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].
This past weekend, tens of thousands of spectators and 46 competitors converged on the Kentucky Horse Park for the most prestigious event on the United States eventing calendar. This event, known as the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, is often the pinnacle of a rider’s career and takes over 2,000 volunteers to make happen. These volunteers come back year after year, no matter the conditions, and are always there to greet both riders and spectators with smiling faces as they strive to make the year’s event the best it can be. Often, these volunteers can be found working behind the scenes, and even though they may not receive completion ribbons and miss the majority of the competition, the event wouldn't be possible without their help. With that said, it is our pleasure to honor three different wonderful volunteers who have selflessly donated their free time to make this special North America four-star possible.
Anonymous Outrider and her horse, Peggy Sue
It is the mounted steward’s goal to help alert spectators and jump judges alike when horses are riding through to enforce the safety of those around by keeping them aware of their surroundings with the ongoing action. They also step in if necessary to aide in escorting horses back to the vet box if they have an early end to their day. In addition, the elevation of their line-of-sight is a helpful advantageous feature in keeping everyone safe.
This is the sixth year of volunteering for this outrider and her special mount, Peggy Sue. This outrider’s goal had always been to volunteer at the Kentucky Three-Day and she fondly remembers, “watching all of the horses and riders gallop across the cross-country course and being in awe of them.” While she thought she may not ever ride through the ropes herself, she saw the outriders and thought it may be a way she could give back to the sport herself. The thought of volunteering excited her and after placing her name on the list, she received the all-important phone call that informed her she had been selected.
While some things have changed over the past six years, including the addition of some drones, the outrider explained that, “nothing really seems to bother Peggy Sue,” and she noted that some of her favorite moments are the moments in the days leading up to the event, getting her horse ready with her fellow outriders and preparing for the big day. While giving Peggy Sue a pat on the neck, she quickly adds she hopes to come back for many years to come!
Jean Ogden, Sue Colliver, and Karen Spoor
From left to right: Jean Ogden, Sue Colliver, and Karen Spoor. Mikaela Kantorowski Photo.
The jump judges at Kentucky play a critical role during cross-country day. They not only have to document every rider that comes through their flags, but they also have to radio in to control and document the time in addition to other important details about each rider's trip through their flags. Some may be surprised to learn that the sheets the jump judges use to document information are actually the same sheets used from the Beginner Novice level on up, with the same columns and check boxes that you would find at the lower levels. Besides the height of the jumps, not much changes, although their job may become that much more important.
This group of volunteers has been judging together for many years and while they only meet once a year, they all became fast friends and fondly remember their time judging together. In fact, the chief jump judge of the group, Colliver, remembers jump judging at the original Eventing World Championships when it was held at the Kentucky Horse Park in 1978! She has volunteered ever since then and we were able to take a moment to speak with her about her experiences last weekend, in between horses galloping through the flags of course.
“I love to give back to the sport because it would not exist without the volunteers and I believe the older generation is really appreciative of that,” explained Colliver. “It makes it really enjoyable when you have someone like Boyd Martin come along and say thank you for volunteering and the excitement of it is really special for me. I look forward to coming back for another 40 years.” While Colliver was the chief jump judge, her fellow jump judges had nothing but praise for her dedication and passion for volunteering and giving back to the community. Kentucky weekend is what these ladies look forward to every spring, simply because they get to give back, and their enthusiasm for volunteering is something everyone should strive to obtain.
Mikaela Kantorowski Photo.
Come Sunday, one of the most special moments takes place not in the ring, but in the holding area following the rounds and conclusion of the competition. This is the location where the ribbons are pinned on the horses and the award coolers are handed out and draped on the winners. Not only can you witness the ceremonious acknowledgement of the riders and their horses, but you also experience the raw emotions at the conclusion of a four-star; something rare and real. Little do most know, those who hand out these prized possessions out are volunteers! Last Sunday, we had the privilege of talking to Julia Quattrocchi, who has been participating in this very moment since the event began. In fact, her parents were founders of the event! There is a photo of Quattrocchi as a 5-year-old holding a perpetual bowl during the awards ceremony all those years ago. Luckily, we had some time to catch up with Quattrocchi and find out more about why she loves volunteering and how special this is to her.
“I keep coming back because of the heritage and because it has grown exponentially since my parents were on the ground floor of it,” explained Quattrocchi. “It is really neat to see how things have transpired and transformed and how the sport has transformed as well, from the long format to the short format. It truly is one of the best weekends all year, but we said that long before they quoted it. It is part of Kentucky and what can I say, it is the best event in the country and it means so much to me to be here,” she added.
All three of these volunteers, while filling different roles, have one thing in common: they are the epitome of an eventing volunteer. Their passion and dedication for the sport shines through when you speak with them, but keep in mind they are just three of the 2,000 faces that help make the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event possible. However, volunteering doesn’t stop just there. They each also explained how important it is to volunteer at other events as well, whether it be a local schooling show or a USEA recognized event. Each and every volunteer is special and we want to salute each and every one of you. We also want to thank these three special volunteers for taking the time out of their busy schedules to speak with us and share what makes their jobs so special. Thank you so much for helping make this year’s event such a success, it would not have been possible without you.
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].