Dr. Sam Barish was awarded the USDF Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. He started his career in dressage in 1980, as an announcer, working his way into the sport, not as a rider or owner, but as a “horse husband”. Sam served as president of the USDF Group Member Organization (GMO) Western Pennsylvania Dressage Association in 1977, before focusing on his home GMO, Potomac Valley Dressage Association (PVDA). He served as president of PVDA from 1984 through 1988. In 1983, he founded the Colonel Bengt Ljungquist Memorial Championships, and managed the series from its founding to 1995. In 1983, he also earned his dressage technical delegate’s license from the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), then the American Horse Shows Association. Sam has authored over 50 articles on the sport of dressage in The Chronicle of the Horse, showing his passion for a sport that he entered by chance.
Sam holds the record for the longest tenure as a member of the Executive Board through his roles as Region 1 Director from 1988-1995, USDF Vice President from 1997-1999, and USDF President from 2000-2009. During his presidency, Sam’s leadership was the guiding force in the relocation of the USDF headquarters from Lincoln, NE, to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY. In 2000, he appointed the USDF Relocation Committee and later led a successful capital campaign, resulting in the building of the permanent and debt free USDF National Education Center, completed in 2006. In 2007, Sam facilitated the creation of a comprehensive USDF Strategic Plan that guided the organization for years to follow. Sam was also a vocal advocate of a more symbiotic relationship between USDF and USEF, signing a Memorandum of Understanding that led to numerous joint initiatives that continue to benefit the US dressage community today.
Sam has served in various volunteer positions with USEF and its predecessors, including the Board of Directors, Vice President for FEI Affiliates, the USEF High Performance Dressage Committee, USEF Dressage Committee, as well as the Planning, NGB Advisory, and Hearing Committees. He has also served on the United States Equestrian Team (USET) Board of Trustees and the USET Executive and Dressage Committees.
His successor, former USDF President George Williams, says, “Through his tenacity, Sam got a job done which many did not believe was possible. He was the major force behind the move of the USDF offices into our own building at the Kentucky Horse Park. As he believed it would, this move cut our operating costs, allowing us to direct more funding into programs that benefit our members.”