The USEF Convention continued on Friday, January 21 with the sharing of information and the caring of what happens. Once the proposed rules have passed or failed they then need to be implemented with the goal of improving the sport for the various breeds and disciplines.
In the FEI Affliliates forum there was discussion on how to partner with the affiliates to implement programs. “It’s easy to get a program in there but it may not be producing the results of the original intention,” commented President David O’Connor.
The feeling was that there needs to be a review panel re-evaluating programs to ensure the money being spent on those programs is being put to good use.
Sally Ike offered the idea of establishing milestones so that there are goals to be reached within a specific timeframe. It was also suggested that when one group comes up with a good program the concept should be shared so that others can benefit from the time and energy put into any program.
Because these were the FEI disciplines, a representative from driving, dressage, reining, vaulting, endurance, eventing, para equestrian and show jumping were each asked to give a report of how things are going. Endurance indicated membership is down but they are holding their own. Vaulting noted that their annual meeting is coming up in the 2nd week in March. For dressage the United States Dressage Federation is talking to the USEF to take over some of the awards programs. Eventing said they are on target and moving ahead. The United States Eventing Association is now in its ninth year with rapid growth every year. It was also noted that USEA wants to bring in more horsemanship into their already successful education programs.
As the members of this group exited the room, the National Affiliates group entered and immediately started with their rule change proposals.
O’Connor talked about an event that the Saddleseat group is already doing that he feels should be sanctioned by the USEF. It’s a Saddleseat World Cup that is already in place and doing well and it would just require the endorsement of the USEF.
In the High Performance Working Group discussion centered on a joint effort for identifying and getting money from donors since those funds are what send our High Performance teams to represent this country in major competitions such as the Pan Am and Olympic Games.
“What programs are working; what programs are not working and what we need to change,” was one of the topics that Chairman Armand Leone mentioned and which was also a theme throughout the day. Leone reached out to everyone saying that each affliate program needs to look into this.
Leone went on to note that the markers that should be used are success and number of athletes touched (and compare that to money spent), among other things. “The discipline committees have to go through the programs they have,” he reinforced.
Jim Wolf brought up the concept of sustainable funding for long term results rather than short term programs. This way you can develop a four year program.
The discussion continued on planning for multiple years which would hopefully support grassroots programs as well, which are often the first things that get cut. One comment made is that there is support at the bottom and at the top but none at the middle.
Jim Wolf’s comment to that was that there are a lot of groups competing for funding. “You need to come up with good programs but you need to give them time to work,” he commented referring to how too often programs are cut before they are given a chance to succeed.
“A lot of us are dealing with today because you can’t get to tomorrow without proving today,” commented Devon Maitozo, vaulting gold medalist. He went on to explain the pressure that is put on athletes to constantly prove themselves now rather than looking to the future.
In the National Hunter forum the discussion on rule changes continued ad nauseum. Kudos to all those hard working professionals that make an effort to understand and debate these rules. Kudos also to the USEF for creating an organization that allows for this.
The final but very important event of the day were the Horse of the Year Awards, when all the top horses and riders in the nation are honored for their successes. Five horses were up for the ultimate award, the “2010 Farnam/Platform USEF Horse of the Year” and the winner was Reining horse and double gold medalist, Gunners Special Nite, a six-year-old American Quarter Horse, who was ridden by Tom McCutcheon to both an Individual and Team Gold Medal at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, KY.
Owner of Gunners Special Nite is Sarah B. Willeman of Turnabout Farm who bought Gunners Special Nite shortly before the Adequan/USEF Selection Trials for the Adequan U.S. Reining Team which were held in July. There the chestnut stallion with the big white face was named Reserve USEF National Champion and was the runner-up in the Selection Trials. Being crowned World Champion at the World Equestrian Games was a well deserved title and in her acceptance speech it was clear how proud Willeman is of both the horse and rider.
To see photos of all the Horse of the Year Award winners and of other events held during the USEF Convention, go to http://www.presslinkpr.com/gallery2/main.php?g2_itemId=222296.