Prior to moving to Aiken, South Carolina in the summer of 2019, Kristin Harms Matthews’ involvement with horses was limited to attending the Aiken Steeplechase Events. “At my first Aiken Steeplechase event, we were positioned in front of a jump near the finish line,” Matthews recalled. “While this is a prime spot to watch the races, I witnessed a race where several horses fell, one after another in a chain reaction, over the jump. And although the horses and riders were all fine, I was traumatized for months seeing these creatures crash to the ground. My husband even took me to visit horses near the Training Track stables to help me get over my fear. I could not believe that he was petting their heads and allowing them to nuzzle on his cheek! The horror...”
So, during the summer of 2019, Matthews made the decision to do something about her fear of horses and become more educated about them. She began searching for opportunities to volunteer with horses and learn more about equestrian sports. That’s when she learned about Stable View. “When I learned about Stable View and how they educated volunteers to help with the equestrian events, I volunteered for my first horse trials in June of 2019,” Matthews said.
“I was immediately fascinated with the grace and beauty of horses as they ran the cross-country course,” she continued. “Every month (except four) after that, I have volunteered for Horse Trials and Eventing Academies at Stable View as well as at Bruce's Field, Full Gallop Farm, and Sporting Days. Of course, my favorite volunteer position will always be as a jump judge on the cross-country course.”
“The best part about volunteering in the equestrian community in Aiken is having the opportunity to learn about the horses, the different disciplines in eventing, and meeting competitors of all experience levels,” Matthews shared. “It has been fun watching the growth of competitors from one year to the next and being able to cheer them on by name. The eventing community is unique in that riders and horses are connected on a deeper level than perhaps some other equestrian disciplines. There is a bond that is formed when a rider works with their horse day after day, learning and refining the skills needed to compete successfully (and safely) in the three different disciplines of eventing.”
Matthews’ experience as an eventing volunteer has prompted her to purchase a horse of her very own and she is now training with her mare, Duchess of Skye, to compete in pure dressage. “I cannot imagine life without my Duchess of Skye, my riding instructor, and my responsibility of managing the barn when needed. I no longer fear horses. I have a great respect and appreciation for each horse that I meet. My goal is to participate in a trail riding journey on an Icelandic horse during my return trip to Iceland next summer!”
Matthews concluded, “Thank you for this opportunity to share how volunteering with equestrian eventing has changed my life.”
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.
Since the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Program was founded in 2014, it has grown in popularity and participation each year. The USEA is excited to have 23 intercollegiate team challenges on the calendar in 2021 in addition to the 2021 USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships, which will be held at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Virginia on May 27-30.
In 2000 and with the support of Joan Iversen Goswell, the Worth the Trust Educational Scholarships were established to provide financial assistance to amateurs to pursue their education in eventing. The funds from the Worth the Trust Educational Scholarships may be used for training opportunities such as clinics, working student positions, and private or group instruction, or to learn from an official, course designer, technical delegate, judge, veterinarian, or organizer.
The Linda Moore Trophy was introduced in 1979 and awarded to the leading Young Rider in the country. After a strong showing during the 2020 season, 16-year-old Benjamin Noonan of Ballwin, Missouri was named the 2020 RevitaVet Young Rider of the Year.
The USEA is sorry to announce that there will be no USEA Educational Symposium held in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The USEA Educational Symposium is hosted annually each February as a week of learning for participants and auditors.