Jo Whitehouse, CEO, reviews this year's Annual Meeting & Convention, which was held in Area V at Dallas Fort Worth from December 3-7th, and Doug Payne has our Training Tip of the Week.
Chris: This is the United States Eventing Association's official podcast. Hello and welcome to the program. I'm Chris Stafford. On the show today, we have another training tip from Doug Payne, but before we hear from Doug, Jo Whitehouse joins me to review this year's annual convention. How was it this year?
Jo: From all accounts, everybody had a wonderful time and it was a real success. Lots of different things happening, so there was always somewhere for them to go and a varied schedule of seminars and symposiums, so I think everybody really had a good time.
Chris: Talk us through the week and the main points of business Jo.
Jo: I think the first thing was Richard Jeffery Show Jumping Seminar on Wednesday and that was at Mike Huber's Gold Chip Stables. Mike was a very generous host and helps us out for both the Wednesday show jumping seminar and also for the Friday Course Builders Seminar.
A lot of activity at Gold Chip Stables and we thank Mike very much for making that available to us. That seminar went very, very well and Richard was very pleased with the attendants and lots of good questions asked and he just felt that he was able to impart a lot of knowledge.
The Course Walk then took place on Thursday and that was at Christie Tull's farm, Greenwood Farm and Tremaine Cooper led that one and John Williams was there with him too. That was well attended and I guess they were still out on course and hadn't quite reached to the last few sentences when the call to get back to the meeting was heard and the ran for the buses. I think everybody really got some really good information from that Course Walk with Tremaine.
The other thing was the Thursday night Board of Governors reception. That was really to kick things off and we had a specialist come in and she actually leads the dancing at Billy Bob's. That was really neat because our president led everybody in line dancing and the Texas slide and all of those kinds of dances that they do down there in Texas.
A lot of people got on the floor and enjoyed that, but it was just a good time to all get together and meet old friends and get ready for Friday's completely packed schedule. Oh my gosh there was so much going on on Friday you did not know where to turn.
Coming out of Friday, I think most of the members would be interested in hearing was the decision to withdraw and postpone the discussion on the rule change proposals for EV149.6 and 149.7 which refer to the appendices one and two, the cross-country guidelines and the speed and the distances, etc.
The idea behind that was that there's some ambiguities, there are some things that people were just taking a little too far because it wasn't specified clearly in there. The intent was there and like everybody knows, you see something written down and new people start pushing it just a little too far and just a little further.
What the Course Designers/Builders Committee wanted to do was clarify a lot of things and put some restrictions on them. That was what they tried to do. Obviously it caused a huge uproar and the board looked at it and said, "We need to take it back and revisit this, so therefore we will withdraw it and we'll take the next year to look at that and ask the committees to look at it, take it through and do various revisions for it."
Chris: Then does that go back to the Board of Governors for next August meeting Jo?
Jo: Yes. It will go back to the Board of Governors in August and of course there's a two day meeting then and that's around the 12th and 13th of August and we will have everyone revisit that and decide if there need to be even more changes, but then it will go forward again. Believe you me, the board members have heard and listened to the membership and we fully understand what their concerns are and they're going to address those concerns.
There's a lot of people. It's got more people writing to the USEA in the last year than it has I think have written in the last five years.
Chris: What about the PHC, the Professional Horseman's Council or PHC that always has lots of interesting items that concern all the riders?
Jo: That is under a new leadership this year. Jon Elliott has been taking care of the PHC for the last two years and this next two years, it is going to Tamie Smith. Tamie will be leading the PHC forward. They again had very healthy discussions.
One of the things that they're looking into is the fact that now you've got so many courses. You've got the CICs and the horse trials courses and tend to be running side by side and sometimes it's a little hard for riders who are jumping numerous courses to be able to see which is the FEI course and which is the horse trials course, you have the national course.
They were suggesting maybe some different colored numbers so that you could see clearly which one was the FEI and which one was the national. That's something that they're talking about right now and that will go on being discussed.
I'm trying to remember everything that they discussed at the meeting. I do know that Tamie has asked for anybody who would like to join the PHC email group that they center their email, their name and their email and they can get ... They will be included in things like the minutes of the working group's meeting and so they will be much more involved in what's taking part and having a part in the decision making for the sport from the PHC level.
Lots of good things went on there, but I do know that Mike Huber has discussed reintroducing the proposal for the three foot five modified division and all of the riders there. The PHC riders who have instructors all said that they supported that because it would make a very good step from the training level to the preliminary level. May also eliminate some of the need to make the adjustments to the other courses.
Those are ongoing discussions, but all very good and very interesting discussions about the sport.
Chris: Then of course there's always the awards and now we have of course the Rebecca Broussard International Developing Rider Grant which is worth $30,000. Tell us who that went to this year.
