Dressage Letters February 2020

CALIFORNIA DRESSAGE SOCIETY FEBRUARY 2020 V. 26, I 2 CONTINUED ON PAGE 4 by Connie Davenport For the second year in a row, the USEF Annual Meeting was held in West Palm Beach, Florida and at the same Hilton. The weather was a bit breezy with some rain but we were still able to enjoy the breakfast and lunch seating on the patio most of the time. The welcome reception was so breezy that two staffers spent the evening hanging onto a rather large sign – the danger being that they might well have sailed off with the sign. A common goal of meeting planners is to attract attendance. After all, if you go to all of that effort and expense, it should be appreciated. USEF’s meeting had fancy slide shows, video clips and the big fancy stage with enormous screens. This is the norm; what was not normal was the fall off in attendance. I have no actual numbers but 20 plus years of attending does give me some perspective. At times there appeared to be more staff than members in attendance and I was not the only one to notice this. If you watched any sessions on video, the look was as grand as usual but those of us attending live asked each other why we were there. If I had not combined the meeting with another jaunt, I might well have been one of those who looked at the expense and bailed. Perhaps it is the inevitable result of the proliferation of media and the consequent distribution of information over many more platforms than in the past. You can enjoy the meeting from the comforts of your home. I suggest that another contributor to this is lack of interest. Very few USEF Committees met, so if you are on a Committee and it was not meeting, there would be no need to attend, right? The shift of the Rule approval process to finalize at the mid-year meeting instead of at the Annual Meeting removed that part of each Committee’s agenda. This may have been the deciding factor in dumping Committee meetings from the schedule because Rules are a sizeable and mandatory agenda item. Now, it would seem that except for a select few, USEF Committees will be meeting by conference call exclusively. The work will get done but no longer will members be able to slide into a committee meeting and listen, sometimes gleefully, to the reasoning behind Committee decisions. Gone is half the fun of attending. But, I was there and did attend several presentations. USEF Annual Meeting – January 7-11, 2020 COMPETITION TASK FORCE This talk augmented by slides was the first of what turned out to be the go to presentation model encompassing the 2019 accomplishments followed by the plans for 2020. CEO William Moroney spoke for one and a half hours, effortlessly, and not the first time he was involved in lengthy presentations. Reading between the lines, this Task Force is looking at the mileage rule – is it the best way to manage the calendar? I wish I could say this is a brand new question but it is one that has surfaced at every single USEF Annual Meeting. Enough already. In 2020 theTask Force plans to look at “migration patterns”. Out of curiosity, I checked on the definition of migration and was delighted to find that the preferred meaning is the “seasonal movement of animals from one region to the other”. Exactly. Except in USEF’s case, the animals are not moving around of their own volition. The Task Force is struggling with the data; it is not clear if new shows bring in new people or if they mainly just shuffle people around. Rules that are knee jerk reactions to something that seemed unfair are another area of concern. It is not news that there are too many rules and one hopes this is not just more lip service but will be a bonafide effort to clean up the unnecessarily clunky rules. Perhaps the most interesting point that came out of the discussion was the statement that 10-15% of the competitors are the ones who actually win all that prize money. Interesting, and one wonders if prize money will continue to be considered a valid part of the date allocation of paradigm. MEMBER SERVICES COUNCIL Although there was not an actual head count, the number of USEF staff present was a significant proportion of the total attendees and that included spectators. This was the first time I noticed this pattern which continued to repeat itself in later meetings. I promise I was paying attention, but the only thing I noted as even remotely interesting was a comment that USEF is very happy with their agreement with the University of Kentucky that has transferred all testing of drugs to the University’s laboratory. Significantly, the University has the personnel and equipment and is in a good position to upgrade to better equipment when it becomes available. To the competitor, the presumed impartiality of the University, as compared to the USEF in-house testing, is a definite plus. In case you were wondering, this Council is the former Administration Council, re-named and re-purposed. Welcome New CDS President Joan Williams Welcome New Vice President Pat Hart