“It has been a long road to get here—and there's an exciting road before us,” said President David O'Connor to open his first keynote address at the new US Equestrian Federation's first annual meeting. O'Connor, also the premier event rider in the U.S., and 2000 Olympic Gold Medalist, presented his vision in an inspiring talk Thursday, January 15 at the Biltmore hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
To herald the future of the Federation, O'Connor unveiled a new logo: “A very strong image, about the images of the past that came together for the future of our sport.” The USEF emblem blends the familiar shield of the USET with the Pegasus of the AHSA/USA Equestrian.
USEF has emerged after years of debate between the two previous associations. An audience of 200 Federation members and leaders eagerly listened to O'Connor's expression of commitment. “We came through a problem-solving exercise,” he said about the years of debate. About the spirit of the Federation, he said, “I've been excited to feel in the last 36 hours here this new attitude that is fostering.”
He shared his vision, reminding Federation members, “It's important for us all to re-evaluate why we're here, and who we represent. We're here for the next generation.” O'Connor emphasized the Federation's commitment to the horse. “We've been given the responsibility of the survival of a species.”
He sees opportunities in how the Federation can reach out to all horse people. “There is a huge group of unrecognized shows. Can we offer services to invite them to be part of this community, and offer tools for the growth of our sport in every region of the U.S.?” Describing the meeting's imminent goals, O'Connor named the changes to the mileage rule for show schedules and the hunter-jumper affiliate organization.
Alan Balch, O'Connor's predecessor at USA Equestrian, summed up his impression of the keynote: “It was excellent in every aspect. We should all swell with pride to have someone of his experience and vision leading us. I couldn't be more proud of him.”
O'Connor also welcomed John Long, the Federation's CEO. Onstage he awarded Long membership in the US Eventing Association, and encouraged other affiliate organizations to do the same. Samuel Barish, president of the US Dressage Federation and seated at O'Connor's table, immediately assented on Long's USDF membership.
By Charlene Strickland for horsesdaily.com