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 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 and programs 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 next feature. Email your tips to [email protected].
When it comes to volunteering Irene Doo goes above and beyond. She is not only the Volunteer Coordinator for the Pine Hill Horse Trials in Bellville, Texas, but she also serves on the USEA Volunteer Committee, in addition to balancing a full-time job and a horse of her own. She does find time to go above and beyond, but while Doo may be extremely involved in the horse world now, it wasn’t always that way. She grew up as a typical horse-loving girl, but was never able to ride, as she lived in Singapore throughout her youth. She had always dreamed of riding and those dreams were finally realized when she moved to Canada. However, it wasn’t until late in her collegiate years that she started taking serious lessons. It was then, during these lessons, when she stumbled upon eventing and the rest, they say, is history.
She has now competed up through Training level and even tackled the long format Training Three-Day which Doo describes as being, “an incredible experience and so much fun.” Currently, Doo’s partner and best friend is a 25-year-old horse, Ace, and together they had an impressive ninth place finish at the 2015 USEA American Eventing Championships, which she was thrilled with! Not only did she compete, but it was at these events many years ago where she began volunteering and began doing various jobs such as jump judging and scribing, which happens to be her favorite.
Doo explained, “I love scribing because it is so educational. Sometimes I would get to shows early so that I could just take the day to scribe. Jump judging is a close second because you get to see people having fun, but scribing is definitely my favorite.” Sometimes she doesn’t get to volunteer as much as she’d like as she currently lives in Austin, Texas and the closest event (Pine Hill) is two hours away. However, distance doesn’t stop her and you can expect to find her at every event at Pine Hill, managing the volunteers and making sure things run smoothly, as well as competing on Ace!
Photo courtesy of Irene Doo.
Recently, she read an article profiling Seema Sonnad and was blown away by her sentiments and dedication. While she is sad she never got to meet Seema, she wanted to try and honor her memory by getting more involved with the volunteer activities at the national level.
When she isn’t volunteering or riding, Doo works as an instructional designer at a publishing company designing training courses and is also a part-time college math professor. When she saw a need for something to help educate volunteers, she had the idea for special training videos and was excited to combine her expertise with her passion. It just so happened that teaching and creating them was right up her alley! Doo’s videos help educate and prepare volunteers and now not only are they used for the Pine Hill volunteers, but they have also been published on the USEA website to help events across the country educate their volunteers as well. She is extremely invested in trying to assist volunteers and will to do anything she can to give back to the sport. Click here to view some of the exciting videos produced so far. Doo’s next project is working with the USEA Volunteer Committee to create more training videos that could be used by any eventing facility nationally.
It is easy to hear how passionate she is about these videos when you speak with her. As a volunteer herself, she has a unique perspective because she remembers what it was like to not exactly know what she was doing. Doo added, “Volunteers want to know how to do their job, I know I did. The last thing they want to do is mess up and have both the competitors and officials mad at them and it is my goal to help educate them with these videos so that new volunteers will feel they can do the job and hopefully come back to help again.”
Photo courtesy of Irene Doo.
While these videos are incredible, Doo hasn’t stopped there. She has always wanted to become more involved with the USEA so, when she was offered a spot on the Volunteer Committee she immediately accepted. USEA Volunteer Committee Chair Holly Covey is quick to explain how much of an impact she has made on the growth and success of volunteer programs everywhere.
Covey explained that, “While she does handle the big task of getting volunteers for eventing in Texas, which is hard enough on its own, she has also developed a very organized base of education for volunteers and her checklists have been adopted by the USEA. We are so grateful to Irene for everything she has done to better our sport!”
When asked why she loves to volunteer so much, Doo was quick to point out that, “I love helping others and couldn’t think of a better way to give back to this incredible sport.” This true passion and dedication for volunteering also comes from her love of the sport and horses. It is easy to see the passion she has for eventing. We asked her why she loves eventing so much and in response, Doo replied, “It used to be the adrenaline rush of cross-country, but recently I have begun to love all three phases and dressage has become a favorite as well! I love everything from the incredible people who I have met, to the special horses I have been privileged enough to ride. Nothing else can compare.”
If you were to ask the eventing community about Doo, you would no doubt only hear wonderful things. Covey describes Doo as being, “selfless and passionate.” She explained that, “ It is not often that you see someone give back in so many different forms and I feel privileged to have her on the committee. The USEA is very lucky!” Doo is the type of person who would go out of her way to help others and her dedication to the eventing community in all realms is absolutely incredible. It is special to see how much of an impact she has made and continues to make with her special work. Volunteers have already had an extremely positive response to the videos and there are more in the works for all volunteer positions. There aren’t many events in Area V, especially at Pine Hill, that she misses so make sure you keep an eye out for her – and when you see her, give her a huge thank you, because the eventing community would not be the same without her.
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.
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