USEF membership is speaking up, and our sport’s national federation is opening a dialogue. Monday afternoon marked the organization’s second online roundtable discussion, held via zoom, with the theme “Competitions & Conversations: Opportunities at All Levels & Cost vs. Expectation.”
Change is a global theme at the moment, and if it’s needed on the world stage, certainly, there is change to be had within our sport. USEF President Tom O’Mara and CEO Bill Moroney hosted the webinar with the goal of, “[engaging] an active dialogue with our members to address and discuss topics related to calendar management and competition opportunities.”
There was a three-pronged approach to the webinar, with the main topics of 1) opportunities and new competition products 2) cost and 3) expectations and amenities addressed through member-submitted questions. USEF recently announced the members of its Competition Task Force, and a similar task force to address amateurism is on the way.
O’Mara and Maroney agreed, there’s a great need for more horse shows, and issues vary greatly by geographic location around the country. The pair discussed potentially expanding USEF’s Competition Lite program, which has acted as a bridge to carry events from one competition environment (unsanctioned) to the next in a variety of disciplines, including eventing and combined driving, among others. The Competition Lite program was started in 2017 and has resulted in 188 new competitions coming into the USEF environment.
The mileage rule is being explored, but Maroney reminded, organizers can host Level One and Level Two jumper competitions without needing to apply for mileage exemption. The pair agreed, these competitions could offer more (and more affordable) opportunities for riders at a variety of levels.
Addressing Rising Costs
USEF is exploring all that it takes to put on a horse show. The barriers that are in place to host a show can make it more expensive to put on, which then gets passed on to exhibitors. A question was submitted asking, “Are there steps being taken at USEF to make showing at recognized competitions more affordable?”
There is certainly thought being put into this. Currently, USEF doesn’t regulate horse show costs, and there are very few restrictions on fees. The difficulty in regulating this lies, in part, to the varying costs of goods and services (i.e. hay, shavings, and venue leasing fees) depending what part of the country you’re in.
USEF is exploring perhaps establishing tiered membership that would offer products at multiple levels, as well working with organizers to find partnerships that could help lower costs via group/bulk rates.
USEF also wants to increase the number of regional level competitions within the hunter-jumper discipline. If these kinds of competitions could have a “reduced or no mileage rule so they can happen closer to home, that could create tremendous cost savings for people,” Moroney said.
This issue is even more critical with the lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as many members can no longer travel to where they would like to show or to a venue that’s affordable for them. There is a greater need to increase options close to home.
USEF offered members on the call the opportunity to give feedback through a few short surveys. The polled answers showed the following:
*Entry fees are the most expensive cost for exhibitors at horse shows, according to participating members
*Participating members wanted to see more Competition Lite events
*Participating members are currently spending more than $1500 per week, per horse at horse shows
For those unable to participate in the call, members can engage the federation with input in the following ways:
More discussions will be had. USEF is listening, so now is the time to speak up and be heard.