May 18, 2021

The VIP Volunteer: Michelle Wadley

Michelle and Tim Wadley Volunteering at RK3DE in 2010. Photo Courtesy of Michelle Wadley.

Michelle Wadley has had the horse bug since she could remember. “My mom swears my first word was 'horse,' way back when I was two years old,” she recalled. The rider now owns a horse of her own, and through volunteering for the USEA, she has grown her knowledge and love for eventing.

Wadley began riding at the young age of five in Fayetteville, Arkansas, at a local hunter/jumper barn. After moving between Arkansas and Texas, Wadley gained experience in the western, eventing, and Arabian disciplines. Although tough at times, she always found a way to keep the equestrian world a part of her life.

“I was one of those people that did a little bit of everything just based on what was there and what I could do in the area where I lived,” explained Wadley. “In the end, it gave me a lot of experience with many different types of riding and different types of horses.”

Wadley took some time off from riding while in college, but she continued studying and reading about horses. Practical Horseman Magazine was one of Wadley’s go-to's to keep her up-to-date. When she did return to horses after getting married, she jumped right back into her favorite discipline: eventing.

Wadley and her horse Syd. Photo Courtesy of Michelle Wadley

“I think eventers are the best horse people in the world, and we have to be because we have three different types of riding that we do,” she said. “I meet so many cool people wherever I go, and I’m just blown away by how great they are.”

After a bad horse-related accident in 2005, Wadley went through a period of time where she was unable to ride. Inspired by her mother, who often volunteered for different organizations, she decided that it was her duty to give back, and she began volunteering at events. “My motto has always been, ‘if I can’t ride, I’m going to volunteer,’” said Wadley.

Wadley emphasizes how crucial volunteers are and how fun, interesting, and educational it can be to work at an event. “For me, it’s a really great opportunity to meet other horse people, especially other eventers, and get to know where they are from and what they are about,” she described. “The people are just amazing in eventing, and for me, that’s what drives me. It’s the chance to give back to my sport and also to meet all the wonderful people that are out there.”

Besides connecting with other people, volunteers can observe and learn from the riders who are competing. “If you just go and scribe for a couple of hours or volunteer in the warm-up, or jump judge, you are going to learn so much about eventing and the way it functions,” explained Wadley.

Wadley at the 2019 LRK3DE. Photo Courtesy of Michelle Wadley

Wadley couldn’t decide between being a scribe and a cross-country jump judge in terms of a favorite volunteer position. “I really love to scribe because it gives you an inside view of what dressage judges are looking for,” she commented. About jump judging, Wadley said, “I’m an eventer, we love cross-country, that’s why we do what we do, and it’s super fun being out there and watching the horses. I am endlessly amazed at the things these horses do and the intelligence that they have.”

Wadley is also very involved in Area V and inspiring other adult amateurs to begin volunteering. “I know every event that I work at is desperate for volunteers,” she mentioned. “I know it’s not just the [events] I’m volunteering at; it’s across the country. I think that we need to somehow make people understand not just how important it is, but how cool it is too.”

Michelle Wadley and Catherine Baker at the 2018 LRK3DE. Photo Courtesy of Michelle Wadley

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.

Jul 03, 2022 Intercollegiate

A Day in the Life with USEA Intercollegiate Member Hannah Warner

Hannah Warner wears many hats: student at the University of Kentucky, UK Eventing Team President, competitor, and head groom for Alexa Ehlers. Fitting in all of her roles and responsibilities into her day-to-day life can be a challenge, but it is a challenge that Warner finds rewarding. The college senior is working towards a business degree through UK's online business program, so Warner is able to get creative with her schedule to pursue all of her academic and eventing related goals.

Jul 02, 2022 Area Championships

Twelve Area III Champions Crowned at 2022 Area Championships

The Area III Championships kicked off the 2022 USEA Area Championship season June 24-26 at the Stable View Summer H.T. in Aiken, South Carolina. Offering 12 different championship divisions from Intermediate to Beginner Novice, the championships were highly contested as riders from all across Area III put in a gallant effort in hopes of being deemed division champion. The USEA caught up with many of the individual champions to look back on their performances in Aiken that helped them bring home the top prize.

Jul 01, 2022 Young Riders

USEA Announces Athletes for the 2022 Emerging Athlete 21 Program

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce the athletes selected for the 2022 USEA Emerging Athlete 21 (EA21) Program. USEA Young Rider program members aged 21 and under are eligible for the program, which aims to creates a pipeline for potential U.S. team riders by identifying and developing young talent, improving horsemanship and riding skills, and training and improving skills and consistency.

Jul 01, 2022 AEC

Countdown to AEC: 2 Months Away! Tentative Competition, Entertainment Schedules, & More!

The USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds are just two months away. The AEC moves to the mountains this year, taking place at Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Montana across a long Labor Day weekend.

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