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].
Horses have always been in Scarlett Schall’s blood. Her mom and dad ran a world-renowned Quarter Horse breeding program in southern Maryland and Schall was on a horse before she could walk. Growing up, she was immersed in all disciplines as her parents bred the horses that she and her siblings would ride. Schall fondly remembers the days she and her siblings would ride and break the young Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses the family had and the countless shows they would attend. “My mom rode hunter/jumpers and my dad did both but mainly focused on western pleasure and reining,” she explained.
She would watch her parents produce Quarter Horse World Champion after World Champion with one of her favorites, Bob’s Bay King, winning five crowns of his own. Their operation was hugely successful, allowing Schall to ride in both the hunter/jumper rings and western pleasure arenas while dabbling in a little bit of eventing. It was her upbringing around horses and her parent’s eventual migration to Aiken, South Carolina, that set the stage for Schall’s future heightened involvement in the sport of eventing.
When her parents decided to move to Aiken in 2003, they moved their operation to a 54-acre farm that just so happened to be seven minutes down the road from what would become Stable View Farm. They had a 12 stall barn and everything they needed to settle down in one of the country’s prime horse areas. After Schall’s father passed away, she decided to leave her nursing job to move down to help her mother on the farm. She found a Telenurse position, allowing her to work from Aiken, so she packed up and headed south. Schall eventually purchased the farm from her mother in 2014 before she passed away in 2017.
After Schall arrived in Aiken, she got her first real taste of eventing when she saw cross-country course after cross-country course. While she and her husband were expanding the family business by adding on to the already existing barn, Schall began to volunteer at the different venues in her free time to not only watch but to also earn the volunteer vouchers so she could experience it herself. She would go school cross-country with the vouchers she earned but as time went on, she had so much fun volunteering that she began to do it more and more.
“I really enjoy it. I get to watch all of these amazing riders, even Olympic riders like Boyd Martin and Phillip Dutton," Schall said. "It is very cool when the West Coast riders come east as well, like Tamie Smith. I love to watch them up close and personal. Good horses, good riding, and good talent."
As Schall would come to learn, her farm was in the perfect location too. Being right in the center of Aiken between its many venues including Sporting Days Farm, Full Gallop Farm, Paradise, Stable View, and more, has allowed her to volunteer at many different places almost every weekend in the winter. “All my weekends are almost always booked from January-March,” she said. Her favorite thing to do is to take her F350 out on cross-country and set up her table in the bed of her truck with her snacks and cooler to watch horse after horse jump her fence. Being a registered nurse, her skills are often utilized in that regard as well as she is placed strategically on course. All in a weekend’s work for Schall.
“I have dressage scribed and even ran warm-up but cross-country jump judging is probably my favorite. My husband will even come to sit with me sometimes and watch the action too,” she detailed.
Now that she has immersed herself in the eventing community, she has done a little bit of competing herself in between her volunteering. She rides with Richard Lamb and has done some Beginner Novice events in addition to her time spent in the hunter/jumper and pure dressage rings. Her time spent in all disciplines has given Schall a unique perspective on the sport and the people involved. “I love cross-country. I also really like how in the eventing community everyone appreciates volunteers because, without volunteers, you don’t have the event,” she said, adding that, “I always get a lot of thank you’s and it makes you feel appreciated.”
Finally, Schall noted that “The eventing world is just so very fun and has such an inviting atmosphere.” It is this atmosphere and the love of that sport that keeps Schall coming back and continuing to volunteer. This year alone her hours landed her in the top 16 on the USEA Volunteer leaderboard and she is in the top 25 overall. It is something she looks forward to doing and something she loves. “Volunteers give their time and often their entire weekends for these events because we love it,” she said.
Volunteers like Schall are the backbone of the sport. It is true, without them shows would not be able to function and the sport as we know it would not exist. Those who know Schall have nothing but glowing things to say and add that she is always the first person to raise his or her hand to help. She already has the first event of the year in Aiken penned into her calendar and will be volunteering at Stable View in just a few short weeks. If you see Schall while at any event, be sure to thank her and every volunteer for all they do. We couldn’t do it without them.
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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