“I think this is going to be a record,” said U.S. Dressage Federation President George Williams as the board of governors meeting at the Adequan/USDF Annual Convention adjourned a full two hours early Dec. 8.
While the topic of a national dressage championship for all levels caused serious waves last year, this year’s convention, held Dec. 5-8 in New Orleans, saw only calm seas and delegates without differences.
Treasurer Steve Schubert presented a balanced budget, declaring the USDF a “fiscally sound organization,” and the budget passed unanimously without discussion. Executive Director Stephan Hienzsch stated that membership numbers are holding steady since 2011, though still rebounding from the economic difficulties of earlier years, and 2012 saw the largest number of Grand Prix rides ever—an increase of 18 percent over 2011. Only three committees put forth motions, and they all passed unanimously as well.
Williams ran unopposed for president, as did Schubert for the office of treasurer. Regional directors Kim Laney (Region 2) and Lloyd Landkamer (Region 4) also ran unopposed for their seats on the executive board. Peter Rothchild challenged Region 6 incumbent Donna Longacre and was defeated. Region 8’s Fern Feldman retired after 18 years of service, and Deborah Reinhart was elected to that position. None of the at-large positions were up for re-election this year.
“A year ago, you voted for three at-large directors,” said Williams. “I believe those additions have been very positive and created better communication.”
Other notable convention happenings:
- The Patsy Albers Fund—set up by the Dressage Foundation to honor Albers, a longtime volunteer and show manager who passed away earlier this year—was announced. It will fund an award of $500 to the highest-placing rider at the USEF Dressage Festival Of Champions (with priority given to Grand Prix riders) who previously competed at a North American Junior and Young Rider Championship. The goal is to increase the award to $1,000 in future years.
- The newly introduced USEF rider tests were discussed in a competition open forum, with most voicing their support for them. Lisa Gorretta, a USDF board of governors at-large director who also chaired the sub-committee for the rider tests, spoke at length about their creation and implementation. “We took a lot of time to discuss and evaluate, and it took three years to make these [rider tests],” said Gorretta. “From first coming to a consensus on what were important skills for the riders to have, the second question was, ‘What is the best way to evaluate these qualities in a rider?’ Then it was, ‘What is the best way to see what you’re evaluating?’ We had each judge come up with a proposed test for each level. Then we took everyone’s suggestions and discussed them until we came to a consensus. It was worth the three years that were invested.”
- The 2013 USDF Convention will be held in Lexington, Ky., Dec. 4-7. In 2014, the convention will be in Cambridge, Mass., Dec. 3-6.
- The inaugural USDF Dressage Finals, a national championship for open riders and adult amateurs at all levels, will be held Nov. 7-10, 2013, at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. USDF is anticipating that 300 horses will attend. “The adult amateurs will have the spotlight in many of their classes, as many of them will be held in the Alltech Arena. As we all know, the weather can be unpredictable in early November in Kentucky. A lot of stabling will be in climate-controlled barns,” said Williams.
- Williams announced a slight change to the way riders will qualify for the 2013 North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (Ky.). Instead of having to complete one team test and one individual at a single show for the scores to count, riders can now choose to do only a team test or individual test.
- The board of governors voted to limit riders to one regional championship per year, starting in 2013. Riders can still contest multiple divisions at one championship.
- Also in 2013, 4-year-old horses will have to contest two tests for the title at the USEF National Young Horse Dressage Championships (Ill.).
- Michael Poulin and Ravel were inducted into the Roemer Foundation/USDF Hall Of Fame during the Salute Gala on Dec. 8. Steffen Peters was on hand to speak on Ravel’s behalf and to accept the Colonel Thackeray Trophy for Legolas as Grand Prix horse of the year. Akiko Yamazaki, owner of Ravel and Legolas, also attended the ceremony and gave a heartfelt speech about Ravel’s career.
- Before the Salute Gala, Peters, Yamazaki and judge Gary Rockwell spoke about their favorite London Olympic Games memories during a forum moderated by USDF Connection’s Jennifer Bryant. “I have to say, my funniest memory came from night of the opening ceremonies,” said Peters. “We walked into the stadium at midnight, saw the flame, and Paul McCartney was playing. When it was all was done, we walked back to Olympic Village and had a meal at 2 a.m. At 3 a.m., we were back in the rooms. Jan [Ebeling] and I were staying in one room, and the girls were in the other. I was somewhat asleep, and I hear this really loud bang from the girls’ room, and then I hear laughter, and then they’re all coming out in tears they’re laughing so hard. For five minutes they couldn’t explain what had happened, but apparently Adrienne [Lyle] fell asleep and fell out of the bed. It was the funniest thing. We’re still laughing about this today.”