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US Equestrian Aims to Build on Momentum in 2022 with Theme of Ride United. Grow Together.

US Equestrian Aims to Build on Momentum in 2022 with Theme of Ride United. Grow Together.
Written by Publishing Team

Naples, Florida. U.S. Equestrian President Tom O’Mara and CEO Bill Moroni gave the presentation to the plenary session for members and staff on January 14 at the U.S. Equestrian Annual Meeting in Naples, Florida. I set three priorities for 2022 under the Ride United banner. grow together. Senior U.S. Equestrian staff also provided updates on 2021 and what’s coming in 2022.

US Equestrian President Tom O’Mara speaking during plenary
(Ashley Swift/American Equestrian)

2021: Listen, Learn and Drive Together

O’Mara explained that three strategic priorities—listening, learning, and driving together—have guided equestrianism in the United States in 2021.

  • Make sure our actions support our members and their horses
  • Discover opportunities to grow your membership and results
  • Increasing sustainability through diversifying sources of income

O’Mara noted that US Equestrian puts its members and horses first with input from stakeholders and careful analysis driving decisions in 2021. The equestrian community has responded to the environmental challenges posed by COVID-19 and EHV-1 and is safely back on a full competition calendar. Compliance visits to licensed competitions increased significantly in 2021 to ensure high quality experiences for participants. The US Equestrian collected more member feedback, which led to open and ongoing conversations with USEF leadership. Safety has also remained at the forefront of goals such as the Virginia Tech Helmet Initiative, safety, and an ongoing commitment to SafeSport.

Competition and participation made a big comeback in 2021. In 2020, 1,367 competitions were held with 61,869 members participating as contestants, owners and/or coaches. In 2021 the numbers increased to 2,159 competitions with 79,221 members participating as riders, owners and/or coaches.

Membership grew to an all-time high in 2021, and revenue followed suit. In 2020, the total membership was 172,000 with 81,000 competing or lifetime members and 91,000 free or paid fan members. The past year has seen a jump in numbers to over 200,000 total members with 85,000 competing or lifetime members and 115,000 fan members. Revenues exceeded expectations for 2021, and in some cases, even exceeded pre-pandemic levels.

Moroni said that members’ dialogue played an important role in the positive changes in 2021. Members’ feedback was collected using a variety of methods, such as member surveys, focus groups, and interactive member webinars. Conversations about competitions and amateur rules led to the formation of the Competition Task Force and the Amateur Task Force, respectively. The work of the Competition Task Force has led to accelerated changes to the ground rules, including a simplified mileage waiver process, the hunter-gatherer calendar process for the winter third in Florida, and a restructuring of the hunter-jumping competition beginning in 2023. The amateur task force focused on steps toward achieving a hunter-gatherer rule Updated buffs are more accessible with the help of great input from members. The result were unusual rule changes that took effect on December 1, 2021, and include situations ranging from barn duties to social media influencers.

Diversity, equality, and inclusion efforts became a major focus in 2021. The “I’m an American Equestrian” campaign shared individual stories of members through a Learning Center video series, on social media, in US Equestrian Weekly, and in US Equestrian Magazine. DEI educational outreach sessions and quarterly DEI Community Talks, along with support for the newly launched USEF Community Outreach Program and USEF Opportunity Fund, have been important steps taken over the past year.

Partnerships and sponsorships expanded at all levels in 2021. Six new sponsors joined the United States Equestrian, and 15 sponsors renewed their agreements. MemberPerks has expanded to offer exclusive deals to USEF members from 29 sponsors.

American horses and athletes have inspired us all with the best results nationally and internationally. The U.S. dressage and jump team won silver at the Olympics, Para Dressage won bronze and Roxanne Trunell and Dolton won two individual golds at the Paralympics. American teams and individuals have qualified at the Nations Cups in Aachen, Boekelow and Wellington and at the FEI Championships with the individual gold medal for Tracy Baumann and Hof Lars of Albrecht in Para Driving, the junior and senior team silver and the Bronze for the Pas de Deux vaulting medals. Young athletes have proven themselves to be the go-tos for the future, claiming the Junior Team Gold Medal in the FEI Youth Jumping Nations™ Cup Final and the Junior Team Bronze Medal in Dressage at the Future Champions. Affiliate Heroes and Affiliate Champions have been featured across the country on a variety of digital and social media platforms.

Marketing efforts created more content that fueled the momentum of 2021. US Equestrian social media platforms reached 1.2 million followers, and Tokyo 2020 content went viral. The USEF Network had 2.5 million plays and the USEF Learning Center videos had 457,000 plays. The U.S. Equestrian Communications Division covered 80 competitions and sent out 330 press releases throughout the year. A total of 280,000 copies of print editions of the American Equestrian Journal were sent to members. The 52 issues of Equestrian Weekly received 1.3 million impressions. The Ride United campaign helped raise awareness of key USEF benefits with a small, 15 and 30 second website, “Why USEF?” Competition toolkit, social and digital media campaign.

2022: Ryde United. grow together.

