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A Letter from the President and Chief Executive Officer

by US Equestrian Communications Department | May 22, 2019, 4:00 PM EST

Dear US Equestrian Members,

On behalf of US Equestrian (USEF), thank you for your membership and participation in equestrian sport. As our sport moves into the busiest time of the year, we are reaching out to you to provide an update on some of the important initiatives underway at US Equestrian.

Safe Sport: An Update and New Policy Announcement

First off, we want to thank all our members who have taken the SafeSport Training. It is the foundation of our Safe Sport program and is designed to keep the sport and our young athletes safe. What could be more important? To date, over 55,000 members have successfully completed the Training. Because of you, we are ensuring a safer environment for everyone to enjoy equestrian sport.

For anyone who takes SafeSport Training after April 15, 2019, the U.S. Center for SafeSport now provides a single module for the training that encompasses what was previously offered in three separate modules. We understand the three modules caused some confusion for members who thought they had completed the training but actually had one or two modules to finish. We are pleased to have a new consolidated version available now. Please note, if you began the U.S. Center for SafeSport Training prior to April 15, you will still need to complete the three training modules.

On April 29, 2019, the USEF Board of Directors approved updates to the USEF Safe Sport Policy and adopted new policies to provide further protections for our members, called the USEF Minor Athlete Abuse Prevention (MAAP) policies. View the updated USEF Safe Sport Policy (Includes MAAP Policy)

Starting June 1, 2019, the MAAP policies will go into effect. The new MAAP policies are part of a congressional requirement mandating USEF, as well as other amateur sports organizations and governing bodies, to implement policies and procedures that limit one-on-one interactions between minor athletes and adults who are not their parent/legal guardian. We designed these policies to work for equestrian sport, but please recognize that they are based on the uniform policies developed by the U.S. Center for SafeSport that will further protect minor athletes. Under federal law, if USEF Affiliates do not adopt the USEF MAAP policies, they must implement their own policies.

We understand that these policies, which affect one-on-one meetings/training, social media, electronic communications (such as text messages and e-mail), travel, and more, will change the way adults and minors in our sport currently interact. We have provided examples to explain the policies, and we encourage you to read them closely. These policies are designed to protect minors and adults, and other sports governing bodies across the country are enacting similar measures. View the new MAAP policies and MAAP policy FAQ.

It is vital to the sustainability of equestrian sport to deliver Safe Sport information and resources directly to our members. We will continue to support you in adhering to these policies by providing regular updates. We appreciate your efforts to ensure equestrian sport is a safe environment for all.

 

Drugs and Medications Program

On May 7, 2019, representatives of the American Saddlebred Horse Association and the USEF met in person at the USEF offices in Lexington, Kentucky, to discuss opportunities to improve equine and athlete health and welfare. The main focus was on how advancements in technology have created new opportunities to amend recommended practices to increase the well-being of our equine partners and athletes.

Due to continued research and experience, USEF is now able to amend some guidelines regarding administration of certain substances. We will be publishing amendments to the USEF Drugs & Medication Guidelines, which will help veterinarians in their role as guardians of the horse to assist their clients in responsible management of their horses when competing under USEF rules and regulations.

This meeting was an excellent example of the USEF and one of its Recognized Affiliates coming together to have constructive and collaborative discussions on important issues to benefit our horses and athletes. Representatives in attendance included ASHA President David Mount; ASHA Executive Director Terri Dolan; professional trainers Bret Day, Nelson Green, and Larry Hodge; Dr. Hugh Behling; USEF CEO Bill Moroney; General Counsel Sonja Keating; and Chief Administrator of the Drugs and Medications Program Stephen Schumacher.

The USEF Laboratory continues to operate and perform the functions of sample testing. Our discussions with the University of Kentucky (UK) have advanced to the agreement stage, and we look forward to finalizing our relationship with the new UK Laboratory in the next few weeks.

 

Licensed Officials and Education

Our Licensed Officials Department continues to work with USEF's Affiliates to transition licensed officials’ education to those organizations ready to manage those responsibilities. The USEF will continue to administer the licensing process and will continue to support Affiliates throughout this process, knowing that there may be instances where the USEF will need to continue to provide some education.

To date, over 300 applications have been processed under the new structure, with the efficiency and quality of the process significantly increasing. This has allowed the Licensed Officials Committee to identify gaps in process and communicate those situations to our Affiliates. Each year, the term of service for one-third of the committee members expires, which provides the continuous opportunity to engage different members in the governance process. This system helps educate our volunteers in both committee service and committee leadership, both of which are necessary experience if a member chooses to pursue a higher governance position.

 

Member Services Council

USEF's Board of Directors voted to transition the former Administration & Finance Council to a new Member Services Council (MSC). The MSC functions include those operations that benefit the entire membership including, but not limited to, membership and horse recording, competition licensing, results and compliance, athlete and horse services, information technology, legal, rules and regulation, marketing communications and promotion, drugs and medications, finance, education and licensing of officials, customer care, and human resources. These areas constitute approximately two-thirds of the annual budget.

Our transition involved redefining the purpose of the Council to focus on providing advisory services to key staff leaders, providing an outside perspective on the Council functions, reviewing the financials and variance reports of the Council departments, submitting an annual Council plan and budget, electing two members of the Nominating Committee, and performing any other responsibilities assigned by the Board of Directors, President, or CEO.

 

Affiliate Relationships

US Equestrian values our relationship with our Recognized Affiliates, and we believe it is important for our members to understand that US Equestrian and our Affiliates serve different but equally important roles, delivering meaningful programs and services to equestrian sport. We have been participating in Affiliates Workshops where leadership from US Equestrian and our Affiliates discuss issues facing our organizations and equestrian sport and collectively work on solutions to better serve our members. We are also working individually with Affiliates on the Affiliate Agreements, which identify the roles and responsibilities of Affiliates and US Equestrian.

