Recently I spent a week in Kalispell, Mont., to attend The Event at Rebecca Farm. I’ve been there several times in the past as a competitor, and if you have not yet already been, I highly encourage you to do so.
Aside from the absolutely breathtaking scenery and fantastic courses, Rebecca Farm is also one of the most well-run and most fun events you can possibly go to. No matter where you are traveling from, I assure you that it is well worth the trip.
This year, I did not go to compete but instead to volunteer and spend some time “behind the scenes.” I got to spend a very educational day scribing in the novice and training level arenas, I got to lead a training three-day course walk (SO fun!), and I spent two mornings helping in the vet box after cross-country for the novice three-day, training three-day, and FEI divisions.
I learned (and re-learned) quite a lot about many aspects of the sport, and I also benefited from having a chance to watch the entirety of the CIC*** division ride dressage and cross-country. Of course, in between all of my fun duties I was able to catch up with my dear West Coast comrades and that certainly made my heart happy.
As the hosts of and driving force behind The Event, some of you may already be familiar with the many accolades of the Broussard family and their generosity and commitment to bettering eventing for North American riders. In addition to hosting a world-class event, Sarah and Jerome Broussard continue to carry out Rebecca “Becky” Broussard’s vision to help U.S. riders represent the team in international competition through the Rebecca Broussard International Developing Rider Grant, which offers $250,000 ($50,000 annually) through the USEA Endowment Trust for training and competition grants. Additionally, the “Halt Cancer at X” campaign was launched by Sarah Broussard to raise money for breast cancer research and is responsible for raising upwards of $50,000 each year for that purpose.
As a very fortunate recipient of last year’s “Big Becky” grant, I was asked this year to sit on the committee to help chose 2014’s recipients. As a rookie committee member, from the get-go I was in awe of how much planning, discussion, and absolute attention to detail goes into every matter. It was also a very eye-opening and motivating experience to sit in on the interviews that each of the applicants undergo as part of their application process.
The thing about the “Big Becky” grant that makes it unlike typical USEF grants is that recipients are not selected solely for who they are on paper. Although current results and competitive goals are certainly important and are a huge deciding factor, equally important is the candidate’s ability to interact with his or her eventing community. And that is why the interviews are so important; they are a chance to get to know applicants personally and evaluate their potential to be an ambassador to Rebecca Broussard’s vision for U.S. eventing.
Ambassadorship was indeed a huge theme throughout the interviews, and tied closely with that was the idea of “legacy.” Interviewees were asked, in some version or another, “What do you hope your legacy will be?”
Listening to the many thoughtful, heartfelt, and passionate answers was indeed thought-provoking and inspiring. One response struck me as absolutely brilliant, and admittedly made me feel not-a-little-small-minded for never thinking of it before: “I hope that people will see me as someone who left the sport better than I found it.”
That answer has made me reopen the matter with myself. What am I doing to leave this sport better than I found it? What am I doing that makes a difference?
I had a long discussion with Diane Pitts (current USEA president) about how to get my foot in the door and move toward being more involved in the non-competitive side of the sport. She asked me what I was passionate about and suggested that might be a good place to start. I told her that I am always saddened when I hear of young riders leaving their sport behind when they enroll in college. While I am thrilled that kids are deciding to continue with their education, I wish there was some way to encourage them to stay involved with eventing, as well. It sometimes takes some work, but you CAN do both.
Well, about an hour later and a few shot-from-the-hip ideas later, I found myself volunteering to undertake a project trying to tie in USEA with continuing education for young members. My hope is that I can find some (formal) way that USEA can offer its members course credits or internships or work-study hours for time they spend involved with eventing-related tasks, whether it be apprenticing with an FEI veterinarian, working at Eventing Magazine, helping to organize an event…. so on and so forth.
I have already set forth on the preliminary ventures of the project to gather more information and ideas, and I realize now it’s going to be quite a project. However, I’m excited at the prospect of having something meaningful and long-lasting to show for it at the end.
…..and by all means, if you have any great ideas on this topic, send them my way!
But now, as you head off to work or ride or plan your next competitive goal, I leave you with this question: What do you want YOUR legacy to be?
Katy Groesbeck has recently packed up her life on the West Coast for the chance to be a working student with Buck Davidson. Follow her adventures as a part of BDJ Equestrian and with her horse, Wort, as she shares the lessons she learns in 2014! Read all of her blogs.