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.
Poplar Place Farm, located on 188 acres in Hamilton, Georgia, is owned by Launa DesPortes and home to Geven Eventing. Poplar Place hosts several events a year, in addition to dressage competitions, schooling shows, and clinics, and it’s where Jackson got his start in eventing. “I get amazing support from Werner Geven and Launa DesPortes, as well as the barn family!”
Jackson rode in his first USEA recognized event in 2007 at Poplar Place Farm and since then has ridden through the Training level. He and his current horse, Ralph Lauren, compete at the Beginner Novice level. In 2019, he and Ralph Lauren were on the winning Beginner Novice Adult Team Championship team, The Go Getters, at the 2019 USEA American Eventing Championships.
For Jackson, volunteering started out as a way to give back to the sport. “I also used volunteering to learn more about riding and the sport of eventing,” he shared. “You really can learn a lot by watching at every level.”
Of all the volunteer positions he’s held at events over the years, Jackson said he has two favorites – dressage scribing and cross-country jump judging. About scribing, he said, “You can learn so much by sitting in the box with the judge and getting that first-hand perspective from them.” And he shared that he loves cross-country jump judging “not only for the thrill of watching these amazing horses and riders navigate the course, but [I] also see it as another opportunity to learn how to ride certain lines and how to get out of some sticky situations.”
Kaitlin Macias, the Volunteer Coordinator for the Poplar Place Farm Horse Trials, nominated Jackson as USEA Volunteer of the Month for his contribution as a volunteer at Poplar Place. “He volunteers at every show he's not competing in, and even then he's happy to jump in as time allows,” she praised. “He scribes, does cross-country start and finish, and we've trained him to score in the office when our usual person was sick. He's super dependable and the right combination of easygoing and meticulous. His only special request is he get out in time to go ride his own horse in the afternoon. We'd be lost without him as a volunteer at Poplar Place Farm.”
One of the things Jackson said he likes most about volunteering as a part of the eventing community is having the chance to meet and get to know all of the competitors and their horses. “[The eventing community] really is a family and everyone pitches in to help each other out and encourage each other on.”
What’s Jackson’s number-one recommendation? “That more people do it,” he said. “It is such an amazing learning opportunity and the community goes out of its way to show their appreciation. Anyone can do it and it is so rewarding!”
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.
Have you ever wondered why your horse isn’t performing at their best? Get ready to learn about the many facets that can contribute to lameness and poor performance in sport horses from equine orthopedics expert, Dr. Sue Dyson! The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce that Dr. Dyson will be the keynote speaker at the 2022 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention in Savannah, GA this December 7-11.
Rosie Smith’s rose gold accented helmet matched her perfectly tidy bun of red hair as she took the third spot in the USEA Training Rider Championship at the 2022 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nurena Feeds. Every little detail came together while aboard her trusted partner of nine years: the 20-year-old Connemara Irish Draught named Seamus (by Corrcullen, RID). But Smith’s first jump, back when she was only 15 years old, wasn’t with an English saddle.
Lisa Pragg is a busy woman, but between her normal day job and competing her own 19-year-old Thoroughbred Impeccable she still prioritizes time to volunteer - both at horse trials and as a volunteer firefighter. Pragg understands the importance that volunteers play in the eventing community and makes sure to give whatever time she can back as a fair gesture.
Attention USEA members! Registration for the 2022 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention is now open! The convention will be held in person on December 7-11, 2022 at the Hyatt Regency Savannah Hotel in Savannah, Georgia.