Dawn Anderson grew up in the Western world of horses, participating in rodeos, barrel racing, and going trail riding during her childhood and teenage years. She took a break from riding after high school, and it wasn’t until nearly 15 years later when she and her husband moved to Florida with their children that Anderson would get back into horses.
“My oldest daughter was about 8 years old when we got our first horse,” Anderson explained. “A friend of mine was getting into English riding and she grew up totally Western too, and she said, ‘I found this thing called Pony Club – let’s go check it out,’ and we checked it out and thought it looked fun! That was that, and now I’m the treasurer of the Sunshine Region Pony Club, and I’m also the DC of South Lake Pony Club.”
Through her involvement in Pony Club, Anderson and her daughters learned about the sport of three-day eventing. Anderson’s oldest is now attending nursing school and doesn’t have much time for riding at the moment, but her youngest daughter, who is now 15, is planning to pursue a career in riding. “She was 13 when she moved out of the house and she’s in Reddick, Florida now with Megan Fischer-Graham and Dean Graham as their working student. That’s what she wants to do – she wants to train horses, and that’s what they do. She’s already gone Training level and she’s looking for a new horse now.”
Anderson’s daughter’s involvement in the sport is what first prompted her to get involved as a volunteer. “A friend of mine was doing the jump judging at Florida Horse Park, which I found to be exciting,” she said. “I started volunteering about 10 years ago and then went into different volunteer positions from that. All the venues in our Area are really lovely about giving schooling passes for volunteering and mama needs a little extra help to do all this! So, I volunteer to get the schooling passes for my daughter to use. I volunteer all the time and even have a small paid position at the Florida Horse Park to run the cross-country.”
With easy access to the Florida Horse Park, Rocking Horse, Three Lakes Horse Trials, and Majestic Oaks, there are no shortage of volunteer opportunities for Anderson. “The leadership at Florida Horse Park, Rocking Horse, Majestic Oaks, and Three Lakes are wonderful,” she said. “They are so generous to their volunteers which makes the hot, humid days volunteering all worth it. We couldn’t be in a better spot for this.”
Of all the volunteer positions that Anderson has filled – and she’s filled just about all the jobs on the list – her favorite role to play is providing lunches to the cross-country jump judges. “I love interacting with the people that are doing the jump judging and getting to know people a little bit better. Usually you’re running all over and you don’t really get to know anybody, so it’s nice to do the lunches because you get the chance to get to know them. I have my regulars who volunteer all the time and I see them at every show. You get to know people and you make friendships. It feels like a family.”
“The eventing community is enjoyable and treats each other with respect,” Anderson concluded. “I appreciate that they are helpful towards one another and make the shows a pleasure to volunteer at. t’s nice when they tell the volunteers ‘thank you’ for helping!”
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.