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.
As they hiked through the Galway Irish countryside, Shelley Bridges and John Whelpley soon found themselves amid a herd of curious Irish Draught mares grazing calmly around them. Bridges, an endurance rider extraordinaire with a well-known, educated eye for all things horse, noticed one of the mares in particular and said, “What about that one?” and our unlikely story began.
With the holiday spirit in full swing and the New Year just around the corner, it’s time to get ready for the 2024 eventing season. From paperwork to packing, there’s quite a bit to do before you’re ready to get out there and enjoy the season with your horse. Check out these tips from the team at STRIDER, and get your 2024 season kicked off in the most organized way possible.
The U.S. Equestrian Federation is pleased to announce the Eventing Pathway Program Lists for 2024, including the Elite, Pre-Elite, Development, and Emerging Programs. In addition to these Eventing Pathway Program updates, several opportunities will be available in 2024 for both Program and non-Program athletes.
The United States Eventing Associations’ (USEA) Eventing Coaches Program (ECP) is pleased to announce the dates and location of the upcoming 2024 ECP Symposium. The annual ECP Symposium, which is held in the southeast to accommodate the migration of eventers for the winter season, will be hosted at the Florida Horse Park in Ocala, Florida, on Jan. 30 – Feb. 1, 2024. This three-day immersive educational experience is recommended for anyone who is interested in learning more about eventing coaching, including current coaches, riders, parents, owners or avid supporters. Click here to download the registration form today!