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A Small Spectator Rant

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    A Small Spectator Rant

    I set out on Saturday morning to watch at the only recognized event in my immediate area. I was enjoying myself until I got yelled at.

    Here's the deal: spectators must cross the course at two points in order to reach the prime viewing area atop a hill, between the bank and the water complex. Instead of posting two "crossing stewards" to calmly and politely help people cross the course, there was nobody at the critical crossings. Spectators would start to venture out, then a couple of nearby jump judges would yell either "HURRY! HURRY!" or "STOP! GO BACK! RIGHT NOW!" Sometimes the jump judge would yell one thing and their friend sitting with them would yell the opposite. Panicked spectators would then simply freeze as the horses galloped ever closer.

    Despite my best efforts at caution, I stepped out when a horse was coming (about 30 yards away; nothing bad happened) and I got SCREAMED at. Another woman that I spoke with that day told me, only half joking, that she had been "traumatized" by being yelled at.

    Shouldn't eventing, as a sport, be encouraging spectators rather than repelling them? Isn't eventing elitist enough without browbeating the few spectators that they do get? Or does it exist only for the competitors? Maybe I'm misinformed.

    I doubt I will be going back again.

    How do other events handle this type of situation? Is the layout just unique at this event? Do spectators matter at all? I'd really like to know.

    Okay, rant over. Thanks for listening.

    #2
    Jump judges are volunteers -- they are doing the best they can to keep everyone safe. Their concern is for your safety, the approaching horse's safety and the rider's safety... they are less concerned about being politically correct in light of a possible crash and frankly I'm ok with that.

    Perhaps they were short volunteers and couldn't post someone there. Perhaps if you could help resolve the issue by volunteering next time.
    ************
    "Of course it's hard. It's supposed to be hard. It's the Hard that makes it great."

    "Get up... Get out... Get Drunk. Repeat as needed." -- Spike

    Comment


      #3
      Sorry you got yelled at, I'm sure the jump judge, given the combination job of watching the riders jump (or not!) and playing traffic cop, was stressed. That said, I'm one of those who can often be in my own world when walking about, and while I would look for oncoming horses, I'd be ok if someone hollered at me for getting in the way if I was at risk.

      As far as how other places have handled it, I have nearly galloped over a few people doing last minute course walks ("Heads up blue shirt!). I have also been at places where they roped areas off, whistled (coach's whistle), yelled, and/or done nothing. It varies on the event.

      I don't think you should let a single bad moment ruin spectating. Like TLE said - perhaps volunteer! Then you can be seated and watch a whole bunch of riders go!

      Comment

        Original Poster

        #4
        tle: I have volunteered at this event in the past. They got a new volunteer coordinator who has her own "people" and wasn't interested in using previous volunteers.

        Some of the people trying to cross the course were kids, so there is a bit of a safety/liability issue going on.

        Should all spectators at events go with the thought of being pressed into service as volunteers? Should nobody expect to simply spectate then?

        I think I'll just stay home from now on.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by tle View Post
          Jump judges are volunteers -- they are doing the best they can to keep everyone safe. Their concern is for your safety, the approaching horse's safety and the rider's safety... they are less concerned about being politically correct in light of a possible crash and frankly I'm ok with that.

          Perhaps they were short volunteers and couldn't post someone there. Perhaps if you could help resolve the issue by volunteering next time.
          Well said tle. This year, I've seen problems where there is a lack of volunteers. At Rubicon, at times, several fence judges had to cover 2 or 3 fences each. Not the best thing to have to do. There also seemed to be a wealth of idjits on the course that day. One woman actually popped her umbrella open, and propped herself in the line of fences after the water complex. Hello?? How about get the hell out of the way and an umbrella? Really? Yeah, she got screamed at.

          OP, I'm sorry you got yelled at, and hope you do decide to volunteer, it's really fun and you can learn a lot about approaches to your fence.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Druid Acres View Post
            tle: I have volunteered at this event in the past. They got a new volunteer coordinator who has her own "people" and wasn't interested in using previous volunteers.

