What does everyone else do, renew now, or wait until just before your first show?
I have to ask a question. Now that US Equestrian's memberships are twelve-month rather than all of them expiring in December, why rush to renew it? Not that I am rushing - yet, but US Equestrian would certainly like me to hurry it up. The use of the exclamation points definitely feels like there's a need to hand over my money right now.
My membership expired this week, and US Equestrian has sent me several emails reminding me of the fact. I very much understand that is it in US Equestrian's best interest to get me to renew as quickly as possible, money in the bank and all that. Since I don't plan to show at a USDF-rated show until spring, why shouldn't I just wait a month or two and defer spending the $80 (plus another $25 if I spring for the insurance which I always do)? Christmas is expensive, you know?
Not to mention that I completed the Safesport training in early September, and when I say early, I mean the very first day of the month. If I renew now, I'll only have to take the refresher course that much sooner. Thanks, but no thanks.
What does everyone else do, renew now, or wait until just before your first show?
If you missed US Equestrian's announcement on Thursday regarding Safe Sport, you might want to check it out. Go. Do it right now.
I am just going to say exactly how I feel: This ... requirement by US Equestrian is an insult to the overwhelming majority of riders, and it smacks of simply protecting someone's ass. I am frustrated and discouraged to live in a society where common sense and even morality must be legislated by the government, or in this case, the governing body of equestrian sports.
I completed the training over the weekend. I figured I didn't have as much of a leg to stand on if I hadn't even seen the curriculum of the training. Now I've seen it. I will say this - it's a good course ... for coaches, teachers, nurses, law enforcement, scout leaders, and other people who are responsible for the safety of the youngsters under their care.
Should every human being recognize the signs of sexual abuse, bullying, and situations where there is an uneven balance of power? Absolutely. Should you or I report a suspected case of abuse even if it looks consensual? By the way, it is never consensual if a person under 18 years old is involved. And the answer to that last question was yes.
Should it be the function of my hobby's governing board to insist that I be trained to "protect young victims from sexual abuse?" No, it should not. As a competitor, I do not supervise children, I do not compete with children, and I rarely even see children at shows.
Should coaches and trainers be asked to participate in a training that focuses on abuse of power over youngsters? Sure, especially if they will be working with children. In my capacity as a classroom teacher who supervises children, you'll be happy to know that I participate in LOTS of these types of training every single year. You should also be relieved to hear that a training for suicide prevention was added to our back to school training this August.
Coaches and trainers (and even teachers) are in a position of power that could be abused. Is that likely? Of course not, but because of the twelve pedophiles and seven abusive coaches that have been found to be victimizing their young charges, the rest of us must now watch a series of videos and answer a stack of what would you do? type questions. I made up those numbers by the way; there are probably more pedophiles and bad coaches than that.
Does anyone really think that a pedophile who coaches kids will suddenly realize that their actions are morally and legally wrong after earning their Safe Sport certificate? No. US Equestrian's position is that everyone should take the training, even if they do not work with kids, since it is everyone's job to monitor and recognize the signs of abuse so that we can report it. Isn't that already everyone's responsibility?
Going back to my first point: it should not be up to US Equestrian to ban me from participating in my sport unless I complete a training in the hope that it will prevent sexual abuse. I don't need my moral compass to be shaped by an equestrian organization. That was the duty of my parents, my church, and my community.
US Equestrian's website states, US Equestrian is committed to creating and maintaining an equestrian community free of all forms of emotional, physical and sexual misconduct.
I could not agree more. But I knew and believed that before receiving a certificate that said I had been trained. I bet you already believe it too.
On a much light note, check out yesterday's blog post for a chance to win a pair of Roeckl gloves.
I was thumbing through my most recent issue of Dressage Letters, the monthly membership publication of the California Dressage Society, when an article about the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) caught my attention. If you don't show, USEF is the organization that provides us with our adult amateur status. Either I am totally out of the loop, or this will come as a surprise to you as well: we are no longer members of the USEF.
Apparently, the USEF has once again rebranded itself as a new organization, United States Equestrian. They even have a new logo.
I was a slightly worried that my $55 membership fee had been spent in vain, so I did some quick digging. First, the website is still to be found at USEF.org, and second, my membership card, which I hadn't even looked at before shoving it in my show binder, had tried to warn me of the impending change if I had only bothered to look at it.
Notice the new logo. The US is large and in red while Equestrian lies just beneath as in the above logo. It, too, is in a bold font while the now defunct Federation is pencil thin and in danger of not being noticed at all. It would seem that the name change had been thought about for some time. Next year, all they need to do is simply drop the Federation, and the transition will be seamless.
