Jana Flagler was a horse-loving child born into a non-horsey family. While her parents dreamed Flagler would one day be a concert pianist, which she wholeheartedly admits she is not, Flagler wanted to ride and jump horses from the first time she saw someone jumping on television. As a teenager, Flagler got that opportunity as a working student in Oklahoma.
“I did anything that needed doing around the barn to get opportunities to ride,” Flagler shared. “And I would ride anything. I only cried once— the day my newest ‘project horse’ was a 15h Appaloosa polo pony who was five feet wide with a stringy tail and no forelock.”
Thankfully, Flagler would grow to learn a lot from the Appaloosa pony named Amos. First and foremost, she said, was not to judge a book by its cover. While he never grew any hair for her to groom, he did slim down and would jump the moon for her
From an early age, Flagler had a strong interest in cross-country jump building. “I have always dreamed of participating in the development of a quality eventing and competition facility,” she commented. That opportunity became reality when she joined the board of the Southern Arizona Eventing Association (SAzEA) and took on the role of Course Construction and Maintenance Liaison. “It has been a delightful realization of my dreams,” she continued. “Part of what is so great about volunteering for shows or clinics is that I get to help dress up the course and watch all of the action. Those obstacles are meant to be jumped, after all!”
While she loves to help out at her local events as a cross-country score runner or in course preparation, all of her work with the SAzEA has been fulfilling and she has truly loved getting to meet all of the people who are also dedicated to the sport in one way or another. She has even been known to bring an industrial shredder/ wood chipper out to the cross-country course with her pre-event to shred up any spare limbs that might be in the way. Professional attorney by day, limb destroyer by afternoon, Flagler makes sure to make time for helping out in whatever manner she is needed.
Volunteering is a labor of love and Flagler commented that the days are very busy and not always the most exciting, but she finds the work rewarding nonetheless. A typical day in the life for Flagler can run from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. as she juggles her full-time career, volunteering activities, and keeping her home-life with her husband, dog, cat, horse, and garden happy and attended to! She has found she can work, either for her law firm or for the SAzEA, from the road and make several phone calls regarding business, volunteer commitments, course design and so much more while making the half-hour commute to ride her horse. While her to-do list is updated daily, it never seems to get shorter, but she wouldn’t want it any other way.
Looking back on her time as a volunteer, her most favorite memories are a direct reflection of the way volunteering brings a community together. “One work day a few years back, we had lots of wonderful volunteers show up with pruners and loppers and rakes,” she shared. “In that one day, we cleared an entire path through the really thick mesquite trees connecting two main tracks together. There was great camaraderie and such a feeling of accomplishment!”
When it comes down to it, for Flagler there is one true reward to her time spent volunteering. “It takes a team to make the event happen. It takes a team to get a horse and rider to the event. Even in competition, eventers help each other and work together. When horses and riders safely cross the finish line with smiles on their faces and joy in their hearts, we all feel the elation. The horse trial volunteers are an integral part of that joy – we feel it too.”
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 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 USEA is heartbroken to hear about the loss of James “Jimmy” C. Wofford. A lifelong lover and supporter of the sport, Wofford has had an astounding influence on where eventing is today and has tirelessly supported the goals of the United States Eventing Association. He served as president of the American Horse Show Association (now U.S. Equestrian (USEF)), was the first vice-president of the U.S. Equestrian Team (USET), and served as secretary of the USCTA (now USEA). He served two terms as a member of the FEI Eventing Committee, including two years as vice chairman. In addition, he has served on numerous committees during his career.
Experience the thrill of traditional long format three-day eventing by competing in a USEA Classic Series event in 2023! The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce that the 2023 Classic Series calendar is now available.
Amanda Walker wasn’t sure what she’d gotten herself into when she went to try Runaway Romeo as a potential sales project in 2018. The gelding was a bit bigger than Walker was looking for and was quite pushy coming out of the stall. When she got on, it didn’t get much better.
For seasoned and novice riders alike, it is always good to revisit the basics. Serving as the foundation for any eventer, the positions used on the cross-country course differ from those in the dressage or show jumping ring. The USEA tuned into five-time Olympian, three-time World Equestrian Games rider, two Pan-American Games rider, and USEA ECP certified coach Karen O'Connor as she walked coaches and students at the USEA ECP Symposium through the basic positions for effective cross-country riding.