Yesterday, a woman at my barn asked me what goes on at a USDF convention.
Business meetings, I replied: The USDF Executive Board (its board of directors) meets, as do the various committees that oversee USDF’s many educational programs, its awards programs, and other workings. The convention is also the annual gathering of the USDF Board of Governors, the delegates elected to represent USDF’s affiliated clubs (group-member organizations, or GMOs) and its participating members.
“Oh, so there are no horses,” my colleague replied. “It sounds kind of boring.”
Compared to riding and being around horses, yes, convention is boring. I am sure that every one of the delegates and regional directors and committee members and other governance-related attendees would rather be at home with their horses than sitting in yet another meeting room in another hotel.
The point is that, despite the fact that serving our sport in this capacity is not a thrill ride, these people do it. They do it because they wish to give back to a sport and an organization that has given them so much. They do it because they believe that USDF’s educational and other programs are valuable and must be supported and nurtured for the future of the sport. They do it because they have strong opinions as to the direction of the organization, and they want to have a voice in shaping that direction.
Because of the efforts of these committed volunteers, the USDF runs a program for dressage-judge indoctrination that is a worldwide model. It has a program for training and certifying dressage instructor/trainers that is now being emulated by other equestrian organizations. It has prestigious recognition programs for dressage horses, riders, breeders, and major contributors to American dressage. It has a thriving system of regional dressage championships. And this year, for the first time in about three decades, it has a national dressage championship competition.
All of these accomplishments were conceived or at least developed in nameless, forgettable meeting rooms in hotels around the country. They were argued over, fought for, fought against, and painstakingly hammered out. And all were eventually green-lighted through a vote at the Board of Governors assembly.
That’s why, once a year, USDF volunteers make the trek from all 50 states to convene. The process isn’t sexy, but it’s important. And in this blog I’ll be sharing the 2013 Adequan/USDF National Convention news and happenings with you.
But Wait, There’s More
Now that I’ve convinced you that convention is deadly dull, I need to add that there’s fun stuff, too. Every year I look forward to learning from the experts—from leading veterinary researchers to saddle fitters—who conduct educational sessions. I enjoy watching the weekend influx of excited award winners who come to receive their honors on stage at the Annual Awards Banquet. And—my favorite—I anticipate the moving, sometimes funny, always memorable presentations to the year’s Roemer Foundation/USDF Hallof Fame inductees and USDF Lifetime Achievement Award recipients.
After a while, the convention regulars start to seem like family. Many USDF volunteers maintain long-distance friendships and can be seen throughout the hotel catching up. I’ve even heard reports of some memorable late-night parties.
In that spirit, welcome to the USDF family! Please join me for a few days of learning, doing, and fun. I’m glad you’re along for the ride.