Equestrian Equity at Eventing Association Annual Meeting

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) returned to an in-person annual convention in 2021 for the first time since the start of the pandemic, and diversity, equity, and inclusion was on the agenda.

Author: Casey Gale       

2021 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention

Date: Dec. 9–11, 2021
Place: Albuquerque, N.M.
In-person attendees in 2021: 237
In-person attendees pre-pandemic: 450–650
Website: useventing.com

This group has horsing around down to a science. When the United States Eventing Association (USEA) was formed in 1959, it had only two-dozen names on its member roster. But the association, dedicated to the equestrian triathlon comprised of the disciplines of dressage, cross-country, and show jumping, has grown over the years to support 12,500 members. They run the gamut from Olympic gold medalists, equine company owners, and veterinarians to adult amateurs and teenagers new to the sport. The association assists and educates competitors, event organizers, and officials, as well as maintains responsible safety standards and registers qualified competitions and clinics, according to Jennifer Hardwick, CMP, IEWP, senior director of membership and meeting planner for USEA.

Back in the Saddle Again

Every December, USEA holds an event that is focused less on the competitive aspect of eventing and more on building the community around it. The annual convention is a place for members to connect and learn, and in 2021, they did that in person for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“We have always offered streaming of our annual meeting and convention, so it wasn’t too hard to pivot to completely virtual,” Hardwick told Convene, adding that the 2021 event had two virtual tracks — one streamed for public viewing, and one for members only. “But the in-person meetings were definitely missed in 2020, and we were anxious to return to our traditional format in 2021.”

Chomping at the Bit

Some of the most popular sessions at the 2021 event included “Competing in Thermally Challenging Climates,” “The Perceived Need for Speed,” and “Tokyo Olympic Games Review Panel.”

Other topics that were top of mind for eventing enthusiasts, Hardwick said, included diversity, equity, and inclusion, and access to quality coaching and education among them. The event program was created to reflect attendees’ needs, with sessions such as “Making Strides for Equality and Growing the Sport” led by the co-chairs of the USEA DEI Committee and cofounders of the Strides for Equality Equestrians Anastasia Curwood, Ph.D., and Heather Gillette.

“They shared how equestrians of color are a vital part of our sport,” Hardwick said, “and how others can be their allies.”

Casey Gale is associate editor at Convene. Illustration by Carmen Segovia

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