Lexington, Ky.—Dec. 8
In the past, contentious discussions and debates have filled the Adequan/USDF Annual Meeting board of governors' meetings. But this year, as with last, everyone seemed in agreement with the decisions being made.
There were some new faces, however, or at least some familiar faces stepping into new roles.
Lisa Gorretta, previously a U.S. Dressage Federation board of governors at-large director, ran unopposed for the position of vice president, and she was elected. Beth Jenkins, current vice president, is stepping down.
Janine Malone, who’s served as USDF secretary for 10 years, is also stepping down, and USDF President George Williams presented her with a watch, flowers and a framed photograph. Malone then received a standing ovation from all the delegates in the room.
“It’s been a long and interesting experience,” said Malone. “This has been a good year. Some of the things USDF accomplished this year are such milestones—the U.S. Dressage Finals, for instance. I’ll still be involved in USDF in some ways, and maybe I’ll have time for other things I’m asked to help with. I’m not going to go away; I’ll still be a pain in the neck, and I’ll still continue to say what I think.”
Margaret Freeman, Marlene Groman and Sarah Jane Martin were all seeking the position of secretary, and Freeman was elected with 786 votes. Martin was not far behind with her 654 votes.
“I feel that the single most important entity in USDF is the [Group Member Organization],” Freeman said. “It’s our greatest asset. What happens at the local level is the thing that affects us the most.”
Five Regions (1, 3, 5, 7 and 9) elected Regional Directors. Region 1’s Lisa Schmidt ran unopposed, as did Region 5’s Heather Petersen, Region 3’s Susan Bender and Region 9’s Sherry Guess. Michele Vaughn challenged incumbent Terry Wilson for Region 7’s seat but was defeated.
Treasurer Steve Schubert put forth the budget, which is again balanced, and it was approved without issue. “We’re in the black for the fourth or fifth year in a row,” he said. “We’re doing really well with our budgeting and controlling expenses.”
Medium Tour Chaos
Causing the most confused discussion throughout the course of the convention was the topic of implementing the newly-developed FEI Intermediaire A and B tests—the “medium tour.” The Federation Equestre Internationale recently announced that the Intermediaire II test would no longer be used, starting in 2014. However, the 2014 GAIG/USDF Regional Championship qualifying season has already started, and some riders have accumulated points and scores with the I2.
“Our national rules require we only use current editions of FEI tests, so that creates a dilemma,” said Malone. “We will be incorporating IA and IB into our USEF competitions. Those tests may be offered, and we will be transitioning. We are asking permission from the FEI to transition from I2 to IB throughout this year. If some show doesn’t get the message or doesn’t change their prize list and a rider comes prepared to ride the I2 test—because right now in this part of December it’s quite possible shows are already accepting entries for shows in early January—that test will still be counted and will be valid. The FEI didn’t change to withdraw the I2 until November. It’s not that we’ve been asleep at the wheel here; we just are trying to make things work.”
If the USEF is granted permission to use the I2 through the rest of the year, it would only be offered at national shows. The Intermediaire B test will be used at the GAIG/USDF Regional Championships and the U.S. Dressage Finals, but a rider can use their I2 scores to qualify for that class.
For Brentina Cup riders at a CDI, the tests used will be the FEI U-25 and IB tests. However, if a rider is qualifying at a national show, they’ll use the USEF Brentina Cup test and the FEI U-25 test; those will also be the two tests used at the 2014 USEF Festival Of Champions (N.J.).
Riders at the 2014 USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix Championship (Ill.) will ride the USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix and regular FEI Grand Prix tests, and those will be the tests used for qualifying as well.
“The feeling from the group is that Intermediaire A and B are really a different level than Grand Prix,” said Williams.
The new level created other issues USDF and USEF are still working through.
“The way it’s written now, the small tour, medium tour and large tour can’t cross over at all,” said Williams. “You can’t do I1 and IA or IB [at the same competition], nor can you do IA or IB and Grand Prix. But we’re going to ask permission for national shows, as a transition in 2014, to allow our riders to do IB and Grand Prix, and also I1 and IA or B. A lot of our riders like to do I2 and Grand Prix or Intermediaire I and Intermediaire II, and we’d like to keep that option for them.”
Some of these decisions are still up for debate and pending FEI approval, but the USEF plans to release an official statement soon.
Other Convention Tidbits:
- Charles de Kunffy and Anne Gribbons were inducted into the Roemer Foundation/USDF Hall Of Fame during the Salute Gala on Dec. 7.
- GAIG/USDF Regional Championship rides were up 11.5 percent in 2013, and membership numbers are stabilized. The inaugural U.S. Dressage Finals were praised as creating more excitement around the Regional Championship program. “In 2013 we ended the year pretty much dead on from where we were the previous year,” said USDF Executive Director Stephan Hienzsch. “In general we’ve stopped the steady decline we were seeing since the bubble burst years ago.”
- Next year’s U.S. Dressage Finals will host adult amateur and open classes again, but junior/young rider classes will not yet be added. Malone clarified that juniors and young riders can enter the competition through the open classes, but to do so they must compete in the open section of their Regional Championships. “Open means open to all age groups,” she said. “If we’re going to expand, we think it’s not quite the time to do it,” added Williams. “We want to make sure we maintain the same quality.”
- The USDF Instructor Certification program will include the FEI levels going forward. Previously the program only went through fourth level.
- U.S. Dressage Team Chef d’Equipe Robert Dover presented the high performance successes of the year to the board of governors. “I can promise you we’re on the march toward having more combinations go between 75 and 80 percent,” he said. “We have horses and riders who are stepping up and showing the ability to arrive on scores like those right now.”
- Current USEF CEO John Long spoke about horse welfare issues within the sport, and he also addressed the new 12-hour rule and collapse rule. “Outside of the hunter/jumper world, most people think this came as a result of being a hunter problem,” he said. “The more we’ve looked into it and heard from other affiliates, we know we have a problem in a couple of different areas. The problem isn’t just going to go away. We can’t over-communicate about this.”
- The 2014 USDF Convention will be held Dec. 3-6 at the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge, Mass.
For much more from the 2013 Adequan/USDF Annual Convention, make sure to check out the Dec. 23 issue of the Chronicle.