BY PIPER KLEMM
Every year, I pay membership and fees so I can play on the USEF playing field. Do I need to? Honestly, no. I could jump 2’6″ in any sandbox. There are plenty of ways I can enjoy my ponies without that cost, but I love it. I love going to big shows, watching the greatest our sport has to offer. Watching the bigger rings inspires me. At the end of the day, I love horse shows—but especially big horse shows. I do have the joy.
Even so, my $80 membership fee, all the horse lifetime recordings I have paid, my required USHJA memberships to show, USHJA horse lifetime recordings, $23 mandatory fee at every show, $7 fee every horse every show, the fees for this and for that—they wear on me. It wears on me just like it does everyone else.
I get it. We are a small membership base. We have high needs. There is so much going on from competition standards to jumbotrons to drugs and medication and Safe Sport. I support all of these initiatives, at least conceptually. I support, wholeheartedly, a level playing field. May the best athlete win. I support just about every single USEF initiative that endeavors to grow the sport.
But then I learned that USEF Network is fronting the cost to live stream both IEA and IHSA Championships, and I have to ask: why are we spending membership money on non-members?
Now don’t get me wrong, The Plaid Horse loves both of these organizations and supports them with coverage. IEA is a fabulous organization that’s very well-run and growing to meet the needs of equestrians. It pushes us into the future. IHSA is over 50 years strong in growing the sport and providing opportunities to riders of all levels.
But, IEA and IHSA members are not USEF members. They don’t pay dues, and they’re not even required to be horse show members. Yet, USEF uses funds its showing members pay to live stream their event.
USEF’s Julian McPeak explains:
While there is no formal agreement that currently exists between IEA and IHSA and USEF, USEF recognizes that these, and many other collegiate and interscholastic organizations, are extremely important to our industry, especially at the grassroots level of our sport and providing an opportunity for young people to be involved with horses. Over the last few years, USEF has worked with IEA and IHSA on several important initiatives to help promote their involvement in the equestrian industry. These initiatives include support of their national events and awards through livestreaming and presentation at the USEF Annual Meeting, taking the USEF Joy Tour booth to their events, promoting their work through the USEF membership communication and social media outlets, and providing their memberships with USEF free, fan memberships. USEF is currently working towards formal agreements with IEA and IHSA as the footstones for our new, educational partner category, in an effort to continue to support and invest in their organizations and the important role they play in the equestrian industry.
These organizations are considering playing ball, but currently aren’t. So we invite them to our member award ceremonies and pay to promote and grow them with USEF member funds?
Doesn’t sit right with me.
How do you feel? Get involved with your opinion at USEF Customer Care –
859-258-2472, [email protected]