Lexington, Ky. – The USEF Board of Directors met on Saturday, January 14, at the 2023 US Equestrian Annual Meeting in Lexington, Ky. During the meeting, Judy Werner was elected Vice President and Ellie Brimmer was added as an athlete representative.
Judy Werner (Waterloo, Ill.) brings a long history of service in US Equestrian governance, having served on numerous committees and councils, including as Vice President of the Executive Committee, Hearing Committee Co-Chair, Audit Committee Chair, and American Saddlebred Committee, and as the American Saddlebred Horse & Breeders Association representative to the National Breeds and Disciplines Council, to name a few. Recently, she was Chair of the Amateur Task Force, which worked with the US Equestrian membership to modernize the Amateur Rule in 2021 and 2022.
Werner is a successful breeder and exhibitor of American Saddlebreds out of her family’s Redwing Farm in Illinois. She was awarded a USEF Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014 and was awarded the Sallie Busch Wheeler Trophy for Distinguished Service to Equestrian Sport at the 2021 US Equestrian Pegasus Awards Celebration.
Werner replaces outgoing Vice President Elisabeth Goth, who completed her second term in the role at this year’s meeting. Werner’s move leaves a vacant seat for an American Saddlebred representative, which will be elected by the National Breeds and Disciplines Council at its January meeting.
Ellie Brimmer (Wellington, Fla.), an athlete representative from the sport of para dressage was welcomed as a new member of the Board of Directors for a four-year term beginning in 2023 and a member of the Executive Committee. Brimmer has been competing in para dressage at the FEI level since 2011 and is currently a USEF Para Dressage Development athlete. She was named to the United States Para Equestrian Association Board of Directors in 2022.
Additional Actions Taken by the Board of Directors at the 2023 Annual Meeting
In his opening remarks, US Equestrian President Tom O’Mara reviewed the workshop sessions from the 2023 Annual Meeting and expressed appreciation for the willingness of participants to discuss important horse and human topics openly. He highlighted some upcoming international events, specifically the FEI Endurance World Championship in March and the FEI World Cup for Jumping, Dressage, and Vaulting, which will be held in the U.S. in April. He reviewed some important initiatives from the past year, including the Virginia Tech helmet safety ratings project, equine relief funding for Ukraine, and the USEF Community Outreach Organization grants.
David O’Connor gave a review of his first 100 days in the new position of US Equestrian Chief of Sport. He said he has been reviewing the strengths and weaknesses across the organization structure and programs as well as the affiliate programs and support. His focus for the months ahead will be developing coaching programs and using data to create better outcomes in horse welfare, risk management, and the allocation of resources.
Joe Mattingley from the International Disciplines Council (IDC) and Graeme Thom, the new USEF Director of High Performance, gave updates from the international sports. Mattingley reported that three of the four Olympic/Paralympic disciplines have qualified for the Paris 2024 games and Jumping would focus on earning its qualification this year. Thom reported on his first 100 days, which included a meeting with the USOPC to review key performance indicators.
National Breeds and Non-FEI Sport Disciplines Director Terri Dolan provided a brief report summarizing national sport activities including the successful production of USEF championship events in 2022. She praised her department team and acknowledged their hard work with special projects associated with the Amateur Task Force and with the USEF Lite competition model, and their ongoing efforts to strengthen affiliate relationships by hosting regular affiliate leadership calls and meetings and by attending various Recognized Affiliate Championships and annual conventions. Additionally, Dolan announced that the USEF Saddle Seat Adult Medal Final will be moving to the American Royal Championship Horse Show in 2023.
The following are some of the key actions taken by the BOD at the January meeting:
- The Board approved two resolutions to support the overall calendar management system. First, Resolution 2023-01 permits the Federation to hold all 2024 new, renewal or mileage exemption applications for USEF licensed hunter and jumper competitions in California for the first trimester of the 2024 competition calendar for processing. This will allow the Federation to contemporaneously review all requests for licensing after the competitions in the first trimester of 2023 have been completed and evaluate the effect of the calendar review project. The resolution can be accessed here.
- Second, Resolution 2023-02 applies to the first trimester of the competition calendar in Florida and requests for 2024 mileage exemption applications. This replicates the resolutions approved in 2021 and 2022. This will allow the Federation the opportunity to continue to review all of requests for mileage exemption contemporaneously once the 2023 competitions have been completed, a process that has proven very successful the past two years. The resolution can be accessed here.
- The amended bylaws were approved. The key changes included a new definition section at the beginning of the document, gender-neutralized language throughout consistent with the DEI Action Plan, a more narrow definition of a protected competition, increased integrity requirements to serve on Board of Directors, recognition of mediation for alternate dispute resolution, and amended definition for retaliation. The updated bylaws can be accessed here.
- A motion to adopt USEF rules for Dressage, Eventing, Para-Dressage, Combined Driving, and Vaulting to be in alignment with FEI rules passed unanimously. Additionally, a motion to approve six Extraordinary Rule Changes passed unanimously. The six rules included amending several hunter, jumper and equitation rules to accommodate data processing for USHJA’s membership database, amending the prize money requirements and restrictions for hunter and jumper competitions, and amending the licensure review and appeal process for licensed officials and applicants. The full listing of approved rule changes can be accessed here.
- The 2023 Executive Committee includes Tom O’Mara (President), Judy Werner (Vice-President), Judy Sloan (Secretary/Treasurer), Lisa Gorretta, Deborah Johnson, Jon Kreitz, Ellie Brimmer, Ali Brock, and Lauren Nicholson.