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.
Ninety percent of training a horse is getting the horse to understand exactly what you want them to do. In general, horses are generous and willing creatures who want to please us; very seldom do they behave badly on purpose. Horses don’t come out and say, ‘Let’s make Mom’s (or Dad’s) life miserable today by going as poorly as possible - most prefer to do the right thing, as long as they know what that is.
Regardless of the level at which a horse is competing, its veterinary team is at the forefront of most decisions regarding its career and well-being. Liz Arbittier, VMD, CVA, has been working with equine athletes for over two decades. Graduating from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) in 2001, she worked in private practice with a focus on sports medicine and pre-purchase exams until joining Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center Field Service team in 2013. Situated in the heart of Area II’s eventing scene, the team provides ambulatory services to the surrounding area, which is home to multiple Olympians.
US Equestrian (USEF) announces the appointment of David O’Connor to the newly created position of Chief of Sport beginning October 3, 2022.
Aspen Farms in Yelm, Washington was host to this year’s USEA Area VII Championships on September 16-18 and put on a spectacular show where 10 horse and rider pairs celebrated victory by being awarded the title of Area VII Champion in their respective divisions. Hear about each pair’s weekend below.