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Published on Saturday, January 21, 2017

A message from the ADS Board of Directors re: USEF’s recent decision revoking Affiliate status from ADS

January 20, 2017

To the Members of The American Driving Society, Inc.

The Board of Directors of The American Driving Society, Inc. (“ADS”) was saddened and dismayed Thursday night when we read the letter we received from William J. Moroney, CEO of US Equestrian(“USE”). The letter announced a precipitous decision taken by the USE Board of Directors in a closed session at their recent meeting in Lexington Kentucky. That decision was to summarily terminate the ADS’s 40-year tenure as the USE Driving Affiliate. We were not allowed an opportunity to attend the secret USE Board meeting or to speak on the matter at any time with the Board, Mr. Moroney or Mr. Kessler (USE President), on this hugely important matter.

The ADS has been the driving affiliate of USE and its several predecessor organizations for more than 40 years. During that time we have worked tirelessly to promote the sport of carriage driving in all of its forms and to ensure the highest standards of sportsmanship and ethical treatment of our equine partners. We are not aware of a single instance of an ADS member being sanctioned for drug or other violations and are proud of the record of competitive and general driving achievement and camaraderie of our members both in the United States and abroad. Indeed, at the recent USE members meeting three members of the ADS family were given major awards by the USE in recognition of their current and long term accomplishments.

The letter from Mr. Moroney states that the ADS and USE had failed to reach agreement on an affiliate agreement and that ADS had requested “exceptions” that the USE Board was not prepared to grant. We were not informed of the decision or indeed of the discussion so we are not absolutely certain we know to what the letter refers.

Some time ago, the then USEF requested that ADS craft a new affiliate agreement and that ADS provide a team to work with USEF in drafting such a document. While we were surprised to learn that no template existed, members of our Board worked many hours to bring that process to a conclusion and most recently provided USE with an outline of the major issues that had been addressed during this process. All members of the negotiating team were in agreement on all of these issues save the licensure of officials who act as judges or technical delegates at ADS only (non-USEF) competitions in Combined and Pleasure Driving. The ADS feels strongly that our unblemished record of more than 40 years of providing this function and substantially all the training for both ADS and USEF officials should continue. The discussion document noted that USEF staff had stated a strong preference for the licensure activity to be the sole purview of the USEF. At no time were any lines drawn or ultimatums given by either party, at any forum, to which we were invited by USEF.

We are baffled that the continuation of a 40-year tradition of service could somehow become an unacceptable exception to some unstated rule. We have questions about the lack of due process in this decision – we have not been informed or provided an opportunity to meet with the Board of the USE or its senior officials. Like you, we have been summarily told that we are no longer the driving affiliate.

It is our plan to ensure, to the best of our ability, that no member of the driving community is disadvantaged by this reckless behavior by the USE. We deeply regret the actions of the USE Board with respect to our status as affiliate and the several steps that they have taken today which will negatively impact our members, our organizers and the sport of driving.

We are proud of the traditions of the ADS and pledge to our members and the driving community at large that we will continue to uphold those traditions and to support the driving community with the same level of service, education, competition organization and other activities as we have for the past 40 years. Many of our current Board members have served ADS and the driving community for ALL those years and are eager to continue that service into the future.

Respectfully,
The Board of Directors of The American Driving Society, Inc.

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Author: Mike Arnold

Categories: ADS News, ADS Matters

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