By Sarah E Coleman
With a new President, a new logo and a revamped website, USEF is rolling into 2017 with a new agenda: involve more people in horse sport by restructuring the membership options, focus on fun and streamline the committee structure.
President Murray Kessler is adamant that in order to survive, US Equestrian must court new members—at the grassroots level. In an effort to push more “average” riders to become US Equestrian members, and entire section of their website is now devoted to what riders (and their family) needs to know as they begin their horsey habit.
In addition, there are a plethora of videos ( currently 50, to be exact) in the new Learning Center covering everything from how to walk a showjumping course to dressage tips to choosing a bridle to managing competition anxiety. With each video, US Equestrian is making a diligent effort to be one of the first places equine enthusiasts, both new and seasoned, stop for information on horses and horse sport.
Gaining New Members
In statistics he cited at the US Equestrian Annual Meeting held in Lexington in January, Kessler noted that there are an estimated 1.9 million horses in the United States—and only 4 percent of equine owners are US Equestrian members.
While many people view the only perk of being a US Equestrian member as that of accumulating year-end points, Kessler wants to change that, encouraging all equine owners to become US Equestrian members—not just those who compete. To do this, US Equestrian is rolling out a non-compete membership for $25, which grants members access to everything short of the ability to show at sanctioned shows.
True to his mission, US Equestrian now includes a “Start Riding” page on their website that encourages riders to ride, not simply show. This page is an introduction to breeds and disciplines; youth program; stable and farm safety; and a horse classifieds page that reroutes you to equine.com in an effort to help you find your next mount.
Revamping the Show Scene
While the majority of current US Equestrian members are active competitors, Kessler would like to see growth not just of the horse showing contingency, but also of horse shows. Kessler is intent on revamping the face of horse showing in the United States to include some smaller, grassroots events in addition to the large, rated shows and events. This effort would encourage even financially limited riders to dip their toes into showing on a local level.
Additionally, Kessler would like to ensure that a level playing field is available to all competitors. To do this, he’s making all drugs and medications violations have more teeth, taking into account previous offenses and making sure repeat offenders have hefty penalties leveraged against them.