Convention Video Preview

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Scenes from San Diego

Nope, no surf or palm trees yet -- although tonight I will try to capture the giant palm-tree silhouette of holiday lights that adorns the side of my hotel building. Here at the Town & Country Resort in San Diego, it's all about Christmas, with some of the most elaborate decorations I've ever seen at a hotel.

The lobby feels like someone's home, decorated for the holidays, with nutcrackers everywhere and tasteful lights and decorations adorning the cozy space, which feels for all the world like my mother's comfortable, traditional living room. No sterile, modern hotel environment here; all it needs is the fireplace.

My USDF Historical Recognition Committee meeting this afternoon was in the Tiki Pavilion, a small, round stand-alone building whose name suggests a cheesy South Seas atmosphere but which was loaded floor-to-ceiling with an elaborate, mechanized, lighted holiday display. Apparently it's a favorite site for Christmas parties, and it's easy to see why.
A Disney nod in the Tiki Pavilion's holiday display
Sherry Guess (OK), past USDF Volunteer of the Year, with giant nutcracker

I dragged myself away from the nodding reindeer and the list-making Santa to check out the annual swagfest: the silent-auction items and the GMO baskets. The auction benefits USDF's youth program, and the GMO baskets are a longtime tradition. Donated by the GMOs, often with a regional flair, the baskets are given away as door prizes to lucky delegates during the Board of Governors assembly. I took a photo of one basket whose prominent occupant, an adorable stuffed horse, I sorely want to spirit away. Watch for more GMO basket photos in the yearbook issue (Feb. 2012) of USDF Connection.
GMO basket
In about an hour, we're off to the welcome reception, in part honoring the California Dressage Society's 45th anniversary. Here's a photo of CDS's anniversary display.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Hot Topic

Every year at the Adequan/USDF National Convention and Symposium, there seems to be one hot topic: an issue that draws the lion's share of the debate before, during, and after the USDF Board of Governors assembly.

The BOG, as it's called, is USDF's democratic governing body, comprising delegates who represent USDF's many affiliated dressage clubs (GMOs--group-member organizations) and its participating members.

At the 2011 convention, which kicks off tomorrow, Nov. 30, in San Diego, the BOG will be voting to green-light or table a national US dressage championships. This is a big deal and one that has the potential to affect our sport in a major way.

The BOG assembly begins Thursday, Dec. 1, with voting anticipated on Friday, Dec. 2. Leading up to the BOG will be tomorrow's full slate of committee meetings--many of which, I'm told, have the national-championships issue on their agendas.

Let the discussions begin! Don't forget to tweet your own reports and thoughts on this and other convention issues. Use Twitter hashtag #USDFconv.

Bienvenidos to San Diego!

Those of you who are visiting San Diego for the first time are in for a treat. I hope you can squeeze a little free time into your stay so that you can check out some of this city’s unique attractions.

San Diego is a military town, and that’s why my then-Marine Corps officer husband and I lived there some years ago. Its most famous military installation in the 1980s and 1990s was NAS Miramar, where the movie Top Gun was set. The F-14s really did come in right over the I-15 freeway as they prepared to land. Every once in a while, we’d be moving slowly on the freeway and a jet would pass right over the car. When a jet jock would power the afterburners a little too soon after takeoff, the walls of my office (I worked off Miramar Rd.) would shake as if there’d been an earthquake, and any phone conversation would come to an abrupt halt for a few moments.

(Yes, we visited the Miramar Officers’ Club, which figures prominently in the movie; yes, the bar looked the same as in Top Gun but the infamous ladies’ room did not; and yes, guys showed up late at night in their flight suits to help them pick up women, despite the fact that a jet hadn’t been heard for hours.)
NAS Miramar is now MCAS Miramar: Marine Corps instead of Navy. But you can still drive by and feel like Tom “Maverick” Cruise on his motorcycle, marveling at the big birds.

If the ocean’s your thing, there are plenty of beaches. The beach towns each have a different vibe. Some, like Pacific Beach, are funky, casual surfer-type scenes. La Jolla draws lots of surfers, windsurfers, and parasailers amidst its ritzy homes and super-upscale shopping and dining scene. Del Mar, where we’ll be for the Adequan/USDF National Symposium, is home to the famous Del Mar Racetrack and also has lots of pricey oceanview homes.

If you’re hoping to take a dip, be warned: The Pacific Ocean is cold. Don’t fall for the California beach-scene movie and TV portrayals. There’s a reason the surfers wear wet suits.

I’m not much of a zoo person, but the San Diego Zoo is world-famous for good reason. It’s huge, lush, and remains one of the city’s top attractions. The only thing that can outshine it, wild-animal-wise, is the even huger and more “naturalized” San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which isn’t in San Diego at all but in Escondido, northeast of the city. The Safari Park is home to many rare species, and conservation efforts are a big part of the park’s role. Tour the park via monorail “safari” and you’ll see animals in natural settings, the enclosures barely noticeable. This is a day trip and highly worth the time.
Hotel del Coronado/photo courtesy of the Hotel del Coronado

If you’re a classic-movie buff or a fan of gorgeous historic buildings, don’t miss the Hotel del Coronado, on Coronado Island. The iconic white structure with its red roof and turrets, now a national historic landmark, was immortalized in the comedy Some Like It Hot, with Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, and Tony Curtis. The “Hotel Del” is swanky, picturesque, and filled with photos from the movie and its filming. Lots of VIPs have stayed here. Go at sunset and have a drink while you enjoy the ambiance and the ocean views.

Old Town San Diego, "birthplace of California," is San Diego’s historic district. Visit and learn about Mexican-American culture and early settlers and architecture. Today it’s touristy, with lots of shops and restaurants—many Mexican, of course. Some of the eateries are more authentic than others. If you want a taste of the real thing, seek out a Rubio's. Now a chain, Rubio’s is the “home of the fish taco,” an Ensenada, Mexico, specialty discovered by a surfer and imported to the US. Authentic fish tacos are battered white fish, served on a corn tortilla with shredded cabbage, a squeeze of fresh lime, a mild white sauce, and salsa and/or guacamole to taste. Delicious!

And the horses? There are plenty of them. Some of the most sumptuous farms (and the priciest real estate) are located in Rancho Santa Fe, which is east of Del Mar (go east on Via de la Valle and you’ll run smack into it). Fairbanks Ranch, an ├╝ber-tony enclave in Rancho Santa Fe, was once the ranch of movie stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. The site of the 1984 Olympic eventing cross-country course, it’s now a community of staggeringly huge homes and equestrian facilities that royalty would be proud to own.

This is just a sampling of what San Diego has to offer. Bienvenidos!

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Social SoCal Convention

United States Dressage Federation staffers, group-member organization (GMO) delegates, and all manner of dressage enthusiasts and officials are preparing to descend on San Diego for the 2011 Adequan/USDF National Convention and Symposium.

In this blog, we'll be bringing you convention news, photos, educational highlights, fun happenings, and snippets from this beautiful SoCal city.

USDF Connection editor Jennifer Bryant will also be tweeting from the convention (@JenniferOBryant). If you'll be in San Diego or just following the action, tweet your own reports and questions so we can make this convention a truly interactive gathering. Use Twitter hashtag #USDFconv. This blog's home page features a real-time #USDFconv Twitter feed.

Meanwhile, while we wait for the events to get under way this Wednesday, click the video link above for a preview of the 2011 Adequan/USDF National Symposium, presented by United States Equestrian Federation national dressage coaches Anne Gribbons, Scott Hassler, Debbie McDonald, and Scott Hassler.

See you soon!