You don’t really toss ponies, do you?

I have been volunteering with the TELUS Battle of the Breeds for four years and was hooked from the moment I stepped inside the competition ring.  My first volunteer role was working as an obstacle judge – there is nothing quite like feeling the breeze as a horse whips past you to the next obstacle.  Our team is responsible for running the entire competition, doing everything from timing to judging obstacles.  And that’s right – we do it all right inside the competition ring rain or shine! This year was more rain than shine and even though we all got soaked, our team spirit and sense of pride was not dampened at all. I’m proud to work alongside a team of dedicated TELUS volunteers and Ambassadors – some of whom began volunteering when Alberta Government Telephones partnered with Spruce Meadows 24 years ago.  Everyone who has the chance to volunteer at this thrilling event can’t wait until next year to do it all over again.


In the TELUS Battle of the Breeds, 12 different horse breeds vie for the title of best breed.  Each four-member team competes in the battle’s five unique events featuring unusual and challenging obstacles such as bunting a gigantic inflated TELUS-branded ball between two posts. The 3-day tournament is comprised of Compulsory Skills, Jeopardy Jumping, Precision Driving, Barrel Racing and Trail Riding – which culminates in one breed winning the TELUS Battle of the Breeds Championship Award. My favourite event is Barrel Racing which is more likely to be seen at the Calgary Stampede than at an international jumping competition. This fast-paced event is exhilarating to watch and keeps our volunteers on their toes!


One of our favourite activities is the ‘pony toss’. After each event, TELUS Volunteers gather around the competition ring and toss ponies into the crowds. No, we don’t toss real ponies but each year TELUS creates a commemorative plush pony that Spruce Meadows fans go crazy for! It’s such a blast seeing everyone with their hands in the air hoping to catch a pony and the look of delight when they nab their special memento of the TELUS Battle of the Breeds.

This year we had over 37 current and retiree volunteers representing TELUS and showing the volunteer spirit we are known for.  I can’t wait until next year!

The TELUS Battle of the Breeds event is part of the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament, the final competition in their summer series.  Check it out on the Spruce Meadows Web site: http://www.sprucemeadows.com/

Richard Milton is a Human Resources Manager at TELUS.