O’Mara American Equestrian plans to build on the growth and momentum over the past year to reach new heights in 2022. Last year it produced more than 200,000 members and fans; 459,000 unique site visitors; 1,247,100 followers on social media; Outstanding results nationally and internationally; An active and shared membership. O’Mara aims to expand the virtuous strategic plan by improving the US Equestrian product and developing new products and benefits. The virtuous circle includes:

  • keeping an american equestrian home in order,
  • Refining our products
  • developing new products and benefits,
  • win for inspiration,
  • Tell our story and sell our brand, and
  • Delivery results.

O’Mara said members and horses remain the number one priority. He plans to continue to develop avenues for members to inform decisions and governance with increased representation of athletes on the board and committees, expanded competition evaluations, a second phase of amateur teamwork, progress with the Events Restructuring Task Force, and dedicated mailboxes for member feedback. O’Mara wants to overcome challenges through an ongoing calendar management process. It aims to strengthen the sporting structure and results through post-Olympic assessments, best results at the FEI World Championships, and improvements to the training development programme. Safety and welfare will continue to be a major focus of American Equestrian with safe sport and a new policy to prevent abuse of young athletes as well as educational resources for equine care and biosecurity. O’Mara wants to better tell the story of the US Equestrian through an expanded Ride United campaign, continuation of the How It Works section of the magazine, and more interactive educational webinars.

US Equestrian CEO Bill Moroney talks about the membership tier structure
(Ashley Swift/American Equestrian)

The second priority is growth with the goal of reaching 1 million members, subscribers and fans. Moroni detailed plans to maximize the structure of new US equestrian membership categories. Fans (formerly Free Fans members) receive some benefits, such as USEF network live broadcasts, have an easier registration process with no promo codes and auto-renewal. Subscribers (previously paid fan members) get full benefits along with being competitive. US Equestrian plans to expand member acquisition through strategies such as USEF network content maximization, new affiliates, member transfers, and outreach to the DEI Business Plan and Competition Lite.

The third priority for 2022 is revenue diversification. Revenue diversification will help grow the sport by leveraging USEF’s existing assets into new target markets, becoming a widely recognized sports supplier and lifestyle brand, and identifying new revenue streams that achieve scale through partnerships with others.

O’Mara wants to develop a Business Innovation Group (BIG), which is designed to identify new revenue streams that increase equine access, visibility, revenue, and ultimately membership. Development is underway with potential consultants and partners with ideas, such as USEF results and data collection products, the USEF-branded series of events, and the USEF Virtual Training Partner.

O’Mara’s priorities for 2022 will help steer the US Equestrian team toward important goals, including:

  • Based on our strong foundation,
  • promoting sport with new opportunities at all levels,
  • New product development through innovation/partnership and outsourcing,
  • Sell ​​our brand and reach new markets,
  • to become financially diversified, and
  • Maximizing the use of talents and assets in the union to achieve results.

Senior Staff Updates for 2021 and Beyond

Mark Cooley moderates a session with Senior United States Equestrian Staff Lisa Owens, Alina Brasil, Debbie Saliling and Dr. Steven Schumacher
(Ashley Swift/American Equestrian)

Senior equestrian staff in the United States shared the tasks the staff worked on in 2021 and plans for the future. Several steps have been taken by the Equestrian Competition, Compliance and Clean Sports divisions to make competition better by:

  • Increased compliance visits guided by 1,600 competition assessments,
  • new horse transfer process online,
  • Simplified horse/pony measuring process,
  • improve online horse and rider reports,
  • New drug testing app for paperless process,
  • Official Licensed Resource Library,
  • The steward’s planning schedule, the
  • DEI training for licensed officials.

The Marketing and Sports divisions noted significant progress in the growing trajectories and success over the past year. The Ride United campaign shared the first eight benefits of equestrian membership in the United States. National breeds and disciplines had a strong participation in national championships and ways to bring more value to those competitions and other programs were discussed. The American teams had great success in Tokyo due to the adaptability, flexibility, stability of the team and the supporters. Sports tracks will focus on excellence at every level, from youth to high performance levels. Social media has been able to leverage sporting success to engage members and fans, while also attracting sponsors with powerful US Equestrian analytics on its platforms. Membership and revenue growth will be the focus of the marketing department in 2022.

US Equestrian has done a lot of work to support its members with the Finance, Human Resources, IT, and Legal departments in 2021 and plans to do more in 2022. The organization has had a strong financial year and looks forward to having a strong one in 2022. Completed Technology Division Information 45 major projects in 2021, including upgrading member dashboards and competitions, and aims to complete Business Innovation Group projects and other initiatives in 2022. The legal department has done significant work with safe sports and young athlete abuse prevention policies and completed a USOPC audit. Equestrian staff in the United States work on a mixed schedule remotely, and several HR benefit programs are available to members.

Watch the full plenary session and more from the 2022 US Equestrian Annual Meeting on USEF Network.

For more information and the full schedule for the 2022 US Equestrian Annual Meeting, visit www.usef.org/annual-meeting and follow the US Equestrian team on Facebook, Twitterand Instagram and TikTok.

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