Paige Dolon: Shining Star Award Winner


Offered by the National Youth Programs Committee, the USDF Shining Star award recognizes outstanding sportsmanship by youth. Here, meet Paige Dolon, a Shining Star recipient from Region 1.

I received this award not knowing I had done something special. I had been nominated by my trainer, Natasha Rutherford, for something I thought was no big deal. I just did what I thought was right and would have appreciated had someone done it for me. Our barn was planning to go to the Lendon Gray Youth Dressage Festival. My friend, Allecia, had just started her young horse, but he wasn’t ready to go to this large of a show. Knowing this, and that she was soon going to age out of being a youth competitor, I offered her my mare, Ginger. Ginger and I were actively working on earning my USDF Bronze Medal. I was planning to ride my young horse, JD; this was just his first show season.

A few weeks before, at the USDF Region 1 Youth Dressage Team Challenge, my friend Madison M’s lease horse came up lame. I had offered for her to also ride Ginger at both shows and had this plan for weeks. The weekend before the Lendon Gray Youth Dressage Festival, I was at a local recognized show with another member from my barn named Madison P. I was working on getting my last USDF Bronze Medal score with Ginger, as well as a qualifying score for the Great American/USDF Regional Championships with JD. Madison P was also working to earn a qualifying score for the Great American/USDF Regional Championships when her horse had come up lame.

As she went back to the trailer to get untacked, my trainer Natasha, my mom, and I were waiting for my second test to start, while thinking of anyone who may possibly have a horse to share for this show. A few minutes with no ideas, I said without thinking, “she can ride JD… I don’t know how he’ll be, but he’s been good at shows so far.” Natasha started crying, which led to me bursting into tears. We quickly changed the plan, deciding to have Allecia and I ride JD, having both had young horses, and for both Madison M. and Madison P. to ride Ginger. After my ride, we had gotten back to the trailer and proposed the idea to Madison P. and her mom Jenn. Everyone was super happy with the idea! Just a few days later, at the Dressage Festival, Madison M. came in second overall, I came in third overall, and Allecia came in fifth overall, in the 18-25 Training Level age bracket. Madison P. came in fourth overall, in the 12-14 Training Level bracket. Our barn had a wonderful time at the show supporting each other and enjoying time together and with our horses!

I have learned from this award that people recognize the little things you do, those things you think are unimportant. The best part of receiving this award is being recognized for being kind and receiving one of the Ravel Education Grants. This grant has allowed me the opportunity to learn and ride in various clinics with a variety of clinicians, each identifying different things to work on and improve. If you would like to be nominated for USDF’s Shining Star Award, I would suggest being kind, but not for the sake of being nominated. Sharing horses and watching others succeed on them is an honor in and of itself; being generous and supportive never goes unnoticed in this sport.

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