May 28, 2024

Membership Minute: Volunteers are the Superstars of Eventing

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
USEA/ Leslie Mintz photo

There are a lot of moving parts behind every horse trial, but one of the most important facets to an event running smoothly is the dedication of the volunteers working the event. Let’s face it, our sport would not be what it is without the time offered up by these individuals. Without the contributions of volunteers, it would be impossible for an event to operate in the way that it needs to and at a cost that competitors could afford. That is why it is so important that we continue to not only recognize the amazing volunteers who give up their weekends to support our sport, but also carve out time in our schedules to volunteer as well and give back to the sport in that manner.

Did you know that many volunteer coordinators will accommodate your ride times to allow you to still volunteer on weekends that you are showing? With so many roles and responsibilities, there are plenty of opportunities for people with all schedules and skill sets to still volunteer. There are even opportunities to volunteer before the event as well!

Considering jumping into the realm of volunteering? We asked some of our dedicated USEA VIP Volunteers to share what their favorite volunteering position is and why. Check out their feedback and the many resources below to help you get started on your volunteering journey.

Sarah Airhart: “I love it all but I do have a routine at every show! Friday—dressage warmup. Saturday— cross-country jump judging. Sunday—show jumping warm up.

"I hope to be a calm and joyful presence for the riders who are so focused and running on adrenaline. I like to make sure everyone is being safe so that the warm up ring can be a helpful and productive part of their ride. I am just fascinated when jump judging at seeing the grit and determination that each rider brings, I like to analyze how the approach a fence and where they go next—it’s thrilling! But I would also do any job the show needed because my primary goal is to be of service.”

Marianne Britt: “I have learned so much by volunteering—a wealth of knowledge and friendships over the years and a chance to hang out with the ‘cool’ kids. Being behind the scenes, seeing how much goes into an event will give you a deeper appreciation of our sport and life.”

Chrissy Monteloeone West: I have volunteered to paint our fences for years at our little recognized event here in Louisiana called Fleur De Leap. I enjoy re-staining and painting our jumps. It allows me to give a new look and add some of my personality into the course! To be able to go out on the course and see all the jumps look fresh and clean is awesome. Then to see the riders jump them and the professional pictures of them all decorated and painted is such a reward.

"I also take into consideration every year what riders are saying about these fences and the colors. One year the first fences were a bit too much and caused some problems, so I came back out and repainted another color and everyone was happy again. My favorite jump that we repainted was two old offset tables that we painted to look like mushrooms!”

Lorraine Heath: “Scribing—I always learn a lot that I can apply to my own riding, no matter what the level! I also love being the ring steward for the cross-country warm up because I like to help keep things moving and on time, and I have a loud voice that it’s hard to ignore, even when riders are nervous and really focused on their preparations!”

Michael Wilhelm: “As a three-star level rider who has to travel far for that level, I've made it a point to try to volunteer at the local recognized and unrecognized horse trials in my area. I also have made it a point to try to experience every position at least once so that I know what is involved when I'm a competitor! I'm close to that goal, the only things I haven't done are scoring and score running that I can think of.

"My favorite has to be scribing because of the immense knowledge and different viewpoints you can gain from it.Although aside from that, I also love running warm up rings. Something about being super organized and keeping track of riders is really fun to me.”

Diane Bird: “Most of my time volunteering is spent at the cross-country startbox. I love talking to the riders before they go on course. I also enjoy score running and scribing for dressage and love decorating the cross-country course too.”

Erin Tomson: “I love to scribe! I learn so much from listening and talking with judges and seeing the tests from their perspective! As a rider, my own tests have improved because of it. I also love running the show jumping in-gate because it’s a great vantage point to watch all the rounds!”

Karen Pando: “I have been a jump judge, mainly at Rocking Horse, but also at Three Lakes, for over 30 years. I love seeing all the top riders who come to Florida for the winter. I enjoy watching them with young horses and seeing how they work with them over the courses. And of course, seeing the top riders on their top horses and watching how they approach the big fences and make just slight adjustments to hit that perfect spot.

"I love to see how many riders there are in the Beginner Novice and Novice classes. It is good to see that this sport is thriving when others are struggling for numbers. And of course, I love to be outdoors, under the beautiful oak trees enjoying the moment. It is a great way to spend a weekend.”

Susan Marie: “I was a shuttle driver this year, and it was so much fun! All the people were wonderful. I also help with course decorations, and I really enjoy jump judging. It is so important to keep the jump and footing good for each rider! The riders are so appreciative.”

Tiffany Morey: “I love volunteering in scoring! It’s a lot of work and moving parts to manage, but I enjoy the chaos and challenge of doing it efficiently to keep things moving smoothly.”

Diana Rowland: “I learned the love of event volunteering from my mother. Back in the day she would always fence judge at Radnor Three-Day and Chesterland Three-Day. I remember being dragged out on very chilly mornings to sit on a blanket in the wet grass—maybe with a hot chocolate. She instilled in me how essential volunteering is to the sport. I didn’t appreciate it at the time of course, though I loved the omelets and shopping with her at Radnor after we were done. I proudly volunteer whenever I can and thank everyone who gives their time. We can’t do this without them.”

Want to learn more about volunteering at your local horse trials? There are tons of resources here to help you make that goal a reality! We also encourage you to check out https://www.eventingvolunteers.com/ for opportunities to volunteer in your area and to earn points as part of the USEA Volunteer Incentive Program!

About the USEA Volunteer Incentive Program

Volunteers are the lifeblood of our sport, the unsung heroes, and the people who make it possible to keep eventing alive. In efforts to recognize the dedication, commitment, and hard work that volunteers put into eventing, the 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, which is also available as an app for iOS and Android.

Volunteer incentives include national and area recognition, year-end awards, a top ten USEA Volunteer leaderboard, and a Volunteer of the Year award which is given to the volunteer who accumulates the most volunteer hours on EventingVolunteers.com at recognized events throughout the USEA competition year. Click here to learn more about the USEA Volunteer Incentive Program.

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Jun 18, 2024 Young Event Horse

USEA Announces 2024 YEH Championships Venues, Judges, and Entry Process

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce the return of The Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse Championships to both the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill and Twin Rivers Ranch. Each venue has renewed their contracts for two-year terms with an option for a third automatic renewal as mutually agreed upon.

Jun 17, 2024 Eventing News

O'Neal and Clooney 14 Capture the Win at Inaugural Aspen Farms CCI4*-S

At the end of an exciting weekend at Aspen Farms Horse Trials, Karen O'Neal and Clooney 14, a 10-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Annika Asling, sealed the win in the inaugural CCI4*-S. They started the division in the lead with a dressage score of 35.0, but then dropped to second after show jumping on Saturday due to one rail.

Jun 17, 2024 Eventing News

Get Ready for the Maryland International and USEF Eventing Young Rider Championship

The countdown to the Maryland International & Horse Trials hosted at Loch Moy Farm in Adamstown, Maryland, on July 5-7 has begun. With competition for all FEI divisions from CCI1* to CCI4*-S, as well as national levels Training through Advanced, local riders will be able to compete alongside the best of the best.

Jun 17, 2024

Fast Facts: EA21 Regional Clinics

One of the best parts of summer is the return of the USEA Emerging Athletes U21 Program (EA21) Regional Clinics! This will be the third year that the USEA is offering these two-day educational sessions for the chosen applicants. There are five clinics taking place across the U.S. over the course of the summer. A USEA Eventing Coaches Program (ECP) certified instructor will guide 12 hand-selected applicants at each clinic.

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