            Some of the people trying to cross the course were kids, so there is a bit of a safety/liability issue going on.

            Should all spectators at events go with the thought of being pressed into service as volunteers? Should nobody expect to simply spectate then?

            I think I'll just stay home from now on.
            I think we were all typing at the same time.

            If you've volunteered before, then you should understand the spectator issues on course.

            No, spectators shouldn't be expected to be pressed into service, but they should be aware of their surroundings while on course.

            Perhaps you could have let the management know you were concerned about crossing safety?

            Sorry, but your comments about the new management and lack of interest in previous volunteers sounds like sour grapes.

            Comment

              Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by TimelyImpulse View Post
              There also seemed to be a wealth of idjits on the course that day.
              Thank you, that answers my question. Eventing does indeed exist only for the riders then.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Druid Acres View Post
                Thank you, that answers my question. Eventing does indeed exist only for the riders then.
                Soooooo.....

                You would rather that the newbies and completely unhorsey be able to do what ever, possibly putting horses and riders in danger, so that they can have a "day in the park"?

                Sometimes when I see spectators at events doing thing like Timely Impulse described I am reminded of that age where it was considered appropriate to some to "spectate" at a battle field, picnics and all. What a lovely idea for an outing. Of course, sometimes they all ended up amongst the carnage.

                Volunteers at events are over worked and unpaid. Their job is to keep the horses and riders and spectators safe while keeping the event running smoothly. If feelings get hurt but everyone is otherwise unharmed, I can live with that. It's far better than some alternatives we can all think of.

                P.S. I was at an event once where a spectator family came. I was off grazing my green and frazzled horse away from the commotion of the stabling area before he became completely unhinged. Family's young daughter apparently decided that wandering UNDER my horse's belly to pet him seemed fun. She was very lucky that he jumped away from her instead of onto her.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Druid Acres View Post
                  Thank you, that answers my question. Eventing does indeed exist only for the riders then.
                  To clarify, that particular idjit was also a competitor, so there are idjit riders too.

                  Not sure why you're making the leap to eventing existing only for the riders, but, did something else happen to make you so mad?

                  Comment

                    Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by TimelyImpulse View Post
                    ... did something else happen to make you so mad?
                    No, nothing else happened. I was having fun up until a certain point.

                    I've been spectating (and volunteering, I might add) at horse-related functions for many, many years and this was the first time somebody screamed at me. It just caught me off guard, that's all.

                    And I warned you all that I was ranting.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      sounds like you really don't expect answers to your questions and have your mind made up. Sad, but it doesn't sound like anything we say outside hearty cheerleading for your "cause" is going to change your mind.
                      ************
                      "Of course it's hard. It's supposed to be hard. It's the Hard that makes it great."

                      "Get up... Get out... Get Drunk. Repeat as needed." -- Spike

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I am going to take the unpopular side on this one...

                        I've volunteered quite a bit in Area IV and as a rider I find it frusterating how unpolite volunteers can be on XC. I get that they are not paid, that there is a lack of them, etc, etc. However, I think there is a way to communicate urgency without being rude and a few words after the harsh words can go a long way.

                        Let me follow this up by saying that when I compete I thank volunteers any chance I get...bit check, start box, jump judges, ring stewards. They sometimes looked shocked but I get that they the life blood of the sport.

                        As someone who wants to see our sport grow, we need to find a way to welcome spectators AND keep them safe without scaring them away. Although the original poster may not have gone about it in the correct way, I can see her viewpoint.

                        Comment

                          Original Poster

                          #13
                          I'm not expecting any cheerleading, and I don't want spectators to "do whatever" either. Quite the opposite.

                          To quote HalfHalt: "As someone who wants to see our sport grow, we need to find a way to welcome spectators AND keep them safe without scaring them away."

                          Thank you, that's what I was trying to get at.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            I jumped judged for 17 years on XC in the Virginia/MD area. I gave it up when I had to start judging multiple fences at the same time and then read on forums like this that eventers were too busy with their competition schedules to volunteer. It seems the volunteer situation just keeps getting worse.

