For this engaging conversation about data and technology in the equestrian world—available on demand at USEF Network— US Equestrian’s Chief Information Officer Justin Provost joined Nathan Rolfe, co-founder of the new Center for Equine Performance; Shelley Campf, owner of the OZ Incorporated training center in Oregon and co-owner of Team NW Equestrian Sports; and Eric Willemenot, founder of Move ’N See and inventor of the Pixio robotic video camera.
New Features on US Equestrian’s Website
Provost kicked things off with a summary of US Equestrian IT projects from 2019, as well as a sampling of new features coming soon to usef.org.
In 2019, US Equestrian made a number of improvements and developed initiatives to help members and licensed officials, including
- Creating a licensed officials checklist, which allows LOs to check their status more easily
- Adding updates and disciplines to online Fédération Équestre Internationale entries
- Creating a background system to provide member notifications on usef.org
- Rolling out real-time updates and notifications for completion of SafeSport training
- Creating a document library, in which hundreds of thousands of forms and documents submitted to US Equestrian have been scanned and stored since 2007 and which can be linked with members inside the US Equestrian database
- Managing a number projects for Affiliates and Alliance Partners, including the American Saddlebred Horse Association, the Equine Disease Communications Center, U.S. Pony Clubs, United States Hunter Jumper Association, and Welsh Pony and Cob Society of America
In 2020, members will see the roll-out of a host of navigation changes to the usef.org website starting on Jan. 13, Provost said. These will improve members’ experience and convenience. “Places you’re used to going to are still going to be there, but based on member and staff feedback we made a bunch of changes that are going to show up on Monday,” he said.
- The Compete tab moves to the front of the menu “because that’s the one most people go to first,” Provost explained. “And we’ve added in a section for athletes so they know where to go to get their information.”
- The Start Riding menu will move to the Learning Center, which also will now include links to US Equestrian’s Education Partners
- In the USEF Network area, users will now see which live streams are going on at the time. “So if someone hits that USEF Network menu, they’ll be able to see the live streams that they can chose from right away,’ Provost explained.
- ShopUSEF will now also feature US Equestrian’s MemberPerks. ShopUSEF also will offer pavers that can be personalized for inclusion at the new US Equestrian headquarters building.
- Under the Membership menu, there will be new links to the health and insurance benefits page, which will be discussed in more detail on Thursday at the Annual Meeting’s General Session, which takes place from 2 p.m.-5 p.m. and will be live streamed on USEF Network.
More Information on USEF.org’s Safe Sport Page
Importantly, there also will be improvements to US Equestrian’s Safe Sport page at usef.org, inspired by feedback from members, staff, and public relations firm Kivvit. “We’re creating more links to show more information,” Provost said. New features will include educational information on such topics as Safe Sport myths and facts, things to know about Safe Sport, and more. There also will be areas and information tailored to specific participants according to their role. “For example, if you’re a parent, you’ll be able to click a link that says, ‘Safe Sport for Parents,’ and it’s going to give you the information you need as a parent to know what you need to do,” Provost explained. “In general, there’s just going to be more information out there and available to you so you can get all the safe Sport information you need.”
Also on the horizon in 2020: a custom dashboard for US Equestrian members and a specialized Affiliate dashboard for US Equestrian’s affiliated breed and discipline organizations.
Data, Techsnology, and Sport
Following Provost’s presentation, a lively discussion ensued among the panelists and attendees regarding a number of ways equestrians can use and are using data and technology. View it now at USEF Network.
Nathan Rolfe—co-founder of the new Center for Equine Performance and a jumping athlete and accomplished track and field competitor himself—discussed the center’s work to collect and analyze data that can help improve safety and performance for both horse and equestrian.
“Those are things we think are kind of low-hanging fruit right now,” Rolfe said. He added that the idea is to “create a safer sport, create a sport that performs at a higher level and parents can be less worried about their kids getting hurt” and to be able to “say this is a sport that gets you ready to go thrive in college with the organizational skills, the independence you have, and the grit. The amount of time and energy you spend on horses is really preparing you for the real world in a way that other sports and other activities aren’t.”
The CEP’s efforts include collecting data that can help achieve those aims, such as information about horses’ training regimens, factors involved rider falls, and more.
Responding to Rolfe’s comments on horse training techniques, Shelley Campf—owner of the OZ Incorporated training center in Oregon and co-owner of Team NW Equestrian Sports—observed that “in horse sports, as we evolve more and more, there’s less and less variation” in training methods. Campf later proposed that aggregating and studying detailed (and anonymized) data about everything from rings surface conditions to variables around rider falls could prove valuable to horse sports as a whole.
Eric Willemenot, founder of Move ’N See and inventor of the Pixio robotic video camera, discussed the prevalence of video technology in the equestrian world, from lesson and competitive performance analysis to horse sales to artistic videos and blogs.
“I think equestrians can help other sports with things that are really better in equestrian sports than in other sports,” he said of equestrians’ use of video technology.
But in an effort to “open our minds” to new possibilities, Willemenot said, he also shared ways his own sport—skydiving—employed video technology and could potentially inspire equestrians.
Willemenot noted that video is ubiquitous in competitive skydiving, as judges rely solely on videos to make their decisions, and team videographers are part of the team—even sharing in medals. In freestyle competition, he added, the competitors’ videos have artistic qualities and are considered in the scoring.
“Would similar things be possible in equestrian sport?” he asked. “I really don’t know, but it’s interesting to think about it.”