In 1984, the U.S. Eventing team won the gold medal at the Los Angeles Olympic Games, and from that moment on Diane Bird and her husband Art Bird were hooked. Two years later they watched top riders compete at Chesterland Horse Trials and shortly after that, their first volunteer opportunity opened at a local show in New Jersey in 1988. They have been volunteering ever since.
Horses have always been in Scarlett Schall’s blood. Her mom and dad ran a world-renowned Quarter Horse breeding program in southern Maryland and Schall was on a horse before she could walk. Growing up, she was immersed in all disciplines as her parents bred the horses that she and her siblings would ride.
December’s Volunteer of the Month, Leah Fleming, did not grow up around horses. Nor did she ride or even know what the sport of eventing was prior to her 12-year-old niece, Ashlee, coming to live with her. It was when Ashlee’s friend’s younger sister began riding at a local barn that her mom thought Ashlee might like to come out one day to see what it was like.
As 2019 comes to an end, it’s important to keep in mind the ones that made this competition year possible – the eventing volunteers. Since 2015, the USEA has recognized the tireless efforts of volunteers through the USEA Volunteer Incentive Program (VIP).
It was only recently that John Bandrofchak became involved in the eventing community - seven years, in fact. It all began when he decided he wanted to begin working with animals. After finding his way to a local equine therapy farm, his passion for horses and volunteering grew.
Angie Leihy rode horses a bit as a child in Ohio and moved to Maryland in 1986, but it wasn’t until after 2003 that her passion for horses really grew. She took riding lessons at Willowbend Farm (WB) in Upper Marlboro as her young daughter rode there for years on their equitation team in the NCEL.
“They are the Best. Volunteers. Ever,” said Bonnie Kibbie, volunteer coordinator for Plantation Field International, the event that’s often referred to as the "Best. Event. Ever." Plantation Field International is on September 18-22 in Unionville, Pennsylvania and this year, the event has a total of 218 competitors but will see even more volunteers.
From the moment Paige Ervin’s parents took her for a pony ride at Wheaton Park Stables when she was five, horses were all that she could think about. For Ervin, she was hooked right then and there. After she was enrolled in lessons at the Potomac Horse Center, her passion for horses was solidified.
During the 2018 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention, Volunteer Committee Chair Bonnie Kibbie presented to the group assembled at the Volunteer Open Forum. She began by providing a report on the health of the Volunteer Incentive Program, including several statistics about usage by both events and volunteers.
For Todd Killalea, horses were not always a way of life. Growing up in San Diego, he spent most of his time on the water, fishing, surfing, and participating in any other water sport he could find. It wasn’t until later when his oldest daughter, Delaney, took a liking to horses at the age of three that he was introduced to the horse world.
Summer is a season full of sunshine, sunscreen, and sweat. Amidst the summer heat, eventing volunteers come together to work hard, have fun, and give back to the sport of three-day eventing. In a sport that’s almost always fully outdoors, volunteers, competitors, and event officials all work outside - rain or shine.