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Ann Snipes Moss Takes the Reins to Drive The Team at Dressage at Devon

Tuesday, September 13, 2022
Posted by Lynndee Kemmet
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DRESSAGE AT DEVON

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Dressage at Devon, one of America’s longest running and most prestigious breed and competition events for dressage, starts on September 27 and runs through October 2. This year’s show will be the first for Dressage at Devon president Anne Snipes Moss. A judge in multiple equestrian disciplines, including dressage, Moss has also served on the board and committee of numerous equestrian organizations, including more than 15 years with Dressage at Devon.

Moss is on a roll in her new role with experience, energy, vision and passion.

In a Q and A with DressageDaily’s Lynndee Kemmet, Moss talks about her role as president and her plans for the future.

What is it like being president of such a historic and prestigious show as Dressage at Devon?

It’s fun to work with all the different facets of the show and to help all the team members stay focused and pointed in the same direction. That’s one of the biggest management challenges as there are so many moving pieces that all come together to make the show work.

Anne Snipes Moss

Learning Curve

It’s been a steep learning curve for me but some of the DAD (Dressage at Devon) team has been doing this for years. As examples, Lori Kaminski was the past president (for 13 years), Dianne Boyd, Show Manager and Sarah Campbell, DAD secretary, have been instrumental.

It is an incredible treat working with this DAD team. It is an amazing group that, if added together, has accumulated 1,000’s of years cumulative DAD of experience. They are like having an encyclopedia at my fingertips.

We also have an amazing volunteer corps at DAD of over 200 people who every year come from all over the country. Last year, luckily, Jayne Hench took over as our volunteer coordinator. She did it by the seat of her pants because we recruited her just weeks before the show. I asked her to stay on this year as VP of Volunteers and she agreed. It is an enormous job and this year she will be managing over 200 volunteers with 30+ DAD Committee Members that make the show happen.

As a 501c3, the show relies on the generosity of this amazing crew to work long hours in all weather for six days- over 10,000 hours of volunteer hours in all. The show management, competitors, owners and spectators owe this dedicated team a huge measure of gratitude.

There Is No Playbook

The job of president doesn’t come with a playbook and has a brief job description, but it does come with many, many meetings. I’ve spent hours and hours of time on Zoom, phone calls and email trails having conversations with the committees and individuals pouring over every possible detail of the show. I am extremely grateful for the tremendous amount of time and energy the Board, Management Team and Committee have put into the show this year.

The real fun, however, is the prospect of having another incredible FEI World Cup Qualifier with one and three star CDI’s with the biggest amateur CDI classes in the country and the biggest All breeds Sport Horse Breed Show in the country. Dressage at Devon has such a huge impact on the local dressage community- competitors, breeders, owners, vendors, sponsors, spectators – all coming together again for our 47th year for a dressage extravaganza.

I am grateful for the hard work of the DAD Board; George Williams, Anne Gribbons, JJ Tate, Christina Morin-Graham,Nicole DelGiorno, Robbie Kankus, Lori Kaminski, Karen Ramsing-Bigler, and Nancy Williams in helping to create a vision for the future of the show.

When you became president, did you already have some ideas of things you wanted to change or add to the show? And if so, what were they?

My first plan as president was just to take over the reins smoothly from Lori. I honestly didn’t know the management team that well. So, I knew it would take a bit to get those relationships formed. I also just wanted to do an overview of the management structure and see if we could be more efficient as a team. We had some overlap in managers and roles, so we changed some of the titles to restructure the team. As a result, a VP of Public Relations, and VP of Show Operations and VP of Volunteers positions were created.

Defining Goals

The VP of Public Relations and Show Operations position still need to be filled. In 2023, I hope to find people to fill those positions and Education Chair, Historian Chair.

My second goal has been to find way to get the show more financially stable for the long-term. As part of that, we are working on a capital fundraising campaign for the show. Nicole DelGiorno (a member of the DAD board) is working to help us get the capital campaign off the ground to secure the future of the show. It is almost a million dollar endeavor to host the show each year which relies on enormous support from competitors, spectators, vendors, sponsorships and donations.

As a 501c3, our goal is to meet out budget and hopefully be able to support a beneficiary. Since 2012, we have donated over $60,000 to the Delaware Valley Dressage and Combined Training Association (DVCTA) with a percentage of our gross and 50% of the profit from the Pub at the show. These monies support the educational and youth programs in the club, which does help to fulfill our mission as a non-profit.

This year, we are close to meeting our goals with sponsorships, vendors and donations thanks to help from a new hire – Lisa Engel, Director of Sponsors and Vendors. She has done a tremendous job reaching out to previous sponsors and vendors. Plus, she has a huge network of her own. Though I am nervous about the bottom line, I know the community will lend its support to carry the show into the future.

Sabine Schut Kery
Olympian and Team Silver Medalist Sabine Schut Kery returns to the Dressage at Devon Dixon Oval to host a master class.

Olympian Sabine Schut-Kery to Kick Off Educational Initiatives

Another great new educational event we have this year is the master class with Olympian Sabine Schut-Kery. This was the brilliant idea of Board Member Christina Morin-Graham. She has amassed a great team to produce this event with the help of Event Manager Doreen Garland. It will be a super educational event geared to training horses from green to Grand Prix. The line-up of exceptional riders working with Sabine and their talented horses will make this a wonderful evening.