This is not the first time that USEquestrian (I simply can't use USE) has changed its name/or and logo. This has been going on for some time.
I am sure the name change was accompanied by tons of political squabbling, but since I don't show internationally and have no plans to be ranked nationally, the change doesn't really mean anything to me. As long as my $55 wasn't wasted, I'll just sit back and wait for the next card to show up sans Federation.
Was I the last one to notice that I am now a member of USE?
When I first started showing dressage in 2010, I was overwhelmed by all of the memberships that I needed for rated events. When I found out my horse also needed a bunch of ID numbers, I almost quit.
I have a whole page on my website dedicated to explaining what memberships you need to show at a rated event. Once you get yourself all sorted out, you then need to think about what your horse is going to need. Fortunately that part is a lot simpler.
Most rated shows ask for a horse's USEF number. I think you can just write N/A, but I decided to get numbers for both my horses. An Annual Recording Number is $75 and a Lifetime Recording Number is $200. I wasn't interested in laying out that kind of cash, but I discovered that a horse can get a Horse ID (HID), which is surprisingly FREE!
To get your horse recorded with USEF, which gives you a number to use for rated shows, simply log on to USEF's website, find your member page, scroll down a bit, and click the bright red ADD/UPDATE button below your member info. In just minutes, you can get a USEF number for your horse.
Horses with an HID are not eligible for any awards, but you can enter breed and registry information on a profile page. And if you ever decide to pursue USEF year end awards, it's really easy to pay the fee and upgrade.
USDF offers two choices for horse registration. The first is a lot like USEF's HID except that it's not free. The Horse Identification number costs $25, but it never has to be renewed. Like USEF's HID, your horse is not eligible for any awards, but he is eligible to show. This means that while you can earn scores toward your Rider Performance Awards and Medals, scores he earns won't count for Horse Performance Certificates.
The second registration that USDF offers is a Lifetime Horse Registration (LHR). This registration costs $95, but if you went with an HID originally, you only pay $70 to upgrade (I've done this for both Speedy G and Izzy). With an LHR, your horse is eligible for all of USDF's awards and programs as long as you also hold a Participating Membership (not a Group Membership).
For more information on fees and registration types, click this link.
I joined two GMOs this year. The California Dressage Society does not charge a fee for tracking the points or scores of the horses that you ride. in fact, neither of my horses even have an ID number with CDS. I think the office keeps track of the horses simply based on their show names.
The Dressage Association of Southern California, the second GMO, does charge an annual $10 fee that allows horses to be eligible for year end awards. DASC is a tiny GMO and has so far proven to be a bit unorganized. I joined in early November and have yet to receive my membership card/number nor Speedy's number. I also just sent an application and fee for Izzy's number just in case he does make it to a rated show this year. I don't think I'll do a DASC-rated show until April, so I'll just kind of wait it out and see what happens.
Your own GMO might have a similar fee structure for registering horses. Check with them before you earn any scores.
The Grand Total
As complicated as it all seems, the bottom line is you really only need to pay a one-time fee of $25 to meet the minimum registration requirement for horses competing at USEF-licensed/USDF-recognized competitions. If you want your horse to be eligible for Horse of the Year type awards, the price goes up a little for USDF and a lot for USEF.
I'd love to hear how other GMOs deal with horse registration. Does your GMO have a fee for your horse's membership, or is it "free?"
SmartPak sent me this email the other day ...
I am definitely a careful shopper, aren't we all?, but I don't shop at SmartPak just for the USEF savings. I go where the deals and best customer service can be found. Even so, SmartPak's prices are usually very competitive and that extra 5% often times makes the difference.
I looked over my 2015 purchases just to see how I saved so much. Most of the $28 bucks was saved on Izzy's SmartPak; he gets a daily dose of Quiessence, a magnesium supplement. But since shipping is so cheap (free) at SmartPak, I found myself adding various things to the monthly SmartPak shipment. Yes, I know that's part of SmartPak's sales campaign, but it works for me.
The number one add-on was fly spray. Pyranha Wipe N' Spray is only $14.20 at SmartPak; it's $24.95 at my local feed store. Now that I think about it, just buying my fly spray at SmartPak rather than at my local store more than pays for my $55 USEF membership.
Did anyone save more with their USEF discount than I did?
Now if only the Riding Warehouse would offer the same deal ...