 

Education Partners

US Equestrian has a strong and mutually beneficial relationship with several scholastic and collegiate equestrian organizations. We believe that participants in these programs are an essential connection for equestrian sport, and we are pleased to work with these organizations to introduce and keep participants connected to our organization and Affiliates. To better formalize these partnerships, we have created an Education Partner sub-category of our Alliance Partner program. We sent a draft Education Partner Agreement to the collegiate and scholastic organizations for their review and feedback. We will work with each organization individually to finalize the terms of the agreements.

 

Special Task Forces

Last year, USEF created three special task forces to address major issues in equestrian sport. Here are some of their accomplishments:

  • Equine Transaction Task Force
    The task force created and launched the new USEF Equine Transaction Packet, which is a resource for all parties to a transaction. The packet includes information about costs, an advisory team, the purchasing/leasing process, insurance, commissions, and transaction law, as well as major pitfalls to avoid. Our next step is to provide information on the topics that should be included in transaction documents such as a Purchase/Lease Agreement, Agent Disclosure Agreement, Pre-Purchase Trial Agreement, and Bill of Sale.
     
  • Competition Task Force
    The task force presented two rule changes that were approved by the Board and became effective February 1, 2019. The first rule change consisted of amendments to Chapter 3 – Competition Licensing.

    These amendments included better defining the licensing authority of USEF and purpose of calendar management, provisions to accept late competition applications, clarification on advertising of new or renewing competitions, added limitations on inactive and canceled competitions, updates to mileage-exemption processes, and ability to approve perpetual mileage exemptions. The second proposal redefined Special Competitions and the process for their approval and modification. The task force is now working on the Phase II of its action list and will be presenting concepts to the membership for feedback by early summer.
     
  • Grassroots Task Force
    Approximately one year ago, we created a Grassroots Task Force to identify the challenges and barriers to engaging in equestrian sport. We have determined that depending on breed or discipline, challenges and barriers exist at many levels of the sport. Therefore, a more focused approach of engaging breeds and disciplines individually or in smaller groups will be more productive. Our work includes identifying and creating awareness of existing programs and Affiliate efforts, as well as identifying possible gaps in programs and developing solutions to fill those voids.

 

USEF and USET Foundation

Leadership of both organizations met recently to develop a collaborative communications and education program that will provide members and donors with an understanding of the purpose and responsibilities of each organization and how grant funding moves between the Foundation and USEF, resulting in program support for our athletes. Infographics have been created which depict the relationship for our members and potential members, and a Learning Center video will be released later this year illustrating the relationship between our two organizations.

 

New Headquarters

Construction on the new US Equestrian headquarters is progressing well. We are working with our contractor to finalize the furnishings and fixtures for the offices and other spaces. Groups of staff members have been touring the building, and we are excited to be able to provide our staff with a state-of-the-art workplace. The new headquarters also benefits our members by lowering our costs, allowing us to invest in meaningful operations that serve our members.

 

USEF by the Numbers

The competition season is getting into full swing across the USA and worldwide, and USEF has been actively fielding teams across multiple disciplines with fantastic results.

  • Dressage
    The U.S. sent a brilliant and experienced group of riders and horses to the 2019 FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final. Laura Graves and Verdades earned their third consecutive reserve champion honor, with fellow compatriots Kasey Perry-Glass and Goerklintgaards Dublet finishing in fifth place and Adrienne Lyle and Salvino placing seventh. Led by Chef d’Equipe Debbie McDonald, The Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Team of Jennifer Baumert, Shelly Francis, Ashley Holzer, and Charlotte Jorst earned the team gold medal at the FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ USA CDIO3* in March in Wellington, FL.
     
  • Jumping
    Two-time FEI World Cup champion Beezie Madden led the U.S. contingent by placing sixth at the 2019 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final aboard Breitling LS. Fellow U.S. athletes Georgina Bloomberg, Kelli Cruciotti, Eve Jobs, and Devin Ryan all gave strong performances, placing in the top 25 overall. The NetJets U.S. Jumping Team claimed gold after an exciting jump-off at the FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ CSIO4* on March 2 in Wellington, FL. Led by Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland, team members Beezie Madden, Wilton Porter, Adrienne Sternlicht, and McLain Ward repeatedly gave strong performances to put the U.S. in a tie with Ireland, resulting in a third jump-off round.
     
  • Eventing
    The world watched as Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg performed brilliantly in all three phases of the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Mars Equestrian, yielding a second-place finish overall. He captured the Land Rover/USEF CCI5* Eventing National Championship presented by Mars Equestrian as the highest-placed U.S. athlete. Numerous U.S. riders competed, with Philip Dutton, Lauren Kieffer, and Doug Payne placing in the top 10.
     
  • Saddle Seat Equitation
    Christy Parker has been selected as the coach and Mary Mag Wilson as the assistant coach for the 2019 U.S. Saddle Seat Young Riders Team Invitational Test Events in New Orleans July 2019 and in Las Vegas in late October/early November 2019.
     

USEF team selection and competitions continue to occur on a regular basis for both national and international events. USEF athletes are off to a great start for 2019, and we thank the athletes, horses, owners, sponsors, the USET Foundation and all the people who support the training and success of our athletes.

Membership and competition participation numbers continue to be strong, and competition is keen across all breeds and disciplines. Our marketing team has acquired several new sponsors and signed several returning sponsors who support teams, championships, and programs on the national and international stage.

We hope that you are enjoying your sport and membership with the USEF. If you have any questions or wish to provide any feedback to us, please feel free to contact us by email at [email protected].

Sincerely,

Murray S. Kessler
William J. Moroney