"This is the most significant event in USDF's history," said President Dr. Sam Barish while cutting the bright blue ribbon wrapped around an artist's rendering of the building. "What a thrill it is to open the USDF National Education Center here at the Kentucky Horse Park, the horse capitol of the United States. Our future has never been brighter."
Nearly 200 equine sport enthusiasts, media and state government dignitaries braved a rainy afternoon, April 21, at the Kentucky Horse Park to join United States Dressage Federation (USDF) officials and staff in a ribbon cutting ceremony of the Roemer Foundation USDF Hall of Fame and Gypsy Woods Farm Dressage Resource Center. Due to weather, the ceremony was held inside the Grand Prix Seminar Room.
The ceremony marks the first time in its 33-year history that USDF has had a permanent location. With the move, USDF now has unprecedented opportunity to meet the needs of the dressage community, both nationally and internationally.
The Roemer Foundation USDF Hall of Fame, named in memory of Iron Spring Farm's Dutch-bred stallion, Roemer, will showcase legendary riders, trainers, instructors, judges, association leaders, journalists and horses that have made remarkable contributions to dressage in the U.S.
The Gypsy Woods Farm Dressage Resource Center, the official name for the education facility, provides visitors with media information on the history and background of individuals and horses responsible for developing the sport of dressage in the U.S.
"The National Education Center will dramatically increase the visibility of USDF, our programs and the sport," said Barish. "Ownership will also significantly reduce our overhead costs. The savings will benefit USDF members through enhanced education and competition programs, and enable us to fulfill our primary mission of dressage education."
The Kentucky Horse Park, site of the FEI Games, Kentucky 2010, now hosts 28 equine management associations and organizations, including the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF). USEF is equestrian sports' national governing body. The FEI Games, Kentucky 2010, formerly the World Equestrian Games, will mark the first time these games will be held outside of Europe. USDF, USEF and the Kentucky Horse Park will all benefit from the worldwide attention and participation.
The Park attracts nearly 1 million visitors and hosts some 17,000 horses that compete or show in 60 events annually. It also adds to Kentucky's economy by $160 million each year, while the National Horse Center community generates more than an additional $100 million. Revenue from taxes is more than $17 million.
USDF's new facility is well on the way toward achieving its $5 million capital campaign goal, and has already surpassed the half-way mark with more than $3.2 million in committed pledges to date. Throughout the building, plaques and honorariums acknowledge those who have pledged funding to make the facility possible.
"We have much to be proud of, but we have a way to go to fully realize our financial goals," said Charles A. Smith, Richwood, Ohio horse breeder and USDF National Campaign Chair. "I'm confident we will get there with the continued support of the dressage community."
Dressage is one of three Olympic equine sport disciplines, as well as a discipline of the World Equestrian and Pan American games. USDF consists of more than 45,000 memberships, 34,000 members and 129 affiliated organizations.
Visitors to USDF will be able to purchase dressage educational materials, books, videos and DVDs, logo wear and gift items in the Lendon F. Gray Bookstore, located just off the lobby. Prior to the Kentucky Horse Park, USDF operated from Lincoln, Nebraska before relocating to temporary offices elsewhere in Lexington.
Founded in 1973, the United States Dressage Federation is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to education, the recognition of achievement, and the promotion of the sport of dressage. For more information about USDF membership or programs, visit www.usdf.org, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (859) 971-2277.