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.
For over 31 years, Art and Diane Bird have devoted their lives to volunteering, and this past year, Diane recorded 307 hours and 31 minutes on eventingvolunteers.com to earn the 2019 USEA Volunteer of the Year.
A former eighth-grade science teacher, Diane and her husband have slowly migrated south since their retirement. Originally from Abescon, New Jersey, the couple moved to Lexington, Virginia in 1999 where they were members of the organizing committee with Brian and Penny Ross for Virginia Horse Trials. In September 2017, they permanently moved to Aiken, South Carolina, giving them easy access to volunteering opportunities up and down the East Coast. “We do as many recognized and unrecognized shows as we can. So, I really don’t think I can pick a favorite,” said Diane.
Although unable to choose a favorite event, she does have a couple of favorite volunteer roles. “I love to dressage scribe as I always learn something. [But,] I like starting cross-country best, as you get to talk to everyone.”
A fan of margaritas, corgi dogs, and gardening, Diane explains what she likes to do when she’s not scribing in dressage or starting cross-country. “[I like to] ride my Arabian mare, Flame, while Art rides his paint mare, Peylone. [We also enjoy] spending time with our two retired geldings, Skip and Orie. Other than our horses, we have two corgis, George and Millie, who are the love of our lives!” Her list of interests continued with, “transporting rescue dogs from high kill shelters to foster homes, and helping take care of our flower gardens at home.”
The owner and founder of Equiglas, Diane also runs a small business. “I turn client photos of their horses or dogs into stained glass panels or sun catchers.”
With four horses, two dogs, a small business, and a new national title - there’s not much Diane Bird can’t do. Between her and Art, they’ve clocked in over 1,177 hours on eventingvolunteers.com since December 1, 2016. She’s the second-highest ranked volunteer on the volunteer all-time leaderboard with 639 hours and 33 minutes, and Art is fourth highest with 538 hours and 59 minutes.
“Worry more about enjoying the race than winning it,” is Diane’s life motto and her race of volunteering was the best in the nation in 2019.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of our sport, the unsung heroes, and the people who make it possible to keep the sport alive. In efforts to recognize the dedication, commitment, and hard work that volunteers put into eventing, USEA formed the Volunteer Incentive Program (VIP) in 2015. In 2017, an online management portal was designed for volunteers, organizers, and volunteer coordinators at EventingVolunteers.com (available as an app for iOS and Android).
Volunteer incentives include national and area recognition, year-end awards with ribbons, cash prizes, and trophies, a top ten USEA Volunteer leaderboard, and a Volunteer of the Year award which is given to the volunteer who tops the leaderboard by accumulating the most volunteer hours over the USEA competition year. Click here to learn more about the USEA Volunteer Incentive Program.
The USEA would like to thank Sunsprite Warmbloods for sponsoring the Volunteer Incentive Program.
The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce the addition of the Modified Rider division beginning at the 2023 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC), presented by Nutrena Feeds. The USEA AEC will move back to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky August 29–September 3, 2023.
Are you interested in competing in the sport of eventing but aren’t quite sure how to get started? Do you have a horse that is looking for a new career? Consider participating in a USEA New Event Horse (NEH) competition in 2023! The USEA NEH Program was created to be an introduction to the sport of eventing for both horse and rider, and the 2023 NEH Calendar is now available here.
Will Coleman had a huge 2022 with his string of horses, including a team silver medal at the FEI World Eventing Championship in Italy on Off The Record and top four-star placings with Chin Tonic HS, but it was Dondante whose consistency paid off to earn the Standlee Premium Western Forage USEA Horse of the Year title.
Julie Murray has loved horses since she could breathe, so when her daughters showed an interest in Pony Club and then eventing, she was thrilled to go along for the ride.
Murray started volunteering at the Fallbrook Pony Club near her home in Fallbrook, California, serving as an intermediate district commissioner.