Aimée Arnold has wanted to ride horses for as long as she can remember. “At 4 years old I asked my mother for a pony for my fifth birthday,” Arnold recalled. “She responded that we could not afford it, to which I asked, ‘Can we trade you in for a pony for a day? I know anyone would appreciate having you for a helper.’ The look on my Mother’s face was priceless!”
While Arnold always wanted to ride, the opportunity didn’t present itself until she was in her 40s. “I married into a family that had a horse and a pre-teen that rode,” she explained. “Over the next several years I learned about horses and became a gymkhana stepmom. I rode western until my stepdaughter left home, and then decided I wanted to event.”
So, Arnold went horse shopping and found herself with an off-the-track Thoroughbred. She rode in her very first horse trials in 1996 and was “totally hooked.”
“As is often the way, I had a mount in an off-and-on-again fashion and began volunteering at horse trials to participate in any way I could,” Arnold continued. “I have been a dressage scribe, dressage ring steward, show jump ring steward, and cross-country jump judge. Without being ready to ride in another horse trials, cross-country jump judging has kept the excitement of the sport fully alive for me – there is nothing like the horses thundering past and flying over those jumps except riding the course yourself!”
Arnold lives in southeast Arizona and her closest venue for many years was Grass Ridge Farms, located an hour away in Sonoita, so she did most of her volunteering there. “After Grass Ridge closed in 2014, the eventers in my area of Southern Arizona committed to finding another venue,” she explained. “Eventually, the newly formed board of the Southern Arizona Eventing Association (SAzEA) settled on building a cross-country course at Pima County Fair Grounds in Tucson, Arizona, a two-hour drive from my house (four hours round trip).”
“Because I work full-time and ride every day, I found that volunteering at SAzEA Events to be too time-consuming due to the commute time. I subsequently volunteered to build and maintain our website, SouthernArizonaEventing.org. Without the commute time, I can volunteer more hours and still contribute to the sport I love in a meaningful way.”
Elizabeth Patten, Secretary of the Southern Arizona Eventing Association, nominated Arnold as the USEA Volunteer of the Month. Arnold was also the SAzEA Volunteer of the Year in 2019 and is ranked second on the Area X Volunteer Leaderboard on eventingvolunteers.com.
“Since we are a totally volunteer community, every little bit helps,” Arnold concluded. “It’s really quite amazing when you consider what we have and are able to accomplish as a group of volunteers.”
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.
On Wednesday, March 10, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. Central time, join Eric Dierks for a live stream interview with David O'Connor. David was an alternate for the 1988 Summer Olympics, and riding Wilton Fair, was part of the U.S. team at the 1990 World Equestrian Games, where he placed 35th individually and the team finished fourth.
Billy Jackson was introduced to horses at a young age through his local 4-H program. “One of my mom's close friends was a large animal vet and she really encouraged me to stay with it,” Jackson said. As an adult, he is a Marketing Project Manager, and when he’s not at work, he’s a lower level eventer based at Poplar Place Farm.
Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.
It is with great disappointment and regret, which we know will be shared by many, that we announce the cancellation of the 2021 Badminton Horse Trials which was due to be held “behind closed doors” between May 5 and May 9. This cancellation also includes the BE90 and BE100 Championships (May 4 and 5).