Or, GMOs for short. I've written about this topic before, but the more people I get to know around the country, the more interested I am in learning about their GMOs.
If you want to know more about the various GMOs, USDF has a handy little feature that lets you look at the list of GMOs grouped by region. First, you need to know your region:
When you know which region you want to look up, click the link here. It's an easy page to navigate. Find your region listed, and select. All of the GMOs in that region will be listed along with the GMO's USDF number - this isn't the number of members. Here is Region 7's list of GMO's.
If you then select a particular Club Name, like the California Dressage Society, you'll be taken to a page that lists the contact information, the group's website, and the full roster. Here's the page for CDS:
The California Dressage Society's USDF number is 700 with a roster of 1297 recorded members. Central Office's mailing address is shown along with the website. Contact information is also listed. I believe that Pauls's position is a paid one, so I can always reach her when I have a question. She is also very quick to return emails.
The California Dressage Society operates like a mini-USDF. Because of the huge area it covers and its sheer number of members, CDS is divided into thirty-three chapters, similar to GMOs. Each of the chapters operates independently of one another, based on what its members want and are willing to do.
My own chapter puts on four, CDS-rated shows each summer. They offer cash prizes for Open, AA, and Jr./YR class winners and over-all hight point winners, again divided by division. The chapter also hosts an annual awards banquet where additional year-end ribbons and cash prizes are awarded. Other, larger chapters host clinics, schooling shows, lectures, demonstrations, and so on.
Like USDF, CDS offers rider incentives for earning certain scores and recognizes various levels of achievement. The new Gem Rider Award is one of those, along with Rosettes and other awards. CDS's Championship Show is held in conjunction with the USDF Region 7 Championship Show. Each year, CDS also holds an annual 3-day meeting and symposium for its members.
I have a feeling that for many of California's dressage riders, the member benefits that CDS and its chapters offer are more accessible and user-friendly than what USDF offers. I am sure that CDS is always working to grow its membership, but compared to most GMOs, it's already a colossal organization.
I would love to know more about your own GMO.
It's almost like seeing Christmas decorations before Halloween. That's how I feel about memberships. Already? I just paid those ... 12 months ago.
The thing with memberships is that you can choose not to pay them, but then you don't get the perks and benefits that come with being a member. Each year, I sit down and carefully review which organizations that I want to join based on what I plan to get out of the organization. Memberships are just too expensive if you don't get something of value back.
This weekend I sat down with my credit card, my checkbook, and a budget. I felt comfortable spending around $200. It helps that I know what I've spent the last several years on memberships, but like every other year, I was thinking about joining a few new groups.
I started with the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) - that one is a no brainer. You get your Adult Amateur status with USEF, so I pay the $55 annual membership. I don't care about any national awards from USEF so I don't pay the Horse Recording fees. Both of my horses have a Horse ID number which means they aren't eligible for any year end awards from USEF, but they can show. I am okay with that.
In the past, USEF has offered a pretty cool insurance plan that was free with membership. I was disappointed to see that this year the policy now costs $25. I hemmed and hawed for a while, unsure whether it was worth it. In the end, I figured that if I never use it, $25 is a small amount. If I do need it however, $25 would prove to be a pretty smart investment. I paid it.
The USEF membership begins December 1st and ends November 30th of the following year.
The next organization that I like to join is the California Dressage Society (CDS). While Bakersfield is smack in the middle of a huge Dressage Desert, I am lucky to live in an area with the USDF's largest Group Member Organization (GMO). CDS offers its members many perks and opportunities, most of which I've taken advantage of: Championship Show, Adult Amateur Clinic, Regional Adult Amateur Competition, Rosettes (engraved plates), and programs for Juniors/Young Riders.
Membership in CDS is $70 annually and includes a Group Membership to the USDF; there are no fees for registering your horse. I get a lot back for my membership fee, so I don't mind paying for this association at all.
The CDS membership expires each year on December 31st.
By joining the USEF and CDS, I can show at any CDS/USDF-rated show. My scores count for CDS's programs and the USDF's medal program and Rider Performance Awards. Unless I join USDF as a Participating Member and upgrade Speedy's Horse ID number to a Lifetime Horse Registration (LHR), we're not eligible to show in the USDF Region 7 Championships.
So far, that hasn't been much of an issue for me. We get good, middle of the road scores, but they aren't really high enough to be competitive at the USDF Regional show. Here in California, the Region 7 show is HUGE and VERY competitive. The show is held in conjunction with the CDS Championship Show, so I did get to participate in the show in 2014. Being there and showing in the CDS Horse of the Year classes was enough for me.
