‘It’s So Nice to Be Able to Give Back’: Meet Volunteer Superstars Katherine & Bruce Hill

Katherine and Bruce Hill. Photo by Shelby Allen.

This sport is nothing without its many fabulous volunteers, and you will be hard pressed to find any more fabulous than than Katherine and Bruce Hill. The brother and sister duo, along with their parents John and Allison, have become regular features in Area VI both riding and volunteering. Let’s meet the Hill family:

Katherine, age 17, explains that her love of horses began in a western saddle before she began riding with Jennifer Wooten and was introduced to eventing. “I grew up on my grandpa’s cattle ranch, so I did a lot of western riding when I was younger. I really wanted to start jumping around age 11, so I started jumping my cow ponies which was always entertaining,” she laughed.

Twin River’s September Horse Trials in 2014 was their first volunteer experience, and their involvement in the sport has grown exponentially since then. “It is so nice to be able to give back and show our appreciation for what everyone else does for us,” Katherine said. Now they frequent many Area VI events including Twin Rivers, Woodside Horse Trials and Fresno Horse Trials. 

All hands on deck to prepare for the jog. Katherine and her dad, John. Photo by Shelby Allen.

In addition to its charitable nature, volunteering and being involved in the sport together also provides valuable time for the Hills. “I think it’s a great experience for us as a family to do together,” said mom, Allison. “To have both kids riding is fabulous. They’re doing the same sport. We’re in the same place on weekends, we can do things together. The community is wonderful – the kids are really kind of grafted in and they really feel like they have their people and there’s a lot of people across the area that they know and they like. This area is fabulous – everyplace we go these people are our friends, so it’s really fun to be able to give back.”

Bruce prepares for Phase A of Endurance Day at Galway Downs. Photo by Shelby Allen.

The Hills have filled many positions, but when Bruce, age 14, can choose, he prefers any jobs that work alongside the course builders. “I’ve done jump judging and flagging and stuff, but I really like working with Louis (Blankenship – course builder) and his guys. There a lot of fun to work with,” he commented. Friday night at Galway Downs Bruce was spotted watering the cross country course with Louis because he wanted to learn how to do it – what a guy!

When they aren’t volunteering, Allison, Katherine and Bruce are competing. This weekend the siblings went head to head bot in the Training Three-Day division at Galway Downs. When asked if there is any sibling rivalry, the entire family was quick to answer with a collective “yes!”

Katherine on Phase D of Endurance Day. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Fortunately, underneath the competitive edge, they remain each other’s biggest supporters. “I was really happy for him on dressage day. He definitely put down his best test at training ever, and I had the honor to stand there and look at my mom and say, ‘he just beat my butt.’” Katherine recounted. “This was the first time we’ve been in the same division together competing since Intro, and I used to beat him all the time, so it’s definitely fair.”

Bruce finishes ninth in the Galway Downs T3D. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Bruce ended up ninth in the competitive T3D with his own Cortina, and Katherine finished 14th aboard her mother’s Stellor Rockafella, who she borrowed last minute as her own horse took a, “self-imposed vacation.” They followed one after another in the show jumping ring, with Katherine going first, and shared a sweet high five as they passed one another. This hardworking family was a pleasure to meet this weekend. From all of us at EN, thanks to John, Allison, Katherine and Bruce for all you do for eventing!

High fives between rounds. Photo by Shelby Allen.