Lisa Pragg is a busy woman, but between her normal day job and competing her own 19-year-old Thoroughbred Impeccable she still prioritizes time to volunteer - both at horse trials and as a volunteer firefighter. Pragg understands the importance that volunteers play in the eventing community and makes sure to give whatever time she can back as a fair gesture.
“In today’s world, people are being pulled in so many different directions that it’s hard to find ‘extra’ time to volunteer, but it’s absolutely crucial,” said Pragg. “I feel that volunteering at horse trials is my way of giving back to all those people who give up their free time when I’m competing with my horse. I try to thank those volunteers for their time because I know what it’s like.”
Horses entered Pragg’s life when she moved across the street from an Arabian farm in the third grade. “Occasionally my mom and I would take care of them when the owner went on vacation,” she reflected. “My neighbor would let me hop on from time to time. Interacting with these gorgeous animals sparked my interest in wanting to ride. That bug didn’t really take hold until college when I started taking a few lessons here and there. One of my good friends started taking lessons with me a few years later, and horses have been in my life ever since. I currently compete with my horse Impeccable. He’s a saint and we both love cross-country!”
It wasn’t until she began training with Allie Sacksen at VonSacksen Eventing, however, that Pragg became an avid volunteer. “Both Allie, and her mom Stacey, frequently volunteer at Fair Hill International. Stacey asked me to come help cross-country fence judge and assist with decorating jumps a few years back. I really enjoyed the decorating aspect because it lets my artistic side come out and be creative.”
Pragg’s time as a volunteer even afforded her the opportunity to work alongside Janine McClain, renowned course decorator. “I learned so much from her about the ins and outs of proper ground lines, safety aspects, and how to make the course more visually pleasing for both the horse and spectators. We worked together during the inaugural Maryland 5 Star, which was exciting and nerve-wracking since there was a lot on the line for the debut!”
Over the last two years, Pragg has taken over the role of cross-country course decorator for Fair Hill International, a role that she cherishes with all her heart. “I get to work with so many wonderful people who put in countless hours to make each and every event better than the one before it.”
Pragg reflects that it is not just the eventing community that needs volunteers and encourages everyone to find some time to volunteer in one way or another in their community. “I think volunteering is crucial to the success of so many businesses and events in today’s society. When I’m not teaching in my normal job or at Fair Hill, I’m also a volunteer firefighter with Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder in Newark, Delaware. At both Fair Hill and Aetna, we desperately need volunteers to maintain the services we provide and stay afloat.”
While the days can be long, there is nothing more rewarding for Pragg than the interactions she has with the competitors, staff, and other volunteers. “The eventing community has some fabulous people who are willing to share a smile and a good luck wish as you head for the start box, help you when your horse is just not having it at a show, or even lending missing tack or equipment during that panic moment as you tack up. Great friendships are made and your barn family truly becomes part of your family.”
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.
“The highest priority must be given by instructors to developing in their riders a correct, balanced, supple, effective, and independent seat for dressage and for jumping.” - “Teaching Principles” in the new ECP Eventing Handbook by the Levels
If you are on the fence about attending the 2022 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention this December 7-11 in Savannah, GA, the schedule of thought-provoking and insightful educational sessions planned for the event is sure to convince you to register today! To learn more about the various sessions and their hosts, click here.
This summer, five USEA Emerging Athlete 21 (EA21) Clinics took place across the country giving young riders the opportunity to hone in on their horsemanship skills, improve their consistency in the saddle and show ring, and create a pipeline for potential team riders by identifying and developing young talent. We caught up with many of the riders from the two West Coast sessions to hear their takes on the USEA’s newest program.
It’s about that time of year again when eventers across the country are packing their trunks and making arrangements to new locations for the winter months. While some owners might feel more comfortable transporting their own horses, time and resources make it more expedient for others to load their horses onto someone else’s rig for the potentially long journey to their winter quarters. For the safety and peace of mind of everyone involved – especially the equine passengers – two trusted shippers based on the east coast shared their tips for best practices when preparing horses for long trailer rides.