March 2017 - Very Important People
Written by Kim F. Miller
Monday, 27 February 2017 23:53
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Eventing Volunteers are VIPs indeed!

"It just felt kind of natural,” says Don Trotter of the decision for Sunsprite Warmbloods to sign on as the presenting sponsor of the US Eventing Association’s new Volunteer Incentive Program. In development over the past year and in response to the increasing challenge of staffing three-phase eventing competitions, VIP launched this year with much enthusiasm. Don and Pamela Duffy, owners of the Temecula sporthorse breeding program, Sunsprite Warmbloods, continue their huge support for eventing by being among those to lead the charge.

Don Trotter. Photo: Sherry Stewart

Maureen Lewis, right, scribes while Robin Fisher judges at an event at Copper Meadows in Ramona.

Through a website,, and a phone app, organizers can recruit workers and volunteers can sign-up. The program keeps track of the hours they’ve spent over the course of the year and maintains a leaderboard of volunteers, nationally and by each of US Eventing’s Areas. (California and Hawaii comprise USEA’s Area VI.)

Like a lot of people, Don volunteers for the pure fun of it because he adores the sport and the people who pursue it. Over the course of his career, “I’ve spent a lot of time at the United Nations (as a scientist), but none of them had the character of the people on the eventing scene.”

The VIP program enhances the fun factor with “incentives,” most provided by sponsors including California companies and longtime Area VI supporters Fleeceworks and Professional’s Choice.  “I think when potential volunteers see how this works and all the rewards at the end of the rainbow, it’s going to be great!” Don enthuses. Saddle and tack manufacturers are among other companies already on board to provide perks and prizes.

The program welcomes everybody. Thanks to the multitude of tasks required to stage dressage, cross-country and show jumping, eventing competitions have plenty of jobs even for those with little or no experience. Don especially hopes that parents will jump on the opportunity to learn more about their kids’ chosen sport.

“There’s a wealth of knowledge out there and you can really garner a neat understanding of the sport by watching it up close. Volunteers have a front row seat,” he says. “As a parent looking to get that great picture of your child, what better vantage point than being a jump judge?”

Ryan Seitz and Laura Jaeger-Seitz.

Volunteering is just one way Sunsprite Warmbloods’ Don Trotter and Pam Duffy support their favorite equestrian sport: eventing.

Don is a veteran volunteer. The USEA honored him with the Governors Cup in 2015 and Area VI recognized him formally for his work in 2012. He’s well-known throughout the state as a ring steward, but says that every job has its joys. Outgoing people are good fits for hospitality posts and those seeking peace and quiet might like the solo work of jump judging. Or there’s being on “Gunga Din Duty” – jumping on an ATV and taking water out to people in the venue’s far nooks and crannies.

“It’s very rewarding work,” Don concludes.

-by Kim F Miller

Julie Murray, Shelby Murray, Sedona Murray, Jill Posada, Gabe Carbajal, Carol Christiansen, Nancy Chamberlain.

Jamie Carbajal, Dana Carbajal, Annette Saenz, Sierra Saenz.

Michael Murray, Scott Dewald, Peyton Hayatian.

Gail Ruftu, Kaley Saper, Lauren Hayatian, Cassie Pielow.

Zoe Autry, Mimi Black, Nana Black, Margie Davis.