Upgrading my Group Membership to a Participating Member of USDF would also allow me to compete for an All Breeds Award. Speedy would have to have a Lifetime Horse Registration, and I would have to rejoin the Arabian Horse Association (AHA). To be honest, AHA's fee structure is just too ridiculous to even consider joining. I would have to join the organization which costs $40 annually, and then pay for a competition card which is an additional $35 each year. And while AHA offers all kind of awards programs, you have to pay an initial and annual enrollment fee for each one.
So to even try for an All Breed award from USDF, I would have to join USDF as a Participating Member for $75, upgrade Speedy to a LHR at $70, join AHA for $40, get a competition card for another $35, and pay yet another $35 for the All Breed Program with AHA. That's a whopping $255 for an award that I am not going to win.
And, if I were going to do all that, I might as well get my AHA Dressage Rider Awards too. After paying the membership fee and competition card fee, AHA charges a $45 fee per level. So if I wanted to join AHA in order to participate in the USDF All Breeds Awards program and earn an AHA Dressage Rider Award, I would have to shell out $155 each year to AHA.
While I thought long and hard about it, I decided not to join USDF as a Participating Member, and I am definitely not joining AHA. I might go ahead and upgrade Speedy's Horse ID to a Lifetime Horse Registration though as the day will come when I feel like competing in the USDF Region 7 classes. I promised myself that if I can end the month with a few bucks left in my checking account, I'll do the upgrade in December.
The USDF memberships are effective from December 1st through November 30th of the following year. Membership in AHA runs from January 1st through December 31st.
California is actually home to two GMOS - CDS and the Dressage Association of Southern California (DASC). Virtually all of the shows south of me, the ones I attend already, are USEF/USDF/CDS/DASC-rated. I've never joined DASC before as I didn't do enough of their shows to make it really worth it. Now that I am riding with Chemaine more regularly, I'm also doing more DASC shows.
The only benefit that I see right now to joining DASC is that I could qualify for the championship show with a chance at placing somewhat well. It's a very small GMO so awards are a bit easier to get. After joining USEF and CDS, I still had $50 left of my initial $200 membership budget, so I went ahead and joined DASC. Membership is $60 annually with a $10 annual horse registration.
DASC memberships run from December 1st through November 30th of the following year.
In the end, I spent $220 on memberships for the 2016 competition year with the likelihood of spending another $70 to upgrade Speedy's horse ID to a Lifetime Horse Registration number; he deserves it. That all comes out to just under $300, and that's before we've even done our first show of the season.
Ho! Ho! Ho! - not showing is pretty darned expensive!
SmartPak just sent me this email ...
I've had my USEF membership for three or four years now, but this is the first time SmartPak has shared how much I saved because of it. I have to say, this email has given me an incentive to do even more of my shopping with them.
My USEF membership is $55.00 annually. I wish I needed something really big, like a saddle. A purchase like that would pay for the membership. In case you didn't know, USEF members save an additional 5% off purchases at SmartPak. Saving $20 by shopping at a store that I already like with a membership that I have to have is a pretty sweet deal.
Good work on the email, SmartPak!
I blogged about renewing my 2015 Dressage memberships last month. I finally chose which associations to join, but my decision was largely influenced by the new guy, Izzy Zweibrücker.
Getting him on my team roster added a bit more to my membership costs than I was expecting, so Speedy won't be getting any Arabian Horse registry recognition this year.
So what was the final cost you ask? A hefty $210. Bucks. Dollars. Smackaroos. Here is the break down …
We're all show eligible, but we're not all quite ready to enter the show ring. Speedy thinks he's a rock star (and I think he's a rock star), but another month or so of work should have the judges thinking so as well. Izzy Zweibrücker still has a long way to go. Hopefully I'll have update sometime this week. Thank goodness the show season is a month or two away!
How nice of the USEF! They sent me an email to personally invite me to renew. I don't mind that much, but it's not like I have a choice. If I want to show at USDF shows, I have to also be a USEF member. If I choose not to renew, I'll pay non-member fees.
I think USEF non-member fees run around $20 per show (or more). I showed at five USEF-rated shows this year. Not being a member would have cost more than just joining. And, they do offer a few services that make joining worth it. I like knowing that I have some type of insurance coverage. I don't know how good it is, but it's better than nothing.
Overall, it's easier to just give them the $55 bucks a year. I'm renewing, but it'll be a lot closer to the end of November when my current membership expires!