Meet Diane Pitts, the USEA’s New President

Last year at the USEA Annual Meeting and Convention, Brian Sabo announced that Diane Pitts would be the new elected USEA President beginning in 2014. This year’s convention signaled the official beginning of Diane’s presidency, and she will be the acting president going forward. The USEA recently interviewed Diane and published the interview on their podcast website. I jotted down a few notes from the interview and have organized the main speaking points below.

To listen to the full interview with Diane, click here.

Background

  • Diane first made her way into the eventing community as a parent. Her son started eventing at a young age, so she was a horse show mom, groom, driver, and cheerleader for many years. Although not a competitive rider herself, Diane has always been involved as a volunteer at many horse trials, which eventually gave way to a successful career.
  • Hailing from Area V, she has represented the Young Rider program as well as the USEA Board of Governors. Diane has 25 years of legal experience, so her expertise on the logistical aspects of the sport is well received.
  • Diane calls herself a problem solver and a creative thinker, so she is looking forward to the challenges that will come as the USEA’s new president.

Challenges and Goals for the Upcoming Years

  • “I don’t have a preset plan f0r the year ahead yet,” Diane said in the interview. Right now she is focusing on mapping out the year as far as traveling and making sure she is available to support both the professional and the amateur riders.
  • Diane reiterated what David O’Connor preached about at the convention in that the main goal is to be proactive rather than reactive.
  • For the High Performance aspect of the sport, the financial aspect will always be a focal point for Diane. Maintaining a public persona that will keep the sport visible for potential sponsors, owners, and other supporters is imperative.
  • “A large percentage of our membership base are amateurs, and they are the backbone of the sport.” Diane is focused on working to make sure that the sport stays relevant for everyone involved. This effort includes keeping the quality of the horse trials to a high standard and helping keep costs down so that competition is affordable. “We can always do more for all competitors,” Diane said. “It’s a tight rope that we have successfully walked in the past.”
  • “The American Eventing Championships certainly had a successful first year in Texas, but there is always room for improvement.” Diane plans to work to constantly improve the so-called Super Bowl of Eventing so that it continues to be a marquee event for the sport.

Sponsors

  • A big part of obtaining new sponsors is to get the “necessary introductions,” according to Diane. Diane encouraged listeners to think outside the horse world as far as sponsors are concerned. To that end, she has begun putting together a corporate group that has access to other sporting companies that could be possible sponsors in the future. She acknowledged that this plan was a bit out of the ordinary, but she has full faith that thinking about possibilities outside of the immediate realm of horses could pay off in the long run.
Diane underscored her promise that she will be accessible and supportive of anyone who wants to share ideas or get involved in any way many times throughout the interview. “There are no bad ideas,” she said.
In listening to Diane talk excitedly about her new position and how she wants to approach various tasks in the upcoming years, I couldn’t help but get excited along with her about the future of the sport. Certainly we cannot take away anything from the work that Brian Sabo has put into the USEA as the former president, and I’m confident that the USEA is fully supportive of Diane’s ventures as Brian’s successor.

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