US Equestrian Chief Executive Officer Bill Moroney led the second portion of the General Session with the theme of Focus on the Future. Moroney, along with Kelly Bolton, Director of Human Resources; Sarah Hamilton, communications consultant and Managing Director of Kivvit; Will Connell, Director of Sport; Terri Dolan, Director of National Breeds & Non-FEI Disciplines Sport; and Vicki Lowell, Chief Marketing & Content Officer, elaborated on what members and fans should watch for in US Equestrian’s year ahead.
Moroney gave a brief overview of US Equestrian’s operations to give attendees an idea of how things work at the national governing body of equestrian sport.
“One of our goals at US Equestrian is to solve problems. To do that we are going to identify the challenge, we are going to look for the opportunities that help us find the solutions that transform that challenge into a solved problem, which helps you and your horse, whether we are talking about affiliates or individual members,” Moroney explained. “Our goal is to work with our volunteers, to work with our affiliates, to work with each other to get to the right place to find the new opportunities that solve the problems to make our sport better and make your experience better.”
Moroney also noted four overarching objectives and three key strategic roles that are the focus of US Equestrian.
Four overarching objectives:
- Ensuring mission, vision, and strategic goals drive all decision making
- Consistent organization and sport-wide compliance
- Organization-wide sport awareness and growth
- Excellence on the field of play and in staff structure
Three key strategic roles:
- Promoter – US Equestrian uses various communications and content platforms to spread the joy of equestrian sport
- Sports administrator – US Equestrian helps athletes, human and equine, compete at the local level up to the international stage
- Regulator – US Equestrian oversees fairness and welfare issues
The senior staff and consultant Hamilton took an in-depth look at the six priorities of US Equestrian for 2020:
- Growing member benefit value and utilization
- Implementing new Safe Sport communication program
- Winning to inspire
- Expanding sport development programs
- Building sponsorship and partner programs
- Focusing on the future of equestrian sport
For priority one, growing member benefit value and utilization, Bolton noted the new benefit programs offered to members, including the free mental health aid program launched in 2019 and all new discounted insurance plans available starting February 1, 2020,for paid fan and competing members. She said that committee and affiliate surveys are providing valuable input for continuous improvements. Bolton explained that corporate responsibility programs and professional development opportunities are allowing employees to better themselves in 2020 and beyond. To close out priority one, Moroney added that usef.org will go through dynamic changes with enhanced navigation and improved usability.
Hamilton explained priority two, the new Safe Sport communication program. After interviewing various groups, the US Equestrian website will have Safe Sport navigation and webpages redesigned for each Safe Sport target audience: trainer, rider, parents, affiliates, licensed officials, and competition organizers. Hamilton said that each page will lead with educational videos with need-to-know information and easy-to-navigate icons. She added that common Safe Sport misconceptions will be addressed with website resources and a targeted social media campaign. She finished her presentation by noting a line-up of town hall meetings tentatively scheduled across the country to address member questions firsthand.
Connell shared his thoughts on winning to inspire for priority three. The primary target of 2020 is the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. The games pose a set of challenges from logistics to heat and humidity, but the U.S. teams hope to deliver on the world stage. Connell added that the U.S. continues to attract major events, such as the FEI World Cup™ Finals in Las Vegas, Nev., in 2020 and in Omaha, Neb., in 2023 and the newest eventing CCI5* in Fair Hill, Md.
Connell continued his presentation focusing on expanding sport development programs for priority four. He said that sport development must be a constant focus in 2020 and beyond. The Los Angeles 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games are a big opportunity for equestrian sport to shine in the U.S. Connell noted that programs such as the USEF/USPEA Para-Equestrian Dressage Centers of Excellence and emerging athlete programs are working but there is room for improvement. He closed out his time on stage by sharing his belief that quality coaching delivers fun, advancement, results, and a positive experience in safe environment.
Dolan elaborated on the national breeds and disciplines’ side of sport development programs, saying that proactive staff and volunteer engagement and new on-ramps for participation in US Equestrian can aid development. She added that new opportunities with existing programs, education partners, affiliate workshops, and new affiliate activations will help equestrian sport grow.
Lowell came to the stage to discuss building sponsorship and partner programs for priority five. She explained that a robust group of sponsors, partners, official suppliers, championship and event sponsors, and MemberPerks partners aid US Equestrian and provide opportunities for continued growth with strong partnerships. Lowell unveiled a new co-branded lifestyle campaign with Land Rover titled #WhatsYourRide, which will utilize integrated US Equestrian and Land Rover content. Lastly, she said US Equestrian will work more closely in partnership with the USET Foundation to grow support through education and promotion.
Moroney closed out the presentation by talking about the sixth and final priority of focus on future. He said US Equestrian plans to host a future of sport assembly in the spring of 2020 and aims to address a range of critical topics that impact our future. While the organization looks for new concepts for the future to drive growth, Moroney explained it will take all of the equestrian community stakeholders working together to maximize growth.
“It takes a whole community for all of us to be successful. You can have success but you might only have success in a small, narrow realm,” Moroney said. “To be truly successful as a sport, it takes coming together and working together to find the commonalities that are going to bring our sport to a new level to create more awareness to make it more popular to bring more people to us.”
For more insights from the General Session, watch the archived stream on USEF Network.