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USA Equestrian USA Equestrian Issues Statement on USET Withdrawal From USOC Mediation

The Officers and Negotiating Team of USA Equestrian, the National Governing Body (NGB) for Equestrian Sport, issued the following statement on the most recent withdrawal of the United States Equestrian Team (USET) from mediation currently underway between the organizations. The mediation is being conducted by Richard Young of Colorado Springs, and follows a challenge to USA Equestrian's status as NGB commenced by USET in February 2001 before the United States Olympic Committee USOC).

Joining in the statement are Alan F. Balch, Judith Werner, Linda Allen, Kathy Knill Meyer, David O'Connor, and Stephen O. Hawkins, officers of USA Equestrian, and additional members of the Negotiating Team, Kate Jackson, Jim Wofford, and Lori Rawls.

"All of us deeply regret the USET leadership's latest withdrawal from meaningful negotiation over the governance issues facing the sport, particularly when the differences between the parties seem so close to reasonable resolution.

"We continue to be open to a mediated resolution. At the same time, we urge the USOC to support the reasonable ongoing governance of the sport, and what we believe are the reasonable prerogatives of USA Equestrian as the incumbent NGB. Given the disagreement, USA Equestrian will continue its historic and ongoing role in the sport's governance, as the only NGB the sport has ever had.

"Since 1997, when the then-AHSA and the USET negotiated the formal Operating Agreement between the two organizations, we have sought dialogue instead of
conflict. In 2000, several proposals for consolidation of the two organizations were put forward. A facilitated Strategic Planning Initiative was undertaken, which the USET ended in favor of its formal USOC challenge.

"All previous consolidation proposals, including the structural outlinevoted on by each organization's board in January, have been based on the idea that the two bodies were approximately equal in importance to the sport and financial strength, if not in size of membership or staff. So, as the latest mediation has evolved, two developments are particularly noteworthy.

"The first development since January came in the course of financial due diligence, which both parties agreed in December would be undertaken in detail. It was discovered that USET's financial condition at year-end 2001 was very different than we had been given to understand it to be. Based on our evaluation, undertaken after the USET's nnual meeting and its release of its financial statements in early February, we could identify no liquid financial assets available to a new, consolidated entity. Instead, any new,
successor organization would face significant financial risk for current and future USET liabilities, from USET creditors and USET contractual obligations. This meant we would have to maintain the ongoing separate identity of the successor corporation, the vehicle for which must be USA Equestrian's present corporate structure.

"This led to the second development. Under the circumstance that this new organization could no longer be a roughly equal consolidation of previously equal organizations, we felt strongly, instead, that the functional constituencies in the sport's governance (International, National, Administrative, as well as Athletes) should elect their new leadership through self-nominating and secret ballots. We suggested that these elections, and all the necessary corporate actions to re-structure the sport, be undertaken in public at a special one-day constitutional convention, to be held in about 30 days.

"Where we currently disagree is mainly on the method of seating the individuals who would govern the sport from this point forward. We believe each constituency should nominate and elect the individuals to represent it, by secret ballot. The USET believes that leadership should appoint the representatives. We believe that the USET's roposal would be likely to continue the organizational polarization in the sport, while ours would more likely be conducive to harmony going forward. In fact, we suggested that
neither the current president of USA Equestrian nor that of the United States Equestrian Team stand for re-election as president of the NGB going forward.

"The areas of agreement for a new structure to govern the sport far outdistance the areas of disagreement. Both sides agree that the three functional areas of governance on the new board are International [FEI disciplines], Administrative [Equine Welfare, Finance, Marketing, Planning, Legal, etc.], and National [Non-FEI disciplines]. Both sides agree that the athletes must be directly represented, as called for by law, with 20% voting power. And both sides agree that the functions above are to be governed by
a 19-member board, with 5 seats for each of the 3 functional areas, and 4 for athletes.

"With this basis for agreement, moving forward we will seek unity for our sport, a defense for solid, responsible governance, and the involvement of all our sport's leadership to end the conflict."

Documents relating to the mediation, including the detailed written positions of each organization, will be available at, at the Equestrian Governance pages [].

USA Equestrian Inc., as the National Equestrian Federation of the U.S., is the regulatory body for the Olympic and World Championship sports of dressage, driving, endurance, eventing, reining, show jumping, and vaulting, as well as 19 other breeds and disciplines of equestrian competition. As the country's largest multi-breed organization, the Federation has over 77,000 members and recognizes more than 2,800 competitions nationwide each year. It governs all aspects of competition, including educating and licensing all judges, stewards, and technical delegates who officiate at these shows.


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