Wellington, FL – January 14, 2021 – Over the course of 2020, members of the U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) have expressed concerns with decisions made by the governing body. To give members a place to voice their concerns and opinions, USEF distributed a survey asking members to share which aspects of competitions are most
important to them and what they would like to see from the organization in the future. After receiving close to 4,000 responses, USEF CEO Bill Moroney and President-Elect Tom O’Mara sat down with members in a webinar on Wednesday, January 12th to discuss the high-priority concerns.
The webinar, named Competitions: Member Feedback, Survey Results and Next Steps, was organized into five categories: licensing, standards and compliance, cost and opportunities, recognition and other considerations. USEF will gather 10-12 individuals to evaluate the feedback and make applicable suggestions to the USEF board of directors.
The five topics discussed in the webinar were:
- Competition licensing
- Standards and compliance
- Costs and opportunities
- Other considerations
The members’ biggest concern with this topic was the mileage requirements and the exemption process. As more facilities and shows become available, competitions begin to overlap on the same dates which violates current USEF mileage rules. Members suggested adding mileage expiration after a certain period of time or upon displaying a lack of standard compliance. It was also mentioned that individually owned or long-term leased facilities making significant ongoing investments receive greater protection under the mileage rule. Some members felt that Regionally rated shows should not be restricted in their ability to run against National and Premier rated shows and mileage restrictions for Regional shows should be dropped.
The second concern under the competition licensing topic was the aggregation of dates. Members felt there should be a limit to the number of consecutive weeks of shows held at the same venue. It was mentioned that USEF’s licensing goals should be more clear and they should implement a more efficient and consistent process.
Standards and Compliance
According to USEF guidelines, all USEF rated shows, regardless of location, will be held to the same standards. While USEF has a standards and compliance team, they aren’t able to attend every show USEF licenses each year. Members expressed concerns that they should not be the ones reporting compliance violations and that USEF needs to improve the way in which compliance is patrolled.
USEF’s response to this suggestion was that every member has access to competition evaluations on the new feedback section of their website. They are also exploring a member-driven report card system that will put the compliance evaluations in the members’ hands. Moroney stated that his belief is that a horse show’s standards should be the same on day one of the horse show as on the last day of the show. Moroney hopes that the member-driven report card system will help them make decisions on whether they will renew certain competitions’ licenses.
Costs and Opportunities
A heavily discussed topic during the webinar was the difficulties of individuals who do not compete on the elite level to enter the sport. Members feel there should be more options for people who aren’t working towards year-end points for awards or finals. Some suggestions included offering tiered membership levels and horse recording that has the option of a minimal or no-cost entry into the USEF competition events.
USEF currently only has two membership options – competing or fan. It was expressed that members would like to see an option that allows individuals to compete but on a lower and less expensive level.
Because a large number of USEF members compete in the hunter/jumper discipline, the USEF Horse of the Year awards are a big concern for the majority of members.
Currently, the Horse of the Year awards are given in the professional divisions based on the number of earned points and money won throughout the competition year. The amount of points earned depends on the competition rating of the show and the number of exhibitors in the class. Members feel that certain areas of the country that have larger competitions have an advantage over areas that have smaller competitions. While there were few specific ideas mentioned on how to improve this issue, the overall consensus was that USEF should find alternatives to current points and recognition programs. One suggestion mentioned was for Premier competitions to be separated from National competitions with prize money only and not by points. This would allow more opportunities for points to be earned.
When it came to prize money, members had many varying opinions and suggestions. Listed on the powerpoint slide of the webinar were the following options:
- Establish prize money minimums and maximums
- Local: offer up to $10,000 (or a different value)
- Regional: must pay $2500 and offer up to $15,000
- National: must pay $10,000 and offer at least $15,000
- Premier: must pay $50,000
One final suggestion was that USEF establish a program that will help competitors decide which shows they should add to their schedules. Instead of relying on word of mouth to decide if a show is worth attending, members would like an established system that would publish the cost per exhibitor and an updated list of entries and class sizes for an individual show.
If you are interested in attending the next USEF webinar, there will be a Q&A session held on Jan. 25th at 3 PM EST. This session will be competition-focused and discuss more opportunities for all levels and the costs that come with it. You can view the recording of the webinar from January 12th on USEF’s website.