                            The worst people for being in the way on courses are actually eventers and coaches. I'd have groups come walking along and I'd give them a heads up that there was a horse coming. They would say thanks and keep walking. Then they would almost get run over by the rider coming along on the horse they were warned about.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              25 years ago, as I came around a corner on my horse's first Novice course, we came upon 3 women in floppy beach hats flapping their programs around, IN THE MIDDLE of the track. My youngster came to an immediate halt. I sailed over his head and fell on my a$$. I got back on and completed but those women had no right to be where they were.

                              This past Saturday, the same exact scenario happened to a friend of mine.

                              Spectators MUST be aware of their surroundings, of how much time has passed since the last horse went past them and if they are in a safe place for the next horse to go by and not be spooked. I am all for spectators. They help keep Eventing alive but for Godssake, pay attention and stay the he!! out of the WAY!
                              Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.

                              Comment


                                #16
                                Honestly, I don't see what the big deal is. So you got screamed at. You weren't hit or spit on or escorted off the course.

                                I was just at Pony Club Championships East chaperoning a young quiz team. During a break in their competition schedule we all went out to watch cross country. Novice ended, so we began walking back as the jump judges were moving to start beginner novice. There were no horses on course, and wouldn't be for several minutes. My kids were walking up the finish line as it was the shortest route back to the barns. A volunteer rushed out and screamed, "Get out of the way! You're going to be run over!" Well, they weren't--there were no horses left to run them over, and I'd made sure of that before we started walking.

                                How did we respond? I moved the kids to the side and told them not to worry about it. Yep, the screamer was incorrect; yep, she was nasty. She was also one person, a volunteer, and certainly had our best interests and the best interests of the riders at heart. So who cares? Life's too short to get your knickers in a twist. My kids did much better with being told "whatever, don't worry about it," than they would have if I'd let them get all upset about somebody being mean to them.

                                Comment

                                  Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  It's true, there were no collisions, no horses stopping for ladies in big hats and ejecting their riders. It wasn't the end of the world.

                                  My point is that lots of people were getting yelled at ALL DAY LONG and that doesn't do much to promote eventing as a sport.

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    Eventing IS for the riders. Riders pay $200 for a sinlge run with each horse they enter. For that money, they expect a safe place to ride. The TD and organizers spend tons of time and money perfecting the course to that end - and once the rider goes out on course, there is an expectation of having a clear track to run on, for safety and to give the horse a good experience. I have seen spectators walking around on courses in the way of riders many times. This can cause a horse/rider to have a stop or bad jump or time, affecting placing or even worse, causing injury or a bad experience. As a rider, I have yelled "heads up!" a few times to people on the ground in my way - and thanked them as I galloped past - just trying to make sure that I had a clear path to my jump. As a volunteer, I have had to yell at people on the ground more than a few times. I try to be polite, but when there is a horse approaching or the people are far away, sometimes I just have to get the message across as quickly as possible.

                                    Many/most spectators, family members, and course walkers manage to be out on the XC course without incident every weekend. Please realize that volunteers are not trying to be rude, just keep the course safe for the riders - who paid a lot of money to compete.

                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      It would be far more valuable if you submitted an event evaluation (it is perfectly acceptable and desirable for spectators to do so)

                                      You might make recommendations such as:
                                      1) Consider including in the jump judge briefing information on exactly how to keep spectators out of the way and/or providing jump judges with a map marked with where a horse should be in relation to the fence, so that you should yell "clear the course" or "heads up"

                                      2) Consider additional roping at (here insert the problem spots if roping would help)

                                      3) Consider addition of crossing guards at (here insert the problem spots)

                                      These would all be taken into consideration by the organizers and the TD for the future. A new volunteer coordinator may not be fully aware of all these issues.

                                      The rule I try to stick with is "If I raise a complaint, I must also propose a solution"
                                      OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!

                                      Comment


                                        #20
                                        How do you know the jump judge in question didn't ask you 3 times in a nice way and you didn't hear the request until they started shouting?

                                        I know when I'm course and I see someone up ahead I yell "head's up" as soon as I see them - because