Letter From the President

A Letter From Your WDAA President

As we close the door on 2018, I have the chance to reflect on my first year as WDAA President.  I hope I have served you well.  I know I have given it my best shot and I still am. 
WDAA implemented a few new programs this year.  Some worked out better than we could have imagined and we are still learning and working on others.

Early in the year, we rolled out our level 4 tests and a few riders have already accepted the challenges they offer.  Each test builds on the last and offers something new.  I have enjoyed watching and judging Level 4 horses this year and expect to see even more riders attempt it in 2019.

WDAA staff and board members refer to 2018 as the “Year of the Volunteer”!  We had the best volunteers ever this year in every capacity.  Ellen Dibellaand our staff worked with the Oklahoma affiliate to make our World Show an overwhelming success this year.  Kelly Coldirondid an amazing job on the World Show Program.  For the first time ever, we had a volunteer coordinator at the World Show! Katharina Nowotny-Bolesset a standard for the position that may never be topped.  With free t-shirts and snacks, as well as our heartfelt appreciation, Katharina made everyone happy to volunteer and found people for every position at the show.  I am thrilled to say she will be back again for the 2019 World Show.  We had wonderful volunteers who served on our board, our USEF Western Dressage Committee, and WDAA committees.  We had volunteers who helped riders and show managers at the smallest to the largest shows.  We even had great people stand up for Western Dressage at breed meetings and horse industry events.  Gail Matheusvolunteered to help WDAA with strategic planning in Denver last month.  I wish I could name everyone who volunteered for Western Dressage in 2018.  I just feel blessed WDAA is supported by all of you who care enough to join me in donating talent, experience, work, and time to this discipline.

2018 was also a year WDAA reached out to members as never before so that we could steer our organization in the directions you wanted to go.  Ever since 2015, when the membership voted to adopt only USEF rules for Western Dressage competition, the rulemaking process has been done according to USEF procedure.  Therefore, there is no general membership vote on rule proposals.  Proposals are hashed out in committees. To ensure that all members have input, we implemented the “Questions of the Month” in 2018.  Responses from these emailed questions have guided WDAA’s decisions regarding rule proposals without reservation.  I assure you that if WDAA was the Cindy Butler Show, we would have had different proposals this year.  If my ideas get outvoted in the “Question of the Month,” I advocate for the membership’s choice every time.  So, if you care about rule proposals, vote in the “Questions of the Month” and send proposals to us for anything you want changed. I feel strongly that more members have a say through the “Questions of the Month” than ever before because the number of responses averages twelve times higher than the number of attendees we had at the last “in person” annual meeting WDAA held in conjunction with the World Show.

Speaking of the annual meeting, 2018 was our first attempt to replace the “in person” annual meeting with a webinar.  Attendance at WDAA’s annual meetings dwindled to a little over 25 participants in 2017.  Reasons included:  the cost or inability of some members to travel to Oklahoma or to meet on week days and some World Show exhibitors said they didn’t have time to prepare for the show and attend the meeting.  In order to offer more members the opportunity to participate, we decided to try a webinar.  We thought the webinar was a good solution because it would be free for members and it could be recorded so you could watch it any time. We had an overwhelmingly positive response to the webinar and participation was six times higher than our last “in person” annual meeting.  Over 50% of registrants sent in questions we were able to address during the hour long broadcast.  So, there will probably be more webinars in our future. 

Our first attempt was quite a learning process.  Two hours before we were supposed to go live, we experienced a last minute glitch with the new host and found out we couldn’t broadcast live.  So, we recorded the webinar on the spot from Ellen’s beautiful ranch and sent it out in the nick of time so members could see it at the scheduled time.  Whew!  That was a close one! 

A project close to my heart is WDAA’s Cornerstone Education Program which currently involves judge’s perspective videos posted on our YouTube channel.  To access them, click the YouTube icon on the upper right corner of the WDAA web page.  Videos of tests from the WDAA World Championship Show are dubbed with comments and scores from the World Show judges so members can learn what scores go with what quality maneuvers and so our judge applicants can practice and learn.  Eventually, there will be more videos and they will be accessible only to members as a member benefit.  However, video education has been like a steeplechase.  We’re off and running and then we encounter an obstacle.  We overcome it and run again only to be presented with another obstacle, but we keep jumping and running so we will get to the finish line eventually..

Looking into 2019, I have a few goals:

  • To learn more about the webinar process and improve our abilities to host informational meetings for members,
  • To continue to prioritize and expand our Cornerstone Education Program and offer more videos for members,
  • To develop the Intro. Freestyle and Exceptional Riders’ tests,
  • To continue the Question of the Month polls to get feedback from the membership,
  • To clear the path for our staff so they can continue to provide excellent customer service,
  • To continue working with USEF as well as breed and discipline partners to encourage more opportunities for Western Dressage riders and horses to compete and be eligible for awards,
  • To provide clear reference documents for show managers, stewards, trainers, and exhibitors,
  • To continue providing excellent judges’ education programs and working to ensure Western Dressage riders are judged by the best Western Dressage judges in the World,
  • To maintain the best aspects of the World Championship Show, but work on improving it even more so it will be the show everyone most looks forward to each year,
  • To increase sponsorships so WDAA can expand our programs even more and offer more benefits to our members.

I hope 2019 will be your best year ever!

Your President,

Cindy Butler

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