What Happens in Vegas…

What Happens in Vegas…

2015 USDF Convention in Las Vegas
by Nicole Landreneau

It was an honor to represent SEDA at the USDF Convention in Las Vegas in December. Convention is always an interesting experience: somewhat predictable, but always a few surprises.
As the delegate for SEDA, I am required to attend the two Region 9 meetings held at Convention. The first day is always a long meeting, with much to cover and, typically, a few visitors come in. This time, the visitor was a representative from The Dressage Foundation. This worthy organization does a lot to provide money for dressage education at all levels. They were excited to report that Region 9 has received the most grants given to GMOs, amounting to over $50,000! This doesn’t happen without support, so if you’re looking for a dressage-related organization to donate to, please consider The Dressage Foundation. As they like to say, no amount is too little or too much, and goes a long way to assist in dressage education around the country.

2015-12-04 13.48.00A lot of Regional business is discussed in these meetings, as well as a recap of the Championships. For 2015, there was an increase in the number of riders competing in the competition (to the point they had to find a judge at the last minute) and the overall impression of the event was positive. Houston Dressage Society again asked for volunteers to help with the competition.  There are many perks for people volunteering at the Championships, not the least of which includes meals and lodging … and a bonus of money given to SEDA based on the number of man hours worked by our members. Everyone is encouraged to think about it for next year.

It was also reported that Houston hosted the Para Dressage finals and it was a great success with riders and horses coming from all over the country.

The CDI Houston will be hosting in 2016 will be a 2* instead of a 3*, which saves them a bit of money on judges. New this year will be an Adult Amateur division with prize money, through I-1. They are hoping to encourage many new participants who will be interested in the opportunity to compete at an international level without having to compete against the professionals.

If you’re looking for a way to advertise you or your business in an inexpensive way, the SWDC is looking for rider patch sponsorships ($100). SWDC is also looking for new board members, especially someone who is not competing and could be available to hand out awards at the show. Contact them directly if you’re interested in participating in either of these opportunities.

2015-12-04 09.41.38There was also a review and a discussion of the potential new USDF logo designs. USDF would like to update their logo and has developed a few options which attendees were allowed to review and comment on. All options presented look very similar to the Dressage Finals logo, so it will be interesting to see which version winds up being chosen.

We had a brief review of topics covered in many of the Committee meetings as well. Some items of note included:

  • a new TD fund available through The Dressage Foundation to help a ‘r’ judge become an ‘R’ judge
  • a reminder that at Regional Championships, I1 and I2 are NOT consecutive levels and riders cannot qualify for both
  • it was also stressed the that scores earned across regions may not qualify for championships if the score was earned after the end of show season in the region in which it was earned – the day after the closing date of the current year Championships is the first day of the new season in that region
  • there are going to be requirements for proof of flu vaccinations at FEI/USEF shows
  • the Jr/YR championships will be held in Colorado, and there is much apprehension about this location because of concerns regarding when to ship horses in to allow them to adjust to the altitude
  • competitors age 21 and under must now wear helmets at the job at FEI shows
  • there are not going to be any more USDF Adult Clinic Series for the time being due to lack of participation – USDF will be contacting all the GMOs to find out why there wasn’t much participation and what types of programs they feel will be beneficial


In the Regional meetings we also discussed topics which would be coming up at the Board of Governors (BoG) meeting. The hot button issue this year was the location of the US Dressage Finals. For various reasons, Texas and Oklahoma venues were passed over as potential host spots for the Finals, and California was settled on as the most likely spot. There was some heated discussion on this, but it was mostly just a taste of what was going to make the BoG an interesting meeting!

2015-12-04 13.48.08The BoG is rather the ‘highlight’ of the Convention. As a delegate, you really get to see the inner workings of USDF – and to participate in that process. It typically begins with a recap of the year, a review of the financials and reports from the Chef d’Equipe and USEF. Like the last couple of years, there was a discussion about the US Dressage Finals and what worked/didn’t work. This was a lead-in to the hot topic of the year.

Back when the BoG initially voted to approve having the Finals, there was a lot of skepticism about its eventual success. With that in mind, the BoG voted to move the competition between the East and West Coasts every three years to be fair to competitors on both coasts. Since we have several years of very successful competition under our belts now, with real data to review, the idea of moving it from the Kentucky Horse Park came into question. USDF did put a lot of effort into trying to find a suitable location more centrally located, and then more Western, and finally came up with a facility in Thermal, CA that would meet all the requirements. To say that this stirred a firestorm would be an understatement! Three quarters of the country does not want to travel to Southern California. Even the California representatives didn’t like the facility. It is a known fact that moving the competition will mean a significant revenue loss for at least the first of the three years in that location. So, what to do?

Several hours of discussion centered around the pros and cons of moving the competition from the Kentucky Horse Park.

Some of the pros for moving it:

  • 2015-12-03 14.07.58More California riders would participate
  • It is more accessible for West Coast participants
  • West Coast feels very left out with the competition so far east
  • The weather will be more predictable than in Kentucky

Some of the cons against moving it:

  • Fewer Midwest and East Coast riders would participate
  • Everyone likes the KY Horse Park and feels it lends an air of ‘international quality’ to the competition that will be hard to meet elsewhere
  • Lodging and dining resources near the facility are limited, most are 30 minutes away
  • The show is established, there is a system in place, volunteers are trained, and therefore it is efficient to manage at the Horse Park
  • USDF staff is located right there and they don’t have to figure in travel costs so more staff can help


In the end, it was voted to keep the competition at the Kentucky Horse Park until such a time as a more agreeable facility can be found which is located more Central or West. At that time, the BoG will again be asked to vote on moving the competition.

2015-12-03 11.52.52In addition to the business meetings, USDF always does a nice job of providing educational sessions. This year, they took advantage of a national veterinary conference also taking place in Las Vegas and thus offered a wide range of horse-health related sessions. These ranged from feeding practices to joint therapies to recognizing lameness in a horse’s back. My favorite session was about the difference between riders and horsemen. It is a nationwide (and likely global) problem in which we find people who want to ride – and may be good riders – but who lack knowledge about their horses. They don’t understand basic horse care or how to recognize when a horse is just ‘off’. All they know how to do is ride. In my limited exposure, I have seen a good deal of this, so it was interesting to hear how it is a real issue in all disciplines. There was a lot of discussion following this presentation: apparently this is a topic which these dedicated horse people are both well aware of and stymied by!

In summary, I’d say that again, this was a successful convention. It’s always a pleasure to be part of this organization, and an honor to represent SEDA membership. Next year’s convention is in St. Louis – I hope to see you there!

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