By Ross Creech, USDF Marketing & Communications Director
Thank goodness! After nearly two years of chaos, we seem to be on the verge of a return to normalcy, or at least a “settling in” to our new normal. Both 2020 and 2021 brought an array of challenges for everyone, in all aspects of life, sport, and work. However, with the camaraderie so prevalent in equestrian sport, it seems to hit those of us who live for our time at the barn training, or trailering to a competition and competing with friends, a little harder than some. Gone were the parties, cocktail hours, and gatherings that we had become so accustomed to at events, and we could no longer congregate in the show office to pick up entry packets or have late night chat fests in the barns. There we were, six feet apart, faces covered, with an overall defeated feeling, stemming from concern over the pandemic, lack of meaningful interaction with our friends and families, and the ongoing regulations and restrictions that affected every aspect of our lives.
But now, as we head into 2022, I’m thrilled to say that the forecast looks promising! As of January 1, USDF will have a newly returning president in place, after the surprise nomination and ultimate election of past USDF President George Williams. George is in a unique position to bring with him two terms of experience in the position, while also approaching this term with a fresh outlook and plans for the future. In addition to George’s return, the 2022 Executive Board will also feature some new and returning faces, with former, returning, and newly elected Regional Directors Debby Savage (Region 2), Anne Sushko (Region 4), Noah Rattner (Region 6), Helen van der Voort (Region 8), and Bess Bruton (Region 9), who was elected in a special election after former Regional Director Sherry Guess regretfully had to step down during her term. This newly established board is sure to bring fresh perspectives and ideas to the table, and along with building off of some of the newly established task forces and working groups of the previous administration, promises to propel USDF into the next frontier, with a renewed outlook and focus.
Coming off of the biggest and most successful US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® event to date, and executing another successful virtual convention experience, USDF is entering 2022 with the intention of continuing to build on the successful aspects of our altered reality of the past two years. As we move forward, we plan to continue expanding and growing our online and virtual opportunities to members and the dressage community as a whole. Over the course of the pandemic, USDF not only nearly doubled the amount of content being generated through YourDressage, but we also instituted the USDF University Virtual Education Series, which will continue throughout 2022.
Another area of focus, as we move forward, will be maintaining the foothold we have established through our social media channels and continuing to grow their audience, utilizing each platform as an additional way to communicate and provide entertaining and informative content to our members. USDF social media followings and the effective use of our platforms has increased exponentially over the last several years, and the institution of YourDressage, with its continued growth and return user rate, has provided yet another opportunity for USDF to deliver dressage and dressage education to the masses.
While the struggle has certainly been real, as we look to the future, it has become clear that some of the accommodations and changes that were implemented, as a result of the pandemic, have actually helped to move us forward and provided new opportunities to implement changes that continue to have merit and value worth capitalizing on.
In summation, change is hard. Change is often not fun. But with change, comes opportunity and the start of a new dawn. We hope you all will continue on this journey with us, as 2022 is just the first step into USDF’s next frontier and will further establish the building blocks for the future of dressage.