A rumor circulated yesterday at the U.S. Eventing Association Convention that the Fédération Equestre Internationale’s new progressive list of allowed substances wouldn’t go into effect until at least 2011, and that rumor was confirmed today, Dec. 4, in Reston, Va.
Although no official word has come down from the FEI yet, several reliable sources assured riders they wouldn’t have to worry about figuring out the new drug rules before this year’s FEI Alltech World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Ky.
Other tidbits of interest that came up at the USEF High Performance Eligible Athletes Eventing Committee included the plan to stage the last mandatory outing for the WEG team at the American Eventing Championships at the Chattahoochee Hills Eventing facility in Fairburn, Ga.
The eventing team would ride in the advanced horse trials over the weekend of Sept. 11-12. Then the team would continue training there, and head to the Kentucky Horse Park on Sunday, Sept. 26, in good time for the jog-up on the following Wednesday.
The USEA Awards Luncheon was the highlight of the day as riders at every level picked up awards ranging from Stephanie Sapp, the overall junior beginner novice rider of the year, to Phillip Dutton, who received his 12th consecutive rider of the year award along with the top awards at preliminary, intermediate and advanced.
Penny and Brian Ross received a standing ovation when they were awarded the Wofford Cup for their outstanding dedication to the sport of eventing. It was the first time the trophy had been awarded to two individuals at the same time, and the convention hall rang out with applause for this popular organizing and officiating duo from Fairfield, Va.
Another great contributor to the sport of eventing, Elkins Wetherill, received the President’s Lifetime Service Honor. Emcee Jim Wofford regaled the audience with the story of how Wetherill, who just celebrated his 90th birthday, insisted on hiking out to cross-country at Fair Hill (Md.) to watch Ashley Leith ride his horse Jet around the CCI** in the pouring rain.
Several rule changes were up for discussion today. Since the FEI no longer recognizes the classic-format three-day, the USEA has taken on the task of creating national guidelines for the preliminary and training level three-days.
One rule change argument centered on the possibility of fining riders who missed bit check before dressage. However, when a technical delegate brought up the point that bit check is actually not required—it’s more of a courtesy to prevent riders from being eliminated in the ring for improper equipment,—U.S. Equestrian Federation Eventing Technical Committee Chairman Malcolm Hook determined that rule change was going nowhere as written.
Discussion also grew heated over the topic of making solid cross-country obstacles mandatory in cross-country warm-ups. Professional riders such as Jonathan Holling and Gina Miles argued that it was more fair to the horses to allow them to pop over a solid obstacle before going out on course. But organizers worried that such a proposition might not be possible or affordable for all venues.
Marcia Kulak brought a petition with 500 signatures to the Board of Governors meeting in favor of bringing back the paper Omnibus. She stated that she understood USEA members might have to pay something for the “Eventer’s Bible,” but she hoped that the price could be reduced from the current $36.
“I definitely agree on the concept of bridging the gap between those who want to pay for an Omnibus and those who want to work online,” said USEA President Kevin Baumgardner. But he spoke of both environmental and budgetary concerns over sending out a paper Omnibus to every member.
USEA CEO Jo Whitehouse said she’d already had a possible sponsor come forward for the Omnibus, and everyone agreed that making the Omnibus available at a reduced cost would most likely be the best compromise.