Apr 04, 2023

The VIP Volunteer: Kayla DeHart

By Lindsay Berreth - USEA Staff
Kayla DeHart (left) steps in to help with any task while volunteering. Photo courtesy of Carol Jones.

If something needs to be done at an event in Area IX, you can be sure Kayla Dehart’s thought of it.

And when she’s not doing her usual job of cross-country control, the 24-year-old will step in to help with anything that needs to be done.

DeHart’s put in long hours at every event in her native Colorado, and last year she racked up 88 hours to top the rankings of the USEA Volunteer Incentive Program in Area IX.

DeHart’s trainer and Area IX volunteer coordinator Carol Jones says she calls DeHart her “wingman,” and the pair make a great team.

“We’ve worked very long days together,” she said. “Sometimes the days are so long that she exceeds the hours I’m allowed to log onto the VIP site for her! They call us the Dream Team. It’s almost like between the two of us, no stone gets left unturned. I don’t even have to tell Kayla stuff. Half the time it’s like, ‘Oh shoot I know what I forgot,’ and she’s like, ‘Done.’ And I go, ‘Thank goodness!’ She’s gone way above and beyond on many occasions.”

When she's not volunteering, Kayla DeHart enjoys competing. Photo courtesy of Kayla DeHart

DeHart grew up in Colorado and got into eventing in middle school. Jones roped her and other students into volunteering early on.

“I know it’s hard getting volunteers, especially in our area because we’re so small and widespread,” said DeHart. “It’s good to try to help keep everything running. We have a lot of recognizable trainers who everybody knows. A lot of people know each other, and most of us get along in our area. Everybody understands because we only have a small amount of events.”

Now based in Elizabeth, Colorado, DeHart works full-time for Wendel Veterinary Services as a vet assistant and spends her weekends volunteering. She has a young horse she’s hoping to start competing in the near future.

Jones has watched DeHart grow as a rider and competitor in her time volunteering. “It’s amazing how much you can learn from being behind the scenes,” she said. “She’s thrown herself into that. The nice part is she can do almost every position because she’s done almost every one of them. She’s very good at cross-country control because she’s organized and stays on top of things. If a jump judge misses something, she sees it. She’s always on the hill with her truck. She’s now learned to score. My husband was scoring almost every horse trial in Area XI, then the dressage people started to steal him, so he bounces back and forth. The ones he doesn’t score Kayla will score.”

DeHart often works as a paid cross-country controller, but when she’s not doing that, she’ll fill in scribing, score running, or setting up dressage rings.

She’s eager to start the Area IX season, where she’s hoping to volunteer at all of the Colorado events again—Spring Gulch, Round Top, and Tomora Horse Trials, and maybe the new Redefined Equestrian Horse Trials. She’s volunteered at The Spring Event at Archer in Wyoming and is hoping to make the trip to Utah to The Event at Skyline and Golden Spike Horse Trials in the future.

“For people who want to volunteer but don’t think they can do the job, it’s an easy thing to learn,” she said. “For cross-country, we can teach them how to jump judge. It’s a good experience to get other people involved who have never seen this type of sport or been around horses.”

“I like the appreciation we get from everybody that really understands how much work [it takes, and that] the volunteers make these horse trials. No volunteers, no horse trials,” she added.

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 (https://useventing.com/support-usea/volunteer) to learn more about the USEA Volunteer Incentive Program.

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