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.
“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 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.”
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.
Plenty of event riders have chosen to cross oceans and base themselves thousands of miles away from “home” in pursuit of their career dreams - look at the likes of New Zealanders Sir Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson, and now Tim and Jonelle Price, while Andrew Hoy, Clayton Fredericks and of course Boyd Martin and Phillip Dutton have set sail from Australian shores. Not many American riders do it, though, probably because the sport is big enough and competitive enough in the U.S. not to make it necessary.
Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.
Strides for Equality Equestrians and the United States Eventing Association Foundation are proud to announce the first recipient of the Ever So Sweet Scholarship. The scholarship, which is the first of its kind, provides a fully-funded opportunity for riders from diverse backgrounds to train with upper-level professionals. Helen Casteel of Maryland is the first recipient of the bi-annual scholarship.
Tomorrow is Juneteenth, which marks the day in 1865 when the federal order was read in Galveston, Texas stating that all enslaved people in Texas were free. This federal order was critical because it represented the emancipation of the last remaining enslaved African Americans in the Confederate States. Although Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had formally freed all people enslaved in the Confederacy almost two and a half years earlier, Union enforcement of the proclamation had been slow and inconsistent, especially in Texas. Slavery would continue in two states that had remained in the Union— Kentucky and Delaware — until the ratification of the 13th Amendment in December 1865.