What's Up For Dressage at the USEF Convention

Friday, January 16, 2009


Diana DeRosa for Dressagedaily.com/HorsesDaily.com

I am on the road again and this time I find myself at the United States Equestrian Federation Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The Convention started on Wednesday, January 14, but my plan was to arrive on Thursday morning.  That is until it started to snow as I headed out to the airport only to arrive to a sea of cancelled flights.  By the time I did take off I’d missed most of the day and half of the Board of Directors meeting.  I also had a few phone calls from people hoping I wasn’t on the plane that took off from LaGuardia to Charlotte, NC and immediately upon take-off ran into birds and had to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River. Fortunately, everyone made it out to safety (except for the plane that is …and the birds).

I finally arrived at the hotel, registered and boogied on down to the BOD Meeting.  By the time I got to the meeting Marnye Langer had pictures of the crash landing up on her computer and I thanked my lucky stars that I had taken off from Newark.

USEF Faces Challenging Financial Issues

The Board was just finishing their nominations and had moved to the subject of the USEF finances.  No surprise with the state of the present economy that for the first time in its history, “the USEF is experiencing its first growth slowdown,” commented Keith Bartz.

There were lots of figures being tossed around from the losses in stocks and the marketing division losses in sponsorship, advertising and the all new web site “Club Equestrian,” to the loss in monies for FEI fees because of the weakness of the dollar against the Euro.

Bottom line though was that there were those who were concerned.  “This is a huge loss,” commented former president Alan Balch, “and I see this as the most important thing we need to talk about.  This organization has never shown a loss.”

Alan proposed that rather than take the time to get down to specifics that a separate meeting be organized for those interested in getting to the nuts and bolts of the finances.  In the end about 24 people raised their hands indicating they would be present at that meeting.”

What's Up For Dressage at the USEF Convention

While I was picking up bits and pieces of information along the way my real goal while here is to find out more about what’s going on in the dressage world.  There’s been a number of upheavals, from Klaus Balkenhol no longer being in charge of our dressage team to the FEI going head to head with the international dressage committee.  Things that were once only discussed behind closed doors are suddenly surfacing and more people are starting to speak up.

I noticed Gil Merrick was present on the Board. As the Managing Director - Dressage Sport Programs for United States Equestrian Federation, Inc. he is pretty much the dressage guru at the USEF. I immediately went over to him, explained my interests and asked if he could find time to talk to me.   He’s quite busy through Friday but I plan to have a one-on-one chat with him on Saturday.  So, if anyone has some additional questions they’d like me to ask feel free to email me (dderosa1@optonline.net).   In the meantime, I will continue to keep my ears open and find out what I can.  I’ll attend Friday’s dressage committee meeting and see what is discussed there. And of course you will be the first to know.

Silver Stirrup Awards Dinner

Tonight, after the Board Meeting, the Silver Stirrup Awards were presented to those who came.  In between the awards presentations Morton Smith came up and gave quite a nice speech to the audience.

His family is one of the USEF sponsors and he wanted to say a few words.  He spoke to those in the audience and applauded them for their love of the horse and he told them they should be proud “because for this year you are the best in whatever award you got.”

He talked about his dad Cappy who passed in early 2000.  Cappy was a much loved horseman.  In Cappy’s time there was no such thing as tons of horse shows to choose from every week nor did every horse show have a class for just about everyone.  The selection then was slim pickins.

Yet no matter what, that same passion for horses has been passed on.  It was the Cappy’s of the world who laid the foundation for a growth that in his time no one would have ever dreamed of.  The economy may put a damper on what people can spend now but it won’t destroy the love that we horsemen and horsewomen have for that one special creature.

Well, I’m on only two hours sleep now after having pulled an all nighter only to arrive to a cancelled flight.  So, it’s time to hit the sack so that I can listen in the hallways tomorrow to see what news I can bring you from this year’s USEF Convention.

So stick with me.  I’ll be talking to you every day until the Convention ends on Sunday.  As always, take the time to write me if you have questions or comments.