This year we are supporting the judging community by offering the USDF Continuing Education session ”Know the Movements” on Thursday from 10am-1pm. It is a three hour presentation with FEI judge Jeanne McDonald to hone judging and riding skills. All riders and judges are welcome to attend, tickets can be found on the website under “USDF CE”.

Recently, our long-time PR Chair Ginny Simon’s stepped down, and we found Phelps Media Group to take over her position to promote the show. Their huge reach on social Media has been a big asset in promoting the show to competitors and spectators for the many parties, education events, sponsorship and vendors at the show this year.

And Then There's the Parties

Speaking of parties, there a few new ones to round out the ‘regulars’…. We have a great line-up this year: Wednesday 9/28 the Welcome Party for Competitors, Volunteers and Vendors, Thursday 9/29 “Pie and Prosecco” post Master Class dessert reception with Sabine Schut-Kery and the Master Class riders in the New Devon Club, Friday 9/30 “Roaring 20’s Party” sponsored by KingsView Partners will be held in the New Devon club with a sky view of the show grounds and will feature libations from sponsor Levantine Brewing, Saturday 10/1 The Sommsation Box-holders Party will feature wine tasting of Sommsations premium wines.

What have you found to be some of the biggest challenges facing Dressage and Devon and how are you meeting those challenges?

For me, the hardest thing for me being president is not knowing what I don’t know, such as details that I didn’t see on the horizon and that were my job, but I didn’t know it. Keeping up with the details of the work being done by the 9 Board Members, 7 Management Team Members and the 30 + Committee Members is a part-time job in itself.

Seeking the Return of Who's Who In USA Dressage

The biggest challenges the show faces is the competition from the CDI show series in Wellington, and The World Equestrian Center in Florida. Basically, the CDI-level riders can go to Wellington for all the points and qualifications they need. It used to be that riders came to Devon for that- the names on our many CDI trophies are a who’s who list of our country's best riders. Many CDIs have disappeared on the East Coast, DAD is one of two in the Mid-Atlantic region this year, the CDI’s in New England have folded. It has become very difficult to get all the US top riders to come to Devon.

Appreciating Canadian Support

We are blessed that the Canadian Olympic Team riders regularly come to the show, and we do have a good base of loyal and excellent local CDI riders. But, we need more top riders to get the sponsorship and the spectators to support the show. That’s our biggest challenge.

I would love to have a beneficiary (in addition to DVCTA) that we can all get behind to support the sport in the community. That is an issue which the board is working, but, of course, we need to make a profit to have more money in the coffers to donate to a beneficiary.

I am grateful for the tremendous support from the volunteers, competitors, owners, spectator, sponsors and vendors who come to the show year after year. Their support carries the show forward and keeps the show magic alive.

Are you planning to stay on as president? And if so, what are some of your plans for the future?

Yes, I am already looking at 2023. I already have a notebook here of three pages of things I’d like to implement. I think there are many ways that we can leverage social media to expand the reach of the show from competitors to live-stream viewership.

I would like the show to find ways to be more collaborative and supportive of all the FEI shows and major equestrian events in the region, including races, horse shows, horse trials, polo, etc. in order to build that spectator base. Polo people aren’t always aware of the dressage and jumping events and dressage people don’t always know when polo and racing events are happening. I’d like to help connect us all.

Expanding Educational Opportunities

I want to continue to expand educational opportunities such as the master class and we are already in discussions with another excellent person for next year. In the past, many educational events were held during DAD and I’d like to get back to that again. Perhaps we can host lectures on a series of topics from breeding to pre-purchase exams or other veterinary topics. We have many good educational resources in the area.

Scribe Training

What I really need is someone as an educational chair for the show. Another educational thing that I’d like to do is offer some type of scribe training. I think something like that can easily be done online. This would include some breed show scribe training because we are always scrambling to get scribes.

It would also be good for the regular dressage shows because they always need scribes. This is something that we could do in the off season.

The Need For Breed Show Handlers

I’d also like to work with the USDF to encourage more training in handling for breed shows. We don’t have enough people who can do catch handling at the breed show. I’ve spoken to some of the handlers and they’ve expressed a great willingness to help and to mentor young people with an interest. In 2022, Hilltop hosted a USDF handlers program and I hope they can do it again in 2023.

I would also like to expand the Dressage Explorers’ program that we have on kids day. It has already mushroomed this year and now includes Barn Day on Sunday. Barns can sign up for a contest to show who has the most spirit. We have two great prizes for winning barns. One is that they would get to audit the Region 1 USDF FEI Youth Clinic with George Williams and the other is a riding clinic with Silva Martin. Sally Hibbert has been in charge of this for us.

50th Anniversary in 2025

Looking toward to 2025 is our 50th anniversary. I have an idea of creating a DAD alumni club and invite everyone who has ever competed at the show to a Saturday night party. If you go to the trophy room and look at all the names on the trophies, they are incredible. So many really incredible people have competed at this show over the years and I think it would be so fun to bring all these people together to celebrate the history of the show.

To learn more about the competitions, parties and other events scheduled for this year’s Dressage at Devon, visit the show website at dressageatdevon.org.