Jen Shattuck is like many amateurs in eventing. She works a full-time job as a nurse anesthetist at the Army Medical Center in Ft. Bragg, N.C., balances her time riding her horses, and volunteers at competitions whenever she can to give back to the sport she loves.
In February, Shattuck, who lives a mile from the Carolina Horse Park and volunteers there often, posted on the Chronicle’s online eventing forum asking if people would be interested in donating money to sponsor a jump at the inaugural Carolina International CIC.
She was astonished with the response she got. “What I kind of came up with is if we got 25 people to donate $20 apiece, that would be a stadium jump,” she said. “If it was a little bit short, that was OK and I knew I would get Park Dollars [for volunteering] and it would all even out. If we had more than enough people, we could sponsor a cross-country jump. [Organizer Jane Murray] was so great that she gave us a cross-country jump anyway! So we have the COTH Triple Bar on the advanced/CIC*** course, fence 19.”
Shattuck said she’s seen a lot of talk recently about how expensive eventing is getting for the average competitor, and thought that a voluntary donation to an event would be a good way to help a competition offset costs without a mandatory fee being tacked on to an entry. “If people want to contribute to the sport, this is a way to do it voluntarily,” she said. “You’re part of a bigger picture without it coming out of your pocket unwillingly.
“Any time that the little people can come together and say, ‘Look! We have a voice,’ especially with the trend of the bigger professionals having bigger and bigger voices and the little people have smaller, smaller voices, this is a way for the little people to come together and have a big voice too,” she continued. “Little people become bigger people, pennies become dollars and dollars become checks.”
Although Shattuck, who’s been a member of the COTH Forums for about three years under the name ACMEeventing, had never met any of the donators in person before the competition, she and four other members met at the end of cross-country day to take a photo in front of the jump and put screen names to faces.
“I thought it would be a fun way to unite our little online eventing family,” she said. “We’re all for the most part, faceless, nameless screen names, and I thought maybe it would be a fun thing to get everybody together and help support a really cool new venture. I think it’s a great resource because you can get almost any question answered on the forum and there’s always the weekend entertainment factor!
“It’s easy to express your opinion when you don’t put your face behind it, but I also have a link to my blog, so I’m hardly anonymous. I don’t mind sitting behind whatever comes out of my mouth!”
Shattuck, 47, spent all day volunteering at bit check for dressage on Thursday after working a 24-hour shift at the hospital and she was excited to spend Saturday watching some of the top horses and riders on cross-country and meet new friends.
“I just think the people here are really nice,” she said. “They’re really good to their volunteers. It makes me feel good to help them. I’m really grateful that people came together. It makes me happy that we can all unite, despite whatever differences we may have.”