?



  14. #14
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    I, too, have only gone to one recognized event over the past year, where I needed my membership.

    However....I will be renewing this year, as I have done for the past 20 years. If we don't support our organization, then we have no right to complain when our sport disappears...
    "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

    So, the Zen Buddhist says to the hotdog vendor, "Make me one with everything."



  15. #15
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    Mar. 17, 2009
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    Didn't renew last year, and always wait until the show season starts (spring, here) before I decide.

    As for the sport disappearing, we have a vibrant state-level organization that is ALL about the lower levels, not to mention that organizers have told me it provides far fewer headaches and nightmares than USEA. I spend my money, time, and volunteering effort there.



  16. #16
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    Jan. 27, 2008
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    Default

    I will say first off: JOIN!

    I have the same discussion (in my head) every year, and at the risk of irritating a different group of people, I will say...compare what your membership in the USEA gets you to what a USDF membership gets you! You will likely find, as I have, that you get good bang for your buck from USEA and a MUCH more LL-friendly attitude!

    I usually join both, because I am showing both, but I will tell you, I don't join the USDF until I have to to enter a show! Therefore, if something goes wrong and I don't end up showing recognized dressage, I'm not out that money. On that side of the fence, I ONLY join to be able to show--there really aren't any other benefits unless I want to pay MORE to participate in other things (a lot more!)

    I join USEA regardless because I feel like they are working HARD to improve our sport across the levels, maintain good communication, operate in the BLACK, publish good hard copy and e-magazines, develop programs like YEH, FEH and NEH and I could go on and on!

    The USEA works hard to be inclusive and I truly think that if I had an issue, I could call or email them and they would at the very least listen to me! I can't say that about every professional organization I belong to...

    Something else to consider is that the USEA spends a lot of time covering the upper level stuff because that is what people want to read about! How many people want to read lots of articles about people just like them, who are plugging away at Novice or BN? It's much more sexy and exciting to read about the riders who were doing that x number of years ago and have now made good, rocking it out at the 2 and 3 star levels
    TPR!
    Thoroughbred Placement Resources, Inc
    www.goodhorse.org



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2003
    Location
    Middleburg, VA
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    Default

    I pay my dues (to both USEA and USEF) for the privilege to compete. By competing in sanctioned/recognized events I have access to well designed courses that are safely built, well trained officials, EMTs, and vets on site. The rules are clearly written and while I may not agree with all of them, they are there for me to read and understand. If I have a question, one of those well trained officials is available to answer it.

    My dues pay for the hard working staff in the office in Leesburg, who field my calls and emails, register my horses, etc, etc, etc. Their duties go on and on and are probably far more than most people realize. They keep the website up and running so I can look up events, dressage tests, results, rules, and other various info (I almost never read any of the news on the site).

    I do not pay for the magazine or the stories on the website. In fact, I decline to have the magazine sent to me. It is unimportant to me.

    And, sorry, but I would kill to go to the convention and hear Mary King speak. And, honestly, I don't know how she wouldn't be inspiring and worth listening to no matter what level you ride at. She is the mother of two, and manages to ride at the very top with a rather small operation, compared to her counterparts, and does it with class, humility, and charm. Seriously? How is that not worth it? I wish I could get to CO!!!



  18. #18
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    Highly recommend Mary King if you can go - she's a hoot, down to earth, and funny.



  19. #19
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    Default

    I for one don't really consider the website as the be-all and end-all of the organization, and if during an Olympic year there is a lot of emphasis on overseas competition and upper-level stuff, well, I can understand that. Let's be honest with ourselves--do we REALLY want to read article after article about how a plucky 13-year-old kid took her aunt's Mustang to a blue ribbon at an event that's 500 miles away from where we live? Those are great stories, but not headline material.

    I'm sort of ambivalent about the whole upper level/lower level dichotomy. I do think there is one, but do I as a permanent smurf do not expect to be considered as headline material, nor to have the things that concern me starring "front and center" in magazines or on websites.

    I do think that a lot of things that are relevant to amateurs and lower level riders get addressed, or so it appears, at the annual meeting. As I've never gone to one (doesn't even make page 1 of things I have time for) I don't really feel qualified to critique or comment, but that to me is a far more relevant venue for bringing up smurfy "issues".

    I guess if one has a very legitimate and genuine beef, it is always one's prerogative to "vote with the checkbook" and not renew. Probably a letter outlining the reasons why would get the point across rather than just silently lapsing away. And good luck competing at recognized Novice or above as a non-member--you can't.

    All organizations are flawed, as they are made up of flawed beings known as "humans". This one is not the worst I can think of, and they have my support. If I have a particular beef, I take it up with the relevant individual.
    Click here before you buy.



  20. #20
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    Feb. 12, 2011
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    I'm definitely renewing and think the USEA does a very good job. The new website is fantastic and while I have never been to a convention, it sounds like they do a phenomenal job addressing issues across the sport. I think they communicate well across the board and are truly trying to make our sport safer for both horse and rider.

    However...
    Count me in the group that would like to see where my money is going and here's why. I can't offer constructive suggestions if I don't know how it's allocated. I don't think they waste it (although reading this thread on Xentry did make my blood simmer a bit - http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/sh...ghlight=xentry) but in order to have fresh thoughts, folks need information on the status quo. And maybe they're spending money on initiatives they think are value-added but in reality, the majority of folks don't see it as value-added like the magazine. In today's digital age, I think they could do away with the paper version and make it available online. I barely glance at it (mostly because all of the information is dated) and I would rather those funds be used for something else like grants for upper-level riders to go abroad (even as a lower-level rider, that's value-added to me) or training grants for lower-level riders like me (kind of like the Horse Junkies United initiative).



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