On Aug. 31, the U.S. Equestrian Federation announced the organization’s new president: Chrystine Jones Tauber. She’ll begin her four-year term in January of 2013. Current president David O’Connor has served as the USEF president since 2004.
Tauber hit headlines for the first time in 1965 when she won both the AHSA Medal and ASPCA Maclay finals. Throughout her career she’s worn many hats as a judge, course designer, trainer and director of show jumping activities for the U.S. Equestrian Team. Tauber, 65, has been involved in governance for more than 35 years. She currently serves as the vice president of the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association and secretary of the U.S. Equestrian Federation.
“Our core values must involve what we stand for, how we conduct our business and how we treat each other,” said Tauber of her vision for the USEF. “In the end we’re all working together to create an image of excellence.”We caught up with Tauber to hear more about her thoughts on governance, horse sport today, and the Federation’s most pressing challenges.
What is your history in the horse world?
When I was younger, I rode internationally, representing the country in the late 1960s. I went on to work for the U.S. Equestrian Team starting in 1981. While I was there I managed two Olympic teams, two Pan American Teams and two World Championship teams.
I got involved with governance starting in the mid-1970s through committee work, and I’ve served on many committees like the licensed officials, hunt seat equitation, planning and the board of directors. I also served as the executive director of the American Horse Shows Association for three years. Through my work at the AHSA working with different breeds and disciplines, I came to have a great appreciation of all of them and what they do.
While I was working for the U.S. Equestrian Team, I served as the director of show jumping activities. That meant when we went to Games, I did what Jim Wolf does now and was the team manager for all three disciplines.
I was involved from the very start with the USHJA, and I’ve served on many committees there, and I currently serve as the vice president of the organization.
I’ve also been a USEF judge, judging hunters, hunter seat equitation and jumpers, and I’ve judged all the major equitation finals, most recently judging USEF Medal Finals last year. I’ve also judged the IHSA Finals and the NCAA Finals twice. I really enjoy the collegiate riders.
I’m also an FEI judge and an FEI- and USEF-licensed course designer. This has given me many different perspectives within the industry, and I’ve had a great deal of exposure to many sides of it and appreciation for what goes into our sport to keep it vital and running.
Why did you want to be president of the USEF?
I love horse sport. I really enjoy being a part of the process that helps us evolve and move forward. I really like being able to work on projects and contribute to the direction in which our sport goes.
Is it a paid position?
The president is paid for days that you’re on the road or working on behalf of the Federation, and there’s a cap on that. It’s sort of like judging in that way.
One of the things the Nominating Committee said is: “The job description says it’s 100 days a year. Do you have that?” I was able to answer that I have whatever time you need. I will make the time.
When did you decide this was something you wanted to do?
I almost feel like I’ve been groomed for this all my life. It came very naturally to me with my background and bank of knowledge. I feel really ready to step into this position. I’ve had a great deal of encouragement from people in other breeds and disciplines, which I think is really positive. A big part of the president’s job is about balancing all those breeds and disciplines.
What do you see as the most pressing challenges?
I feel strongly about having a five-year strategic plan where you can define goals and lay out a strategy. Then you get everyone thinking along the same lines and on the same track. It’s important to have the affiliates understand where we’re headed and why. I want to see us update that plan because it’s expired.
There’s been a lot of talk in governance about restructuring. What it boils down to is this: Whether you want to restructure to make the board smaller or the working groups more effective, in the end it’s all about communication. What’s important is how we communicate with our boards and our members.
We have to be careful to stay in line with our mission. We are the national governing body of our sport. We’ll continue to do core service programs—things like regulations, licensing of officials and competitions, drugs and medications and the hearing process—and do them well.
We’re moving into a phase that’s all about technology, which changes what we can do. That also spills into marketing, of course. USEF Network is very exciting and has all sorts of possibilities. We have an opportunity to increase visibility for our sport and elevate it to another level and bring in more sponsorship. We can also increase better visibility for our sport. Equestrian sport has always been tough to get on TV, but we can do some really interesting things with USEF Network.