One year after launching an ambitious strategic plan—including rebranding the United States Equestrian Federation as US Equestrian—President Murray Kessler took the stage at Thursday’s live-streamed General Session to update members. Kessler set the theme of “Bringing Joy, Embracing Change” right from the start, showing how US Equestrian is rising to the challenges of its vision, to bring the joy of horse sports to as many people as possible.
The bottom line: the strategic plan is working. Membership has grown to 105,000, but the vision is about more than that number. It’s also about increasing transparency and streamlining processes, taking a tougher stand for a level playing field, and opening access for more people to get involved in equestrian sports. US Equestrian has made significant strides across these categories.
“We want to be accountable for the things we say we’re going to do,” said Kessler. “At the end of the day, we have a 28% increase in membership, a $5 million revenue increase, and a whole lot more benefits and programs, and we’re having one of the winningest years that we have ever had internationally, with success across the disciplines and all levels.”
Among the General Session highlights:
- Membership has grown 28% to 105,000 members
- Revenues are projected to rise $4.7 million in 2018, which allows for greater reinvestment in sport
- More than 27,000 fan members
- Member benefits makeover, with more perks like benefits and discounts, plus better member communication
- Competition Lite, a program to increase access with a pathway to USEF competition, already has signed up shows for Saddlebreds, Paso Finos, Western dressage, Connemara, Welsh Pony, and Hackney Roadster, with Morgans also in the works
- Launched a new, more user-friendly website with convenient dashboards for better customer service. The new site generated 4.3 million more page views in 2017, up 38% from 2016.
- Launched a searchable Rulebook app
- U.S. equestrians inspired us with success on the international stage, including top world rankings in show jumping, dressage, driving, endurance, eventing
- The U.S. hosted major international events, from the FEI World Cup Finals™ in Omaha to the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018
- New investment in para-equestrian and a growing rider pool in para-dressage
- The new Learning Center launched more than 50 videos, with more to come
- Complete redesign of US Equestrian magazine, to be mailed to all members in 2018
- The Joy Tour visited 19 major events, with more planned in 2018
- USEF Network offered 54 livestreams, 26 new events, and 5,400 hours of on-demand video
- Social media drew 637,000 fans, 15 million video views, and 161 million impressions
- 23 new and renewed sponsors, including Ariat, Dover Saddlery, Discover Dressage, and more
“You gave us a $750,000 investment last year to get started,” said Kessler. “That means by the end of 2018 we will have delivered a 500% return, but we’ll have that benefit every year going forward because we’ll be at a new level. That’s huge.”
CEO Bill Moroney, who followed Kessler on stage, echoed the importance of US Equestrian’s accomplishments under the strategic plan.
“This has been a big year,” said Moroney. “We’ve had a lot of major successes, some challenges still to overcome. None of us take those lightly.
“The only way we get better is to know all the facts, be able to deal with the issues, and to find the solutions and work together to get there like a family,” he added. “It’s more than a two-way street; it’s an all-way street, and we all have to work together.”
Moroney noted that the strategic plan “guides everything we do” and that US Equestrian is “constantly mentoring, constantly training each other to think, ‘What does this do? Where does it fit in? How does it help us improve our core processes? How can we ensure that there’s fairness, safety, and enjoyment? How do we provide sufficient pathways and opportunities for riders at all levels, officials at all levels, fans at all levels? How do we market and tell our story? How do we put the horse and human bond together?
“It’s about getting as many people with a horse as we possibly can, regardless of the breed or discipline they end up with.”
Moroney also discussed broad goals for the coming year, including
- Advancing and sustaining the new culture
- Membership growth, including adding 25,000 more fan members
- Increase the number of introductory and mid-level competitions
- Continued balanced budgeting
- Incentivize affiliates to drive membership and competition licensing
- Strengthen affiliate relationships
- Sustain competitive success
- Continue and expand education with SafeSport, concussion awareness, horse and human welfare and safety, and expert instruction
- Continue to promote and raise awareness of US Equestrian
“The end result,” Moroney concluded, “is a US Equestrian that people want to join, a US Equestrian that achieves its mission and vision, a US Equestrian that is successful and sustainable, and a US Equestrian we can all be proud to support. To do this, we have to get our house in order, fix problematic processes, inspire people to be involved in equestrian, make sure we’re telling our story, make sure we’re going forward in the right manner.”
Watch the complete General Session, including Kessler’s complete presentation and detailed updates from CEO Moroney; Chief Content and Marketing Officer Vicki Lowell; Director of Sport Will Connell; Lori Nelson, Senior Director of National Affiliates, Competition, and Alliance Partner Relationships; Chief Compliance Officer Matt Fine; Lisa Owens, Managing Director of Competition Services; ChiefFfinancial Officer David Harris; and Chief Information Officer Justin Provost on USEF Network.
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