USEF Hurdles Distance, Safety at Annual Meet

By January 19, 2016
Brunello. one of two horses honored as USEF Horse of the Year, pictured at a USHJA Championship with co-owner LIza Towell Boyd (Photo by Tricia Booker)

Brunello, one of two horses honored as USEF Horse of the Year, pictured at a USHJA Championship with owner Liza Towell Boyd (Photo by Tricia Booker)

The USEF Board wrapped its annual meeting in Lexington, KY, with an emphasis on the importance of IDing horses and board approval on the appointment of Bill Moroney as interim CEO, United States Equestrian Federation. Other big news was the selection of hunter champion Brunello and driving superstar Peace of Mind named USEF National and International Horse of the Year, respectively.

“The need to positively identify horses has never been more important,” the USEF said in a statement issued today, following the meet. “Approval of microchipping in the hunter/jumper discipline is a tremendous step forward toward building consumer confidence and maintaining a level playing field.” Starting Dec. 1, 2017, horses will need microchips in order to earn points, though they will still be able to compete in USEF events without them, a window that will close a year later, when microchips will be required for all horses competing in USEF competition.

The gradual rollout is designed to give members time to adapt and for the Federation to develop the infrastructure needed to support the program. “The ability for owners, breeders, trainers and the public to know every horse’s true identity and track it’s accomplishments throughout its career will propel our sport forward in ways unimagined just a few short years ago,” USEF president Chrystine Tauber stated.

Likewise, the USEF board approved Bill Moroney as interim CEO to lead its staff in the wake of Chris Welton’s departure, expressing full confidence in Moroney’s experience and expertise in equestrian governance, as exemplified by his eight-year leadership of the United States Hunter Jumper Association.

Other highlights of the annual meeting, which took place Jan. 13-16 at the Hyatt Regency Lexington, included two town halls, one on drugs and medications accountability and the other on coaching. The ensuing discussions, on clean sport, training and safe sport, brought important topics to the forefront. The USEF summary says its membership sent a message loud and clear: “Fix our sport and get us on the right track.”

Advancements in regulation pursuing those goals include: publishing enhanced hearing findings that provide more insight into the reasoning behind penalties and listing of penalty guidelines (to explain the consequences of drug rule infractions). A third aspect, suspension of the horse involved in the rule infraction, is currently in regulatory review, being analyzed by the USEF Hearing Committee, which will provide a recommendation to the Board of Directors.

Discussions surrounding coaching created a lot of enthusiasm across breeds and disciplines; those who have current programs welcomed the Federation’s support for their programs. We are working together to develop and implement a national coaching platform. Safe Sport, now recognized as an essential component to all sport governance, is on the global radar, and getting additional scrutiny from the USEF, where it has always been of central importance. “The USEF must and will become proficient at policing ourselves and confronting issues according to USOC regulation for the good of all our members, especially children,” the Federation’s findings indicated.

In the area of competition licensing — always an attention-getter! — a complete rewrite of Chapter Three of the rulebook stands as “an example of how much can be accomplished when we work together,”  said Elisabeth Goth who along with Moroney co-chairs the The Mileage Rule Revision Task Force (MRRTF). The group “worked closely with affiliates and competition management committees to bring forth a transparent, fair and logical process of licensing competitions and managing the competition calendar,” Moroney said. The MRRTF will on an ongoing basis continue to refine the tools available to competition organizers to make this process more efficient.

An affiliate roundtable invited the sharing of ideas and solutions, resulting in candid discussions about the some of the issues facing the many breeds and disciplines that share commonality of interest across the Federation.

The Board of Directors had its own retreat, dedicated to strategic planning, to which senior staff were invited as professional leadership specialists trained them to listen, analyze and communicate better. “The energy and enthusiasm of this group was amazing,” Tauber said. “We can expect some dynamic goals and strategies from them in the future.” Led by its executives “with the support of dedicated volunteers, staff and members,” the USEF can be expected to focus on common goals and organizational stability, fairness, accountability, transparency and growth/performance, was the word out of the meeting.




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