Jeffrey Lesitsky was always intrigued by horses, but growing up Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he didn’t have much access to them. “My only experience was what I saw on television,” he said. “I saw pictures of Secretariat when he won the Triple Crown, but I was only 10 years old and I didn't really understand what was going on. Secretariat was a beautiful horse and I wanted to learn more about them – later I learned Secretariat and I have the same birthday, but I'm seven years his senior!”
For 39 years, the Loudoun Hunt Pony Club (LHPC) has held the Loudoun Hunt Pony Club Horse Trials at Morven Park in Leesburg, Virginia. Margaret Good, the District Commissioner (DC) of the Loudoun Hunt Pony Club, has helped organize the horse trials since day one.
Bub and Janet Dillon used to race sailboats, and when their daughter, Olivia, was old enough to tag along, she would accompany her parents on sailboat races. For Olivia’s birthday one year, Bub and Janet rented out the “Pony Pavilion” where Olivia met an old pony named Lightning.
As 2020 has forced competitors to reroute or adjust their competition calendar, volunteers have also experienced several changes of their own. While most volunteers love to volunteer at various events, many have altered their plans to stick within local limits, like volunteer Angie Leihy, or to stick with one venue, like volunteer Leah Fleming.
Dawn Anderson grew up in the Western world of horses, participating in rodeos, barrel racing, and going trail riding during her childhood and teenage years. She took a break from riding after high school, and it wasn’t until nearly 15 years later when she and her husband moved to Florida with their children that Anderson would get back into horses.
Get a front row seat at the 2020 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds (AEC) by volunteering! Volunteers are needed on Monday, August 24 through Sunday, August 30 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. There will be no spectators allowed this year, but volunteering is a wonderful alternative that will still allow you to experience the event.
Seventeen-year-old Casper Cole grew up with horses. From the time she was just a little girl, she would sit on her mother’s horse and be led around on the lead line. From there she graduated to taking lessons at a local barn where she learned to ride and began to compete in small 4-H shows. All the while, Cole was watching videos of cross-country on YouTube and dreaming about competing in eventing.
Since the USEA lifted the COVID-19 suspension on June 1, 2020, there have been 11 recognized events that have taken place across the country. Events such as Plantation Field, Waredaca, and Full Gallop Farm have been the pioneers for adapting to the new normal of eventing. Setting the standard high, these events have diligently followed the USEF COVID-19 Action Plan and have shown everyone how an event can run safely and smoothly. The success of these events is due largely in part to having strong volunteers.
Plantation Field Horse Trials was one of the first events back out of the gate when the competition suspension was lifted at the beginning of the month, and that meant they were the guinea pigs for seeing what the new USEF COVID-19 Action Plan looked like in practice.
“Everyone who is a student of mine has to go volunteer,” said veteran five-star rider Jane Sleeper. Sleeper, who has made over 10 trips to the Kentucky Three-Day Event and completed Burghley in 2007, is particularly proud of her working student program at Jane Sleeper Eventing.
Sue Funkey of Angels Camp, California, is the epitome of what it means to be a volunteer. She is dedicated, constantly gives back to the sport, and shows up time and time again no matter the conditions to help. We are proud and honored to feature her as this month’s Volunteer of the Month as we highlight all the many ways she contributes to the sport.