While the 2018 Adequan U.S. Dressage Federation Annual Convention was marked by debate over a rule that raised the qualifying score for national freestyles from 60 percent to 63 percent, the 2019 convention took on a milder tone on the serene bank of the Savannah River. USDF President Lisa Gorretta addressed the assembly at the board of governors meeting and set the overall direction for USDF going forward.
“We need to improve communication and engagement,” she said. “Part of that engagement is planning for our future; more concentrated efforts should be spent on new blood, as those of us who have been sitting in our positions for a while are getting older. Every year we lose some members, and we replace them, but in the end, if you look at growth we’re not really growing, and I think we need to do a better job of communicating why people should be involved in this organization. The recognition of achievement in sport needs to be attainable, fair and exciting. The more that we can do to expose the value of dressage and the benefits of membership in USDF, the better off we will be.”
- USDF has taken over several responsibilities from the U.S. Equestrian Federation. In 2019, USDF was responsible for all continuing education opportunities for licensed officials, and in 2020 they will manage all training for licensed officials. More information is available through the USDF education department.
- Gorretta announced that junior riders will be allowed to compete in the U.S. Dressage Finals beginning in 2021. They will follow the same qualifying process as adults and may compete in championships for training through fourth level. Gorretta said the task force responsible for this project did not predict that the inclusion of juniors would require extra days or rings to be added to the finals.
- The U.S. Dressage Finals will be held at the Kentucky Horse Park in 2020, but poor weather in 2019 prompted renewed discussion of moving the finals to another venue. Goretta said the team is open to moving the competition, but the organizing committee has struggled to find a showground with the required space, footing, stabling and dates.
“It’s a bigger question than this organizing committee,” she concluded.
- USEF CEO Bill Moroney addressed concerns over SafeSport.
“There is no doubt the implementation of SafeSport has been an incredible challenge,” he said. “The new rules and regulations for governing SafeSport were coming rapidly, and this resulted in a tremendous amount of information being pushed out, creating anxiety, fear, confusion and animosity.
“We realize we did not communicate this program as well as we could have,” he continued. “We’re revamping the SafeSport section of our website effective in January with new resources that will provide you with what you need to know in order to stay in compliance.
“I want to be very clear standing here today when I talk to you,” he concluded. “The USEF and all of us who work on this every day completely support the women and the men who have bravely come forward to tell their stories. They should have never had to endure abuse of any kind, and their strength is a testament to their character. Their efforts are raising awareness in our sport. I thank all of our members for your support and their questions, which help us do better in providing a safe and joyful experience for all.”
- The most significant rule change is the new FEI rules for the North American League, which reduced the number of CDI-W classes in North American to 10 and will transition from a percentage-based system to a points-based system.
- The USDF is also in the early stages of considering changes to the requirements to enter CDI classes. Riders competing at the big tour level would have to score 64 percent at a national Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special or consecutive level with two different judges in three years preceding a CDI. Riders competing at the medium tour level would need those scores within the same timeframe at Intermediaire A, B, or consecutive levels, and small tour would require the same at Prix St. Georges, Intermediaire I or consecutive levels.
Elections And Awards
- Former California Dressage Society president Kevin Reinig, of Wilton, California, won the election for USDF vice president over Ken Levy.
- Incumbent USDF secretary Margaret Freeman ran unopposed, as did the regional directors Bettina Longaker (Region 1), Susan Bender (Region 3) Heather Petersen (Region 5), Carol Tice (Region 7) and Sherry Guess (Region 9).
- USDF Hall Of Fame inductees: Axel Steiner and Jane Savoie.
- Lifetime Achievement award: Fern Feldman
- Volunteer of the Year award: Kristi Wysocki
- Youth Volunteer of the Year award: Ruby Tevis