Rule Changes and a New Outlook on Equestrian Sport in the Desert – Day 4 of the USHJA Annual Meeting

By Elizabeth Evans | Photo: It’s A Haggerty’s

My last day in the desert started once again with an early start, only this time I allowed myself a little bit of extra sleep due to getting in so late after the wonderful Evening of Equestrians. I attended the breakfast presented by Auggie Langer by 7:15am and was ready to start the day.  First stop of the day was to the Hunter Working Group meeting.  Once again, it was time to vote on updated drafts of the rule change proposals. For the next two hours, the rule change proposals were discussed by both the group and the meeting attendees.  Some went through without comment, while others sparked heated debates on whether the rule should be passed, amended, or turned down.  One such rule change proposal was pertaining to the use of kimberwicks in Jumping Seat Medal classes, and whether they should be considered legal or unconventional.

From one working group to the other, it was time for the Jumper Working Group. The format and discussion was very similar as the group went over rule change proposals and voted on them, only this time it was the jumper rule changes.  However, there were a few new proposals brought forward that were created in just the last few weeks.  This was due to a series of events at a recent horse show that led to this rule change being necessary.  All of these discussions of rule changes were making me hungry. The Jumper Working Group finished just in time for lunch sponsored by the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show.

Once I had my fill of delicious salad, sandwiches, and dessert it was time to attend the Emerging Athletes Committee.  I had really been looking forward to attending this meeting as it doubled as a Horsemanship Quiz Challenge meeting, since the two programs are intertwined and the HQC committee did not have a meeting of its own.  The meeting was a great opportunity to learn what the future holds for the EAP.  There are a few exciting changes in store for the program for 2017.  Many of the attendees also put forward great ideas and possible directions the program could take.  It is great to know that this committee is truly dedicated to helping young riders in the industry by giving them a boost, and that they will continue to do so.  Fortunately, there was a short break to gather my thoughts and jot some information down following the EAP meeting.

The next stop was the anticipated concussion training with Dr. Lola Chambless, MD.  This was a fantastic learning experience for everyone who attended it.  Dr. Chambless started by showing statistics of how many horse-related head injuries occur compared to other sports.  She also defined concussion and explained how it differs from what people often think it means.  A concussion is actually the mildest form of a traumatic brain injury (TBI).  We then went over a list symptoms of when a TBI has occurred.  “If you experience any one of those signs or symptoms, by definition you have a concussion” explained Dr. Chambless.  She also made it clear that you can have a concussion without having loss of consciousness.  After explaining the definition of a concussion/TBI and the symptoms, she then went over how to diagnose a concussion.  The basic diagnosis comes from the patient being honest about their symptoms, observation of their behavior, and a basic neurologic exam.  Dr. Chambless stressed to everyone to please go to the emergency room even if you think the situation is minor. Head injuries should not be taken lightly.  One thing I found interesting was that having one concussion predisposes you another; the more you have more easily you can get one in the future.  Dr. Chambless then showed us the basic concussion training available through the CDC website.  The best way to help is to be educated on what to do in the event that some one you know does get a concussion/TBI.  Dr. Chambless’ presentation is available on the USHJA Annual Meeting site.

Once the concussion seminar was over there was a break before the new USHJA President Induction Ceremony, complete with the passing of a torch.  By this point there were not a lot of people out and about.  Some went upstairs to their room to relax before the ceremony, while others had already started their journey home earlier in the day.  When I trekked out to the green beside the “lake,” there were quite a number of people still there who wanted to be present for the passing of the torch.  After champagne had been passed around for the toast, the handing off of the torch from Bill Moroney to Mary Babick took place.  While Mary is only the second president of the USHJA, we all agreed that we have great confidence in her ability to further the organization and stand up for what’s right in our sport.