A Story of True Sportsmanship Three Times Over Within Pony Club
By Megan Scharfenberg
USPC Championships is a goal for many Pony Club members because it allows members to exhibit their skills and what they have been tirelessly working on to improve throughout the year. At Championships, competitors participate as a team, and in most disciplines, an unmounted Stable Manager is an important team component. Stable Managers are critical to helping the team stay on time and prepared for all portions of the competition. You can read all about what Stable Managers do in this blog post and also in your Summer 2022 issue of Discover USPC magazine.
Unfortunately, not one, but two modified teams in Dressage at this year’s 2022 USPC Championships East, feared their experiences might come to an abrupt end when both teams lost their Stable Managers, and also a teammate from each team, when they came up ill and were no longer able to compete.
Enter Megan Hopkins of Hanover, Va., to save the day. Megan, a C-2 HM and C+ Eventing member from the Mountain Skyline Pony Club in the Old Dominion Region, wasn’t attending Championships as a participant. Instead, she was attending with her mother, Melissa Hopkins, and both had opted to be volunteers for the event. Megan’s main goal at this year’s Championships was to shadow the organizer and technical delegate for Eventing to get a better understanding of the discipline. Her second priority was to study for her H-B certification, which would take place the weekend following USPC Championships East.
Initially, Megan was approached and asked if she could be the Stable Manager for one of the modified teams, she was initially hesitant. It is not easy to just step into the position at the last minute onsite. With encouragement from her mom and other Championships volunteers, Megan agreed to take on the role, but she jumped at the chance to not just help the one team, but to help both teams. “When I realized both teams were on the same barn aisle and only three-person teams, I knew I needed to be a Stable Manager for both,” she said.
She then went above and beyond to help her teams and ensure everyone was not only able to compete in Championships, but she also shared her hard-earned knowledge with the members. Megan offered the members guidance on cleaning tack and numerous grooming tips to ensure that her teammates all stood out during their turnout inspections.
As the Championships came to a close on the last day, Megan heard that there was another team that lost a member as well as their Stable Manager and was worried about no longer being able to compete. Without prompting, Megan stepped into the Stable Manager position for a third modified team.
Cindy Medina, Co-Chief Horse Management Judge for Dressage at USPC Championships East, notes that the second situation involved a modified team with a rider needing extra accommodations. “That didn’t stop Megan,” she said. “She went from one end of the barn to the other to make sure that both teams had help when they needed it and kept both teams on track and on time. She was amazing. Megan stepped up and went above and beyond.”
Megan reflected on the experience at the end of Championships. “Realizing it would make a hugely positive experience for these teams to have a Stable Manager at their first Championships, I knew it was the right decision, and in hindsight, was probably a better Championships than I could have ever had!” she said.
To honor the tremendous display of sportsmanship, Megan was awarded the inaugural Stubben Sportsmanship Award, generously initiated by longtime Pony Club volunteer Ric Sutton, an official Stubben representative. This award was presented to one individual who exemplified superior sportsmanship at the 2022 USPC Championships East.
We commend Megan for the selfless sportsmanship she exhibited during USPC Championships East. She truly exemplifies what it means to be a Pony Club member and to not only use your knowledge to work towards a higher level of learning but to also share your knowledge with others. To top it all off, Megan earned her H-B HM and C-3 Eventing certifications on August 7.