It always helps to see a warm and friendly face when heading to warm up for that all-important test or jump round. In this new series, the United States Evening Association (USEA) is partnering with Athletux, to feature those around us who help make these events happen, the volunteers. Without them horse shows could not succeed and these volunteers go above and beyond to make sure every rider feels comfortable and confident. Do you know a volunteer who should be nominated as Volunteer of the Month? We are looking for our December feature. Email your tips to [email protected]
The Volunteer of the Month for November is Don Trotter, a ring steward who goes out of his way to make sure every rider feels relaxed and positive in a sometimes chaotic warm up.
Originally, Don worked for the United Nations however after retirement his wife, Pamela Duffy, introduced him to performance horses. Pam has a background in horses and was a National Champion Show Jumper from Mexico. Don explains, “I had no previous experience with horses other than admiring their nobility, but now that I have been around them for a while, boy did they get under my skin and now they’ve even made their way into my spinal fluid.”
Together, Don and Pam own Sunsprite Warmbloods, where they breed horses in six breed registries. Many of their horses grow up to compete at the top levels of the sport and currently there are 15 Sunsprite homebreds registered with the USEA. Whether they are competing at the lower levels with a young rider or blossoming at the top levels with a professional, each horse was raised with the best care thanks to Don and his wife. They enjoy watching their "kids" and the Sunsprite team of riders and get such an exciting feeling that there are times when they can hardly contain themselves. Don takes pride in his work, he obtained his double PhD in Botany and Geology and mainly handles the feed and soil aspects at Sunsprite. He is extremely qualified and will let no detail go by the wayside, a trait he carries over into his volunteering.
Photo by Sherry Stewart.
On top of helping riders and breeding horses Don can always be found by the warm up. No, not just watching his horses go, but acting as ring steward. “As a horse show husband, I frequently found myself bored beyond belief at shows. I had nothing to do and often found myself hanging out at our rider's barns,” he said. Then finally in 2009 Don was offered a job he couldn’t refuse: ring steward. He enjoyed volunteering so much that he reached out to event organizer and friend, Robert Kellerhouse, asking if he could try out a few other volunteer positions. Kellerhouse let Don experiment with different jobs from cross country control to jump judge but he always found his way back to ring steward, his favorite.
Since Don and his wife follow their horses and their riders to various shows in Area VI and VII, it was only a matter of time before he began to volunteer more at each event he attended. Now he travels up and down the west coast to volunteer and has stewarded at almost every venue in Area VI. He’s even had the privilege of stewarding the American Eventing Championships and the Event at Rebecca Farm. He brings a comfortable presence and joy to his job and everyone from professionals to amateurs enjoy seeing Don when they come to check in or exit the arena.
Don says, “One of the coolest things is when riders come back after an amazing ride and tell me all about how great their horse was out on course. I can just see and feel their joy. It's incredible.”
Moreover, Don says his satisfaction with the job is simple, “If my presence in warm-up makes a rider more relaxed or an organizer more confident the show will run on time, then I'm doing my job to contribute to the sport of Eventing. That's rewarding to me.” His presence is calming and nice to find in a sometimes crowded and hectic warm up. Many riders are notoriously tense before competition and you can bet Don will be there with a subtle joke to make them laugh or a few kind words to relieve any nerves. Either way, riders always have nothing but positive things to say about Don and some say they may be lost without him in warm up.
When asked what his favorite part of Eventing is Don says, “that’s easy, it’s the people.” Both Don and his wife have made so many lasting friendships and in his eyes, “Eventers are the best horse people.”
Photo by Sherry Stewart.
Ring Stewarding has blossomed into a true passion for Don and he has met, in his words, “many truly magnificent people in warm-up.” These are people who've since invited Pam and Don to their weddings, shared their life experiences with and have become dear friends. This truly shows how much of an impact Don has made not only on each and every warm up ring but also the sport and community. It is not often that you find such a dedicated volunteer who will continuously go out of their way to make riders feel comfortable. Expect to continue to see Don in warm up making sure things run smoothly and relieving any stress and when you do, give him a huge thank you because warm up would not be the same without him.
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.
The 2020 USEA Future Event Horse (FEH) East Coast Championships kicked off today at Loch Moy Farm in Adamstown, Maryland following the successful completion of the FEH Central Championships at Haras Hacienda in Magnolia, Texas this past Thursday. Twenty-three horses were presented today to Championship judges Robin Walker and Susan Graham White – four in the FEH East Coast 4-year-old Championship and 18 in the FEH East Coast 3-year-old Championship.
After a rainy night, the footing for the FEI cross-country drained nicely and held up well throughout the morning. Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp held on to her overnight lead aboard Fernhill By Night and added 4.8 time faults to her double clear show jumping round to take home the win in the CCI4*-S. Not one rider was able to make it through the finish flags within the time allowed, but the top 28 had no jumping penalties.
The CCI3*-S and CCI4*-S divisions were able to complete their show jumping before the torrential rain interrupted the competition for the CCI2*-S division.
The 2020 United States Eventing Association (USEA) Future Event Horse (FEH) Central Championships took place yesterday, September 24 at Haras Hacienda in Magnolia, Texas. With four new champions crowned, this marked one of the first USEA Championships to be held in 2020. Jayne Lloyd, the organizer of the Championships shared, “Everyone had a nice day with their youngsters. The quality of horses is getting better and better. Haras [Hacienda] is a lovely facility to put this on – great stabling, great footing, all indoor because we’ve had some bad weather the past few days. But overall, I think it all went really well.”