Horse shows NEED volunteers to function. I could end this right here with that simple statement. It’s true. It’s concise. But as a volunteer coordinator for one of the few farms in SW Georgia large enough to hold a horse trial almost every month (including a semi-annual 3* event) recognized dressage shows and a schooling show almost every other available weekend, I KNOW saying (begging, pleading, incentivizing) we NEED you is not enough. We are short on volunteers almost every show. This literally makes me cry a couple times a year. And i’m not a pretty crier.
Horse shows are expensive (“duh” statement #2) Not just to compete in, but to put on. NO ONE is getting rich off of this, guys. One way facilities and shows counter act their expenses is to ask (beg, plead, incentivize) for volunteers. Sure, the jobs that take a judges card , or training courses are paid positions, but EVERYONE ELSE YOU SEE is a volunteer. Let me list them really quickly for you for a Horse Trial, since that’s the most encompassing:
- Dressage warm-up steward
- Do you want to check your watch every 2 min while warming up your dragon? I didn’t think so
- Dressage in-gate
- ‘Which ring am i in? It’s test “A”, right?’
- Bit/spur/bonnet check
- IDK why anyone wares a bonnet for dressage. There are no bugs in that ring and we’re just going to make you take it off
- Let me just tell you how sick I am of looking for scribes. I’m still not quite sure why there’s not a literal waiting list for this position. The ONLY good thing about no one wanting the job is that I GET to have that job.
- Cross Country warm up steward
- again with the watch checking, which you have set to your xc OT, so it’s not doing you much good in this department
- Cross Country Start (have a great ride!)
- Cross Country Finish (well done!)
- Cross Country Jump Judges
- We seriously need 12-18 people for this. Watching 3 fences simultaneously as the course loops back to a vantage point is only possible for someone who has harnessed their ADD powers for good. And when the course doesn’t lend itself to that, we chase you in the quad or gator. Because unless we’re implementing and following an honesty policy, we need to make sure you jump all the things.
- Show jumping warm up steward
- “So, I have 3 horses in this division and they’re placed 2nd,5th&6th. can I maybe go early with the first one and late with the last one so I can warm them up? You’ll keep track of all that an let me know when I’m 5 away and 2 away, right?”
- Show jumping in-gate.
- “In gate to announcer. I know your sheet says #86 is going at 2:45, but there’s a conflict and she’s going at noon. OK thanks.
- Show jumping crew – Options without these people:
- start leaves their post to fix every fence the over-horsed person in front of you crashed, meaning we’re getting behind in the schedule, which means it’s now interfering with your xc ride on another horse or coaching a student or taking sale pictures for your friend in dressage
- The judge is picking up poles. see above about how this delays the day, and it irritates the judge.
- You get off and fix your own course before you start, because someone has to do it. Or not and you’re dodging “ground poles”
- Score runner, because you want to see where you are before 7PM on Sunday, right?
This is for ONE WEEKEND. Can you imagine what your entry would be if we paid all these people? And you think horse showing is expensive now.
The final thing you may not realize, is that my hands as a coordinator are tied as to how much I can offer to make you want to do this (because the reasons above aren’t enough and you don’t want to help out your fellow competitors/sport – really need a sarcasm font here). We give vouchers. Vouchers you can use to pay an ENTIRE show entry with. Vouchers that let you come XC school for nothing. We also give lunch, drinks and snacks. We give you all this, for a few hours of your time. Hours you’re at the facility anyway. We will absolutely work around ride times or cover for you. How an we cover you when want to run over and watch your kid jump the water complex instead of the train carts your stationed at. WE GET IT and will make that happen.
Guys, we understand volunteer fatigue. We understand you want a weekend for the beach or to show (I show too. I get it) or to lay around and do nothing or go hiking or stand on your head. But if everyone (hell, if MORE people) would volunteer, we wouldn’t be so desperate and the shows would go that much more smoothly.
To wrap this up, I do want to say thank you to the teenagers and parents and kids and husbands and boyfriends who come almost every weekend and do these jobs. A few of which are very new at this this and have been stellar. Volunteers who get berated by competitors who are stressed about their rides then are too busy to come apologize later or volunteer themselves. You guys, there are about 12 of you (12! did the rest of you read how many people this takes?!), make this sport happen and ensure we can keep shows of all levels in our area. Thank you.