It always helps to see a warm and friendly face when heading to warm up for that all-important test or jump round. In this series, the United States Evening Association (USEA) is partnering with Athletux to feature those around us who help make these events happen, the volunteers. Without them horse shows and programs could not succeed, and these volunteers go above and beyond to make sure every rider feels comfortable and confident. Do you know a volunteer who should be nominated as Volunteer of the Month? We are looking for our next feature. Email your tips to [email protected].
Vicki Reynolds was on a horse at a young age. At 10 years old, she was given a Shetland pony and the rest, they say, is history. From there, she did a little bit of everything, from hunter/jumpers to galloping racehorses, breaking babies, and eventing. She eventually hung up her riding boots to dabble in motocross, bicycle racing, and rowing, which took her all over the United States and Europe. Incidentally, it was rowing which lead her back to horses. After she underwent a double knee replacement, she could no longer participate in rowing. Reynolds now looks at this as a blessing in disguise because since then she has been back on horses. Eventually she ended up in Southern Pines, North Carolina where she became a familiar face as both a competitor and a volunteer at the Carolina Horse Park in Raeford, North Carolina. The venue has held many prestigious events over the years, including the inaugural USEA American Eventing Championship and the impressive Carolina International Horse Trials, all of which Reynolds has been a part of.
Brant Gamma Photo.
Just last weekend, Reynolds donned her Stable Manager hat for the fifth time at the Carolina International Horse Trials, held at the Carolina Horse Park. For those keeping track, the event has only been running for that many years, making Reynolds the only person to have held the job. The event was massive, with over 500 entries and a majority of those from out of town, and it was up to Reynolds to be sure the stabling area stayed organized and all the competitors knew where they needed to go. With eight permanent barns and an additional 17 temporary barns this was no easy task, but Reynolds credits her years of experience in the position with aiding her in creating a smooth and effective system.
Not only was she active in the stabling area, but Reynolds also could have been seen every day on the cross-country course as she is an active and dedicated jump judge as well. Reynolds explained, “I think I could leave my post in the stabling area for a few hours to another one of my favorite jobs, jump judge.” At most events you will find her at the water, and that is exactly where she was last weekend. Reynolds manned Blackbeard’s Cove for the CIC1*, 2*, and 3* divisions and she really enjoyed spending time out on course and watching the different competitors. Just add jump judging to the long list of roles Reynolds has filled. In fact, at one schooling show she acted as a volunteer technical delegate and, “gave the safety speech at the cross-country briefing, which was fun as I had heard it so many times I was just repeating it!” Reynolds quickly added, “I always tell the volunteer coordinator to use-me-and-abuse-me; I love doing any job they need help with.”
When asked why she loves the sport and why she volunteers, Reynolds quickly pointed out that, “I volunteer because if eventing does not have volunteers, there will be no eventing! Volunteering is fun and very necessary, so it is an upside when I sometimes haven’t been able to compete much over the past few years.” She fondly remembers different phases becoming her favorite over time when she was competing because, “Eventing is so challenging with the three disciplines that each one becomes the favorite at different times as you succeed with issues that you overcome.” Reynolds is the epitome of what an eventing competitor can be and her passion for the sport shines through when you listen to her detail her time in the sport. Reynolds does it because she can, and while sometimes she feels “people like to say, 'let someone else do that.'” Reynolds enjoys being that someone else and will stop at nothing to help out in any way that she can.
Brant Gamma Photo.
Dedicated doesn’t even begin to describe Reynolds. During events at the Carolina Horse Park, she is always the first to arrive and the last to leave. At the Carolina International Horse Trials, she was there from the first day a horse arrived on grounds, a whopping five days before the competition even started, to the day the last horse shipped out, a few days after the event. She is always there with a smile on her face and a friendly attitude, making all the competitors feel right at home no matter how far away from home they actually are. Between ensuring competitors are safe on cross-country and making sure their horses are safe in the barns, these events would not be the same without Reynolds on staff. She is one of the familiar faces at the Horse Park and riders have had the pleasure of getting to know over the years. One rider was quick to point out, “they would be lost without her in the stabling area,” and added, “Vicki does whatever she can to ensure we have a good experience and I cannot thank her enough.”
At every event she attends, Reynolds’ incredible infectious personality and drive to help the sport spreads throughout the venue and beyond. She is always thinking of ways to think outside the box to help the events at the Carolina Horse Park succeed, whether it is a 50-horse schooling show or an event as prestigious as Carolina International. She regularly clocks more time volunteering in a year than some do in their lifetime and those competitors and staff at the Carolina Horse Park and beyond could not be more grateful. They use words such as “passionate,” “strong-willed,” and “dedicated” to describe her and are quick to credit her with helping make the Horse Park what it is today. So this year, if you happen to see Reynolds behind the scenes, be sure to give her a big thank you because these events could not function without her.
Do you know someone who should be recognized as Volunteer of the Month? We are looking for our next feature. Email your tips to [email protected].