2015 Year in Review ~ President's Message
Thursday, December 10, 2015
Posted by: Tammy Paparella
New England Dressage Association
2015 Year in Review
It has been an interesting year for our sport and for NEDA, with high highs and some low lows. Perhaps it was a reflection of the weather. Who can forget the relentless and debilitating winter we suffered through? It was very rough on both horses and their caretakers and riders and seemed it would never end, with spring coming much later than usual. Yet a wet and chilly month of June gave way to one of the most pleasant summers I can remember in New England. The weather was spectacular right through the fall, with little rain and few spells of sweltering heat. Now we are all hunkering down for another winter, hoping it will be different.
Coming off that winter, entries for the spring show were down substantially, as riders just didn’t feel ready yet. So the show was a friendly and more intimate affair where friends reconnected. Winter stories were shared at the banquet held on Saturday of the show to honor our year end award winners from 2014. As usual, the banquet was a festive affair with delicious food and great music thanks to the team of Karin Swanfeldt and DJ and announcer Paul Eason.
We heard complaints about year end award winners having to wait through the winter to get their swag. Stanley Edwards took over as year end award coordinator and developed a new system that will be easier on both volunteers and award seekers and winners. We entered all competitors in the 2015 year end awards program without the need for them to apply, by downloading their scores directly from USDF. Those who do not wish to participate can opt out of the program. And all awards will be mailed out to competitors this fall/early winter. We’ll still probably have a party in the spring, and, with Karin in charge, it will be a great one. But it won’t be a year end awards banquet.
In order to save both money and trees, we decided at the start of 2015 to stop printing the Tip of Hat newsletter. For most of the year it was sent electronically to members, except for a few who were unable to receive it electronically and got a photocopy version. Although Angela Prenosil did a terrific job of redesigning the publication to include color, hot links and other interactive features, this decision was probably the biggest blunder NEDA has made in a number of years, and we heard about it throughout the summer from our members. I’m happy to report that we heard you loud and clear and have decided to reinstitute the printed and mailed Tip newsletter starting in 2015. Angela is thankfully on board to manage the change back to print for us. Because it requires a longer lead time, the information in the Tip will not be as up to the minute as the electronic version could be. Consequently we will reinstitute occasional email blasts to get timely information to you between issues. We have not yet built our budget for 2016 so do not yet know where the money will come from to pay for the printed Tip, but we are committed to responding to the needs and preferences of our members, and this was one place where we were not responsive.
As the summer wore on and the weather became dependably sunny and warm, so too did our competitions. Our schooling shows and our new summer show were well attended, well managed and appreciated by competitors. Thanks to Diana Lane for her steadfast support of our schooling shows at T.H.E. Farm in Tewksbury that benefits T.H.E. Farm’s programs. And thanks also to the Sport Horse committee which has fostered and promoted a group of independent breed shows throughout the region that has turned into one of the more robust environments for competing young horses in the nation. NEDA is also active throughout the summer in educational programs. Sally Davenport continued to manage our judge’s training program, which is always sold out for both trainees and auditors. Many competitors have discovered the value of listening to what judges are trained to look for as part of their competitive edge. Karin Swanfeldt and her family have run the NEDA booth at Equine Affaire for a very long time, and they engage horse lovers of all kinds to be curious about dressage and to learn more, and, sometimes to join.
With sunny and warm weather throughout, NEDA Fall Festival of Dressage including Region 8 championships in both seated and breed categories, a CDI competition and an open show drew record numbers. One of our international judges opined that this might be the largest single discipline dressage show in the world. Of course, big doesn’t mean best necessarily. There was plenty of buzz and excitement for the horses and riders to stay on their toes, but the show was well managed and run by the longtime team of Beth Jenkins and Centerline Events. Karin Swanfeldt ran the VIP tent where for a show sponsorship (which comes priced for nearly all pocketbooks) you can have a hot breakfast, lunch, snacks, and wine in the afternoon and a great view of three rings. The VIP tent had its most successful show ever, contributing to the overall success of the show.
Finally, our culminating event of the season was the October Fall Symposium with US Dressage Team Chef d’Equipe Robert Dover, a veteran of many Olympics and World Cups, and a tremendous presenter. Those who attended were not disappointed. Taking place in the world class (heated) facility at Pineland Farms Equestrian Center, which graciously donated its facilities for the event, Robert demonstrated basic dressage principles at work at several different levels and how the horse’s strength and training evolve to higher and higher levels without losing focus on the basic elements.
At the end of the season, we said goodbye to long time board member and NEDA volunteer Jane Sheehan, who has retired from the board. Jane helped throughout the years with whatever needed to be done and contributed a calm and wise voice to board discussions. Also we were sad to learn that Sue McKeown will longer serve as Show Secretary for our spring and summer shows. Sue has had a long career with NEDA as a volunteer, board member and show secretary and has always done whatever job she had with diligence and professionalism. We will miss them both.
We are looking forward to a strong 2016. As you can see from this summary, we are an organization that listens to our members and finds ways to evolve our offerings to respond to our membership. NEDA has two resources that support its existence – members and volunteers. Members are our life blood. If we lose members we die. So what you think and care about is what we think and care about. Keep telling us what we are doing right and wrong. We are a completely volunteer-driven organization, so we respect and value the volunteers who make our competitions and other events possible. We are proud that Karin Swanfeldt, our very deserving mega-volunteer and board member was recently named the USDF Region 8 Volunteer of the Year. A hearty thank you to all who make NEDA possible.
~ by Kathy McHugh