Meet the At Large Director – Sue Mandas, Activities Council

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What is your role within the council?

My job is to facilitate communication between the six committees on my council, staff, and the Executive Board. The committees on the Activities Council are: Adult Programs Committee; Awards Committee; FEI Jr/YR Committee; Regional Championships Committee; Sport Horse Committee; Youth Programs Committee.

What is your council’s mission/objective?

This council’s objective is to represent the six committees on the council to help clarify the intent of what the committees are putting forward to the Executive Board; they give background, and provide expertise when possible.

How long have you been on this council? 

My first board meeting was April 2014. I was appointed when the current ALD for the Activities Council, Lisa Goretta, was elected Vice President. I have been on the Sport Horse Committee since 2004.

What is your favorite part of being involved with this council?

Working with the people who are devoting so much time and energy to improving the dressage experience for all members in this country. It is really mind-boggling the amount of effort being spent by these volunteers. I have learned so much about the governance of USDF!

Please share a little bit about yourself and your background.

I have ridden since I was 5 years old, whatever I could find to climb on. My father had two Quarter Horses at that time and planted the seeds of passion! He and I went on to work together through the hunter/jumper junior division, then on to eventing, settling on dressage. He rode as well and became a Senior dressage judge long before I did.

How did you get involved in the sport of dressage?

After leaving the hunter/jumper world as a junior, I became an eventer. I was so taken by the dressage phase that I decided I wanted to focus on it alone. I love the level of detail and the constant learning that takes place. It is so rewarding to feel the horse’s physique, strength, suppleness, and balance improve with correct training.

Do you currently compete in dressage, or have you competed in the past?

I have competed through all levels, taking many young horses to FEI and two youngsters to successful Grand Prix competitors. I am old enough to remember when you had to go over one jump after your dressage ride, which could be amusing for the folks that only rode dressage! I currently have a 6-year-old mare (Red!) that I am starting. My goals are different at this point, but I really enjoy the training process and will at some point go to a few shows, just for fun!

Please share a favorite dressage-related memory.

I have so many! It might be at the USDF Insilco Championships in Kansas City, (maybe 1984?), sitting ringside at the one dressage warmup arena there was and seeing all the big name riders in the country in one place, and feeling terrified of getting on my horse and joining them!

What horse impacted your love for the sport the most?

That would have to be a 16 hand grey mare named Phaion “Rosie”, whom I bred, raised, and trained to the Grand Prix level, receiving my first 60%. She was all heart and never said no, up until her last Grand Prix test in a Regional Championship when she struggled to finish. Little did I know she was dying of leukemia! She lived one week after that. To have an animal do so much for you out of pure love, is something many of us have experienced; she was my first.

How did you get involved with USDF?

I became a member when it was created in 1973 and have watched as it has grown and become the educational leader for the sport of dressage.

From which committee do you hail?

I was put on the Sport Horse Committee by then-Chair, Hilda Gurney, who is a friend and mentor of mine. The At Large Directors must come from one of the committees on their respective council. It was Kristi Wysocki, the current Sport Horse Chair, who asked if I was interested and the committee put me forward.

What unique qualifications made you an expert in the Sport Horse Committee’s area?

As a breeder, rider, trainer, and instructor, I have experience in many areas. As a USEF “S” Dressage Judge, I became a DSHB Judge in 2003.

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