Apr 15, 2022

The VIP Volunteer: Janice Holmes

Photo courtesy of Janice Holmes

For Janice Holmes, volunteering is only one of the many hats she has donned over her life-long career in the equestrian industry. From a young age, she knew her purpose was in the equine industry. A rider from the age of 8, Holmes started her profession as a hunter trainer in the early part of her riding career but didn’t find the sport of eventing until a chance adventure with a friend when she was in her thirties.

“A friend of mine was jump judging at what is now the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event back in 1986,” explained Holmes. “I tagged along but knew nothing about the sport. The next thing I knew, I was also volunteering as a jump judge the following year, and I was then asked to run the showjumping warm-up following that.”

Holmes, who is now in her sixties, may have been thrown into the deep end of the sport, but she was immediately fascinated with the eventing mindset and way of life.

“When I went to my first horse trials, I was amazed by how friendly, inviting, and encouraging all of the competitors were,” she added. “Event riders are totally different from most competitors in the sport.”

The initial spark was enough to spur Holmes into switching industries, and she went on to be the head trainer and manager of her own large boarding and training operation, Holmestead Stables, for over 30 years. Holmes kept herself busy, boarding close to 20 horses at any given time and teaching upwards of 60 lessons per week. Despite a full schedule, Holmes still found time to become involved as a volunteer in their eventing community.

“I always encouraged the students I had at my farm to volunteer and that was a big part of our involvement at events rather than just competing,” said Holmes. “As a barn, we would all pick one fence that we would act as a jump judge at every event we were at. Typically riders would jump judge for a level above what they were competing at. I also produced combined tests at our home farm, and there the students learned how to do the scoring, bit checks, and set jumps for show jumping, etc. We’ve just always been volunteer-oriented.”

For Holmes, the benefit of volunteering goes beyond giving back to the community. Having dedicated her whole life to the sport, Holmes has been intimately involved in every facet and has seen it from every viewpoint.

“I have been involved as a competitor, a coach, an organizer, a volunteer, and an official,” she stated. “Having the knowledge of how all of those elements work and how they work together really allows me to see the overall picture.”

Holmes recently retired and relocated to Aiken, South Carolina, where she can, of course, often be found participating at a local event as a volunteer or as a judge.

“I received my small 'r' judges license about 12 years ago, so if I am not volunteering I am usually judging or vice versa,” she detailed. “Being new to this area, I figured the best way to get to know my new eventing community was to start volunteering!”

According to Holmes, her time spent as a volunteer has had a significant impact on both her time as a coach and as a judge/official. Some of the forms of volunteer work she enjoys the most are jump judging, scribing, and working the showjumping warm-up.

“Working the show jumping warm-up is fun for me because you are able to meet each one of the riders, and actually see that they are normal, typically very kind, people,” she said. “I think most learning, especially as a competitor or trainer, can be done volunteering as a scribe or jump judge. For example, when I jump judge on the cross country course, I am able to take what I saw at home and apply it to my students on why something didn’t work and how it would be corrected. It also exposes you to some of the best riders in the world and you are able to watch how they bring along a horse through the levels.”

“Scribing is another fantastic way to learn because you are right there with the judge,” she continued. “If a competitor wishes to really learn what the judges are looking for in the dressage arena, they should scribe, and as a judge, I can say firsthand that it is difficult to find a good scribe.”

She decided to pursue her own judging license following several years as the vice president and president of the MidSouth Eventing and Dressage Association.

“The Association had its own recognizing officials program, and I was the co-chair of that committee during my time as the vice president and president,” said Holmes. “I have always had an interest in judging dating back to my high school days when I was part of the winning team in the 4-H horse judging contest. To me, it seemed like a no-brainer to also obtain my license with USEF.”

Holmes’ many different hats have allowed her to see the overall picture of the community with unique clarity that not many have. She takes her knowledge of each role with her into whatever role she is participating in that day and hopes that others will see the benefit as well.

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.

May 26, 2022 Education

Rule Refresher: What Will Be Expected of Me at the Beginner Novice or Novice Level?

Preparing for your first horse trial and not sure what is expected of you at each level? Over the course of the next few Rule Refreshers, we will be diving into each level and the performance expectations of each phase. Want to better prepare yourself or your students for their first competition or a move-up? The USEA Eventing Handbook by the Levels is a free resource to all USEA members that outlines clear and consistent guidelines for riders and trainers to refer to when navigating their way through the competition levels. You can access this guide by logging into your online services account.

May 25, 2022 Profile

Now On Course: Handing Over The Reins

I’m not one for the spotlight. As the voice of the Association, you don’t need to know my personal views, political, eventing, or otherwise. So despite my byline appearing on thousands of articles on the USEA website and magazine, this is probably only the second time I’m writing about myself (the first was about my love for lessons, and reading it now makes me laugh as I am still 100% addicted). But as I am now just a USEA member I thought I would share a bit of my journey to add to our member spotlight series, Now on Course.

May 24, 2022 Education

Tips for Successful Haul-In Schooling

You’ve likely spent some time scouring the USEA Calendar to line up your 2022 competition schedule. Now that spring has sprung, it’s time to plan some cross-country schooling outings to make sure you and your horse are as ready as possible. If you own or manage a facility that welcomes guests for haul-in schooling, you’ve likely noticed horses and their humans showing up in droves to get their practice in. A successful off-site schooling day has many, many moving parts. From paperwork and payment to safety, these best practices for hosts and guests will help everything go as smoothly as possible.

May 23, 2022 Eventing News

US Equestrian Announces Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team for CHIO Aachen CCIO4*-S

US Equestrian is pleased to announce the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team for the CHIO Aachen CCIO4*-S at CHIO Aachen World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany, from July 1-2, 2022. The team will be led by Chef d’Equipe Bobby Costello.

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