By Sarah E Coleman
MSEDA members give back to their equine communities in a number of ways, including scribing, stewarding, working with show secretaries and more. Some MSEDA members are lucky enough to volunteer at some of the biggest events in the country, including “The Best Weekend All Year:” The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. Find out what integral roles three MSEDA members play to keep the event running smoothly.
Erin Woodall: Chief of Saturday Cross-Country Groom Shuttle
Erin Woodall has been involved with Rolex for the past 20 years, 10 years as a driver for the shuttle and 10 years as the Chief of the Groom’s Shuttle. Erin had been involved in various volunteer roles with Rolex before becoming a shuttle driver. On how she got such an interesting volunteer role, Erin explains “Judi Tudor … put me in a truck and said ‘drive!’”
As Saturday is one of the busiest days of the show for riders, grooms and owners, shuttle drivers provide transportation from the vet box and back for both the people and all the equipment necessary for a competitor in the vet box.
Erin thinks that talking with the riders, grooms and owners is the best perk of her job at Rolex. The people she shuttles have a range of emotions from excitement, deflation and elation, depending on how their rider/horse goes. “Everyone is so appreciative of our group donating our time and use of our personal vehicles,” she says. “The groom shuttle team has grown to be a family who have our reunion at Rolex each year.”
The hardest part of the shuttling job, Erin says, is “not expanding the Groom Shuttle force to 50! I have so many offers from people who want to help, but our crew keeps coming back year after year, and openings are few and far between.” What a great problem to have!
Mary Fike: Stable Manager
Mary Fike has been the Stable Manager at Rolex for the last 34 years. She stepped into the role when Edith Conyers, executive director of Rolex from 1976 to 1985, asked her to be the stable manager after TDing Mary’s Painted Stone Horse Trial in 1982.
The role of stable manager includes a lot of moving parts, not the least of which includes stall assignments and stable credentials. Another main responsibility of the stable manager is to act as a liaison between competition management and the competitors and owners to ensure they have the best Rolex they can. Mary works very closely with Vanessa Coleman, the Competition Manager of Rolex, because her office has become the Show Office for the competitors. Another way Mary keeps competitors happy? “We have the best coffee and donuts for them every morning!”
Mary says that the best part of being Stable Manger is helping the horses and riders. “We have the live feed in the office, and that’s where they come to watch—unless they’re out on the field of play. I get to be part of their ‘talking shop,’ and for the past few years, Sally O’Connor has watched the Saturday cross-country in my office. It’s been wonderful to be able to have her commentary live!”
The hardest part of the Stable Manager’s role is having to say no, she says. People in the office have to act as the intermediary with people who want to get into the barns “just because.” Over the years, Mary has come to know most of the people and can usually tell when someone has a real reason to go into the barns. “Occasionally we get someone who is rude or unpleasant, but not often,” she says.
This year, Mary was featured on the USEF Network! Click here to watch the video on Facebook.
Megan Carr: Vet Box
Megan Carr has been running the End of Phase D/Vet Box at Rolex since 2011. The vet box is a very busy place to be. Once the horses come off cross country, they’re examined by a group of international vets (this year it was Drs. Catherine Kohn, Karen Nyrop, Duncan Peters and Jennifer Miller). Megan is responsible for providing six vet scribes, in two shifts, for the vets to record all the horse’s vitals. Also in the box is a competitor hospitality tent, logistics (which includes ice and water for the horses) and security (since this is a high-activity area, only people with the proper credentials are allowed in)—that’s a lot to coordinate!
“The best part of this role is the amazing crew I have gained over the past six years! This year went off almost without a hitch, and it’s really because I have a crew who work so well together and is so efficient.” The hardest part of her role is problem solving, Megan explains. “There is a lot that can be planned ahead of time, but there are always things that pop up. One year, we had zero electricity, so we had no coffee, which people where not happy about! Some things just can’t be planned for. Also, for the past two years: THE WEATHER!”
Volunteering is a wonderful way to give back to the sport, and there are many exciting volunteer opportunities at Rolex. Getting to see the behind-the-scenes workings of the only four-star event in North America is an added bonus! If you’re interested in volunteering, it’s helpful to speak with someone who already volunteers, or click here for more information: http://rk3de.org/competition/returning-volunteer-login/