Jo: That went to Matt Brown of California. Matt had a very successful year with Super Socks and he was the worthy recipient of that award. Jennifer McFall, also of California, she won the $10,000 grant to help her develop her international career as well.
The people are very, very excited about that. I think Matt, he's been in the sport a long, long time and he had a lot of focus on show jumping. That's really improved that aspect of his riding and this year has just had some super success with some new horses that he got and he really is deserving of that award.
The one thing we should probably talk about is the eventing calendar. Lots of discussion about the eventing calendar because as you know, there are always new events wanting to come on to the calendar, but there just aren't enough weekends in the year to accommodate everyone.
That is something that's also been discussed for the past year at length and will continue to be discussed about how do we manage to bring new events on while we're still making sure that the existing events and the organizers who have supported this for so many years still are able to have a viable event. That's a challenge. It's a challenge all the way around, but we're working on it.
Chris: Absolutely. Lots of other awards were presented of course, annual awards. We should mention that the Rider of the Year this year was Buck Davidson and the Lady Rider of the Year was Lauren Kieffer. Both of them hopefully will be on the show next week Jo.
Jo: I hope so. I hope you can make that arrangement with them because they always love talking about their horses and their owners and what their plans are for next year. Buck and Laura were definitely worthy winners this year.
Of course, the Ballynoe Castle RM finally ... Winsome Adante has been leading the all time high score leader board. He still comes since 2004 or 2005 I think and finally Reggie caught him up and Reggie became the all time high score points winner and he got an award for that too.
Carl and Cassie Segal, and Jessica, and all who were also involved, all thrilled a bit to see Reggie honored in that way. Of course, all these comes on the heels of Buck's new ... his marriage Andrea Leatherman and he's like, "It's all happening." Buck right now is a busy, busy man.
Chris: Lots of weddings have been taking place of course in the last couple of years even, but just ... I think on the same day as Buck and Andrea, then we saw William Coleman and Katie Thornton tie the knot as well.
Jo: Yes. It's tough if you were invited to both of them. We wish them well. I think it's wonderful for them both and I wish them much happiness.
Chris: We should mention of course that none of this can happen at the convention without your terrific staff behind you and some of them were recognized at the awards ceremony too.
Jo: They were recognized. We have some real milestones this year. We had Nancy Knight who's our educational director. She hit the 15 year mark with the USEA this year as did Jason Caldwell who is our IT manager. He's 15 years and then Judy Ottoviani who is our director of admin and finance, senior director of admin and finance. She has been with us 16 years this year. Of course then Sharon Gallagher and Jennifer Hardwick both hit the 20 year mark.
We have some real loyal dedicated staff here at the USEA. I couldn't do it without them. In fact the whole team ... We've got some new staff members too and hopefully they will be recognized for their 15, 16, and 20 year terms of service. I hope they'll stay with us that long because we've got a really good great team.
Chris: Terrific dedication and loyalty and of course they will all be starting to think about next year's convention and thereafter because you have plans I think the next three years, haven't you?
Jo: We do. In December next year, we will be at the Omni Shoreham in Washington DC. It is right there by Dupont Circle and behind the Kennedy Center, so definitely easy access to everything that DC has to offer and it will be a hall of fame year. We are also now going to go out and ask people to submit their nominations for people and horses they believe are worthy of being inducted into the USEA Eventing Hall of Fame. It's going to be an exciting year next year too.
Chris: Big year. Then where are you going in 2016 and 17?
Jo: 2016, they will be on the beach in Fort Lauderdale at the Western Diplomat and in 2017 they will be on the beach again at Long Beach in California. Two nice warm sunny venues there.
Chris: I'm sure they'll welcome that, but a good time was had by all in Fort Worth, Texas. As always Jo, a busy time of the year, lots of business done but lots of fun to be had as well. Thank you very much for coming on the show and giving us the round up and we're looking forward to preparing for the next one.
Jo: Thank you very much Chris. We're looking forward to it and getting hard down to work right now. We'll see everybody out there and wish everybody a wonderful happy holiday season.
Chris: You'll find more information on the website with reports, press releases and photos of this year's convention. That's at useventing.com. Now for our tip of the week from Doug Payne.
Doug: I think this week we'll focus more on ... It's just a very common problem for many riders that we've seen coming in and out of the farm all the time is that the riders get on and slowly get going and start to get their horses warmed up, but the horses tend to be, I think just in general, a little big sluggish or lazy behind the leg. Just really not quite as responsive as they like.
I wanted to go through tips on how to make sure that you really have your horses as sharp as they need to be. In the end, what you're really looking for when riding is that ultimately a horse has some sort of cruise control. You tell them a certain taste, tempo and balance and of course gait and they should ultimately remain their definitely until you tell them something else.