Friday, May. 24, 2024

You Can Take Ownership

If this year’s U.S. Equestrian Federation Annual Meeting (p. 8) is indicative of the direction U.S. horse sports is taking, then we can rest assured we’re traveling in the right direction.

While there certainly were the usual debates and (sometimes heated) discussions, for the most part, people in conflict worked out their differences in compromise. And as U.S. Hunter Jumper Association President Bill Moroney noted, they “agreed to disagree.”
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If this year’s U.S. Equestrian Federation Annual Meeting (p. 8) is indicative of the direction U.S. horse sports is taking, then we can rest assured we’re traveling in the right direction.

While there certainly were the usual debates and (sometimes heated) discussions, for the most part, people in conflict worked out their differences in compromise. And as U.S. Hunter Jumper Association President Bill Moroney noted, they “agreed to disagree.”

It wasn’t all that long ago that the national federation, then called the American Horse Shows Association, directed our sports. And while the leaders of yesterday helped horse sports grow and prosper, the direction traveled back then wasn’t always mapped out by those who had the interests of the general membership at heart. Nevertheless, we wouldn’t be where we are today without the many hardworking people who struggled to do their best under sometimes adverse working conditions in those days. And let’s not forget, it was a different era, in which “transparency” had not yet become a buzzword.

A number of these horsemen have persevered, and today they’re making a difference leading committees and on the USEF Board of Directors. In addition, fresh new faces have joined in, and the blend of ages, viewpoints and perspectives has led to many new programs, projects and goals.

As veteran journalist Nancy Jaffer reflects in her essay “A Tremendous Feeling Of Achievement” (p. 16), this year’s annual meeting had a different aura. In the past, when I returned home from an annual meeting I often felt drained. This year, Nancy and I both felt inspired. Throughout the meeting, we discussed the projects taking shape in the various sports, and while we wrote about many of them, there were others that we couldn’t touch upon at this time but will save for a more thorough analysis in the future.

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One of the prevailing topics—which we did cover on p. 12—was the proposal to develop qualifications for dressage riders to move up to third level and beyond. But it wasn’t necessarily the proposal itself that generated the most discussion; it was the overwhelming, and perhaps unexpected, response from the membership that everyone remarked on in the hallways and in the meeting rooms.

Hundreds of U.S. Dressage Federation and Group Member Organization members inundated the USEF and USDF with opinions, both pro and con, regarding the proposal. They sent e-mails, made phone calls, posted online on bulletin boards, and generally made their feelings known in no uncertain terms.

Similarly, the USHJA has evolved into an organization not only for the members, but even more important, influenced by the members. Some rule-change proposals and ideas that have been buried for years are finally seeing the light of day.

“What’s great is that all of the things we’ve been complaining about for years are finally being worked out,” said Bill. “What you’re seeing is what an exhibitor can do. Members need to take ownership of what’s happening in the sport.”

So as you read this year’s report on the USEF Annual Meeting,  grab a highlighter and mark some of the programs or ideas that appeal to you or with which you disagree. Then send an e-mail or a letter, stating your opinion. It will only take a moment, and you too can be a part of the process. Don’t just sit back and let someone else determine the course that your organization will take.

Tricia Booker

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