USDF Convention in Salt Lake City

USDF Convention in Salt Lake City

Attending the USDF Convention is always an educational experience. The 2018 Convention in Salt Lake City was no exception.

As a delegate and representative for SEDA, I’m required to attend the Region 9 meetings and the Board of Governors meeting. The first day of Convention included the first of the Regional meetings. Quite a lot of ground was covered, starting with the award winners for the Region – the Teaching Excellence Award was given to Marie Morgan and the Horse Person of the Year was given to Caroline Vandenberg.

They discussed the NAYC which is going to be in Old Salem New York and how if anyone knows a facility more in the Midwest, that would be better for everyone as it’ll be easier and less expensive for more people to participate. Overall, there is a search for a large sponsor to help offset costs for everyone.

The report on the Region 9 Championships was most interesting. It was a larger than usual competition, resulting in the need for an extra ring and judges at the last minute. There were over 1200 rides! It was suggested that more Group Member Organizations embrace the Championships and utilize the free promotions it offers with an ad and banners and more. The hosts would like more people to participate in the silent auction: the money goes directly back to the GMOs. These last two are both points I’d like to see SEDA take more initiative toward. 

The Texas group also discussed the CDI which was quite successful last year. They would like to see more riders take advantage of the opportunity. Region 9 is one of very few regions which actually offer a CDI and the only Region not on a coast to do so, so it’s a great opportunity for advanced riders to see what it is like without having to travel very far. I’m not sure if SEDA has any riders which compete in this CDI: if we do, it would be great to have a report on the experience. They are always looking for volunteers as well, so if you happen to be in the area, think about participating and see what it’s like in the big leagues!

The Regional meeting discussed other odds and ends topics which would be addressed in further meetings at the Convention before we adjourned and I headed off to learn more in another forum.

The next meeting I attended had to do with communications. They discussed the various types of communications that USDF utilizes and they wanted to know what members most responded to. There seems to be a general impression that GMO members are not aware of all of the benefits of belonging to USDF and the programs that USDF has available to GMO members. There are quite a few: if you don’t know about them, either look it up on the USDF website, or let your Board know so they can make you aware.

One new thing being proposed for GMO members is a schooling show awards program. The rough draft of the guidelines was released and there seems to be some excitement about it. It’s quite similar to what SEDA has just developed for our schooling show awards guidelines and championship, so I think this should be a good fit for our members. I’m not sure when it will be finalized, but the program will be partially funded by the dues increase which was approved by the Board of Governors. Keep an eye out for the finalized details of this program: I think it’ll be a really exciting benefit available exclusively to USDF GMO members, especially those who don’t compete in the licensed shows.

The USDF publication, Connection, was also discussed. Due to costs of production and mailing, this magazine will be moving to six times a year. Additional articles and resources are available to members online. As will a new website geared toward all things dressage, beginning in May of 2019. No member login will be required to access this website and it will take a bit of a different track than the USDF website in that it will be more education-oriented and amateur friendly with content geared to those who don’t understand dressage all that well.

That covered most of the meetings the first day of the Convention. That evening was a nice welcome party that allows attendees to mingle and snack – it’s always a good time and an opportunity to try local fare. I followed that up with a meeting with our GMO liaison for Region 9. This was an informal gathering wherein we discussed challenges faced by GMOs in our Region and possible ways to work through those things.

The second day of the Convention was a lot of heavy-hitting material.

In the Region 9 meeting, Stefan Hensch came in and discussed the big issue of the day: Safe Sport. This training has been mandated by Congress, so it’s something we all have to comply with. USEF has the training set up on their end, and riders who wish to compete are already required to complete the course. The discussion is how this is going to translate to those who do not compete in licensed shows and for smaller organizations. Stefan mentioned that as a club, we need to be proactive and plan for the future on how we can implement the awareness training into our programs. At the very least, completion of the course may be mandated of all club officers. No one knows at this point how it’s going to play out in terms of general club membership and volunteers. While I understand the need for the training, from a practical standpoint, I really have no idea how we’d implement this. We rely so heavily on volunteers, often at the last minute, I cannot see a way to require them to complete a three hour course before filling in at a show. We are going to have to closely monitor how this plays out and put our two cents in whenever it’s allowed. It sounds good on paper, but the logistics are going to be at best a nightmare, at worst, detrimental to our sport.

The next big thing was the GMO Roundtable discussions. These are always educational and make me very grateful that we have a really good club. So many other clubs are rife with dissension, dirty politics, and horrible nastiness … I can’t say enough how much I love the people who make up SEDA! One of the first topics was finances. There were a lot of good, practical suggestions in this roundtable discussion regarding how to ensure our treasury isn’t robbed and how we manage our bookkeeping. Over the course of the year, I will be working with our Treasurer to implement some of these suggestions to set our club up for a financially safer future.

The second topic in the Roundtable was handling GMO emergencies. What kind of emergencies could we have? Oh, apparently there are lots of things we don’t think about: like Board members dying, the person in charge of the show getting in an accident and being out of commission, fraud, insurance claims, and so much more. Again, there were some very good and practical suggestions offered to help ensure that we are proactively addressing potential problems.

Another topic for discussion was youth involvement. Everyone seems to be struggling with how to get the youth more involved and no one has any real solution. There were many different types of programs discussed – some of which SEDA already does – but the struggle is real, nationwide. If you have any ideas how to get the youth more involved in dressage/eventing/horses, I’m all ears!!

The last half of the second day and the first half of the third is the Board of Governors meeting. This is always a long, drawn out meeting, but it covers all sorts of necessary topics and a multitude of reports. This year, there were a few elections which took place for Regional Directors, USDF President and Treasurer. Those went flawlessly, and I think the new leadership will continue building on the progress that’s been made the last several years.

The big topics for discussion at the BoG were the dues increase for GMO members, and the changes in the freestyle requirements. After discussion and vote, the dues increase for GMO members was passed: it’s the first raise in almost ten years and at $4, it’s very minimal. This will result in a dues increase for SEDA members as well for the 2020 membership year, so be aware of that.

The freestyle debate centered around increasing the qualifying score to 63%. Many people thought this was too high. The majority of people took issue with the way this change was approved – it didn’t seem to be widely publicized with enough opportunity for those concerned to voice their opinions. I got the impression that people were more concerned with how the change came about than the fact that there was a change in requirements. It’s a final rule for USEF, so we were limited to making a motion to have the USDF Board approach the USEF Board and request that the new rule be rescinded until further discourse could happen. That is all that can be expected at this point: whether or not USEF will agree remains to be seen, so for 2019, plan on having qualifying scores of 63% for freestyles.

That was a lot of ground to cover in a couple of days. Because I couldn’t sit anymore, I skipped the educational sessions and went for a walk around downtown Salt Lake City. It’s quite a beautiful city and it was all decorated for Christmas which made it extra nice. The Convention was held right across the street from the Mormon Temple and that was impressive to see … unfortunately, the choir wasn’t practicing publicly the days I was there, but it was still a nice experience.

That’s a wrap on the 2018 Convention. Educational, fun, and sometimes a bit dull, too. That’s hard to avoid when you’re sitting in meetings! It’s always worthwhile going to experience how an organization like USDF operates and to be in on some of the decision making. Next year is in Savannah, Georgia … you should try to go and be a part of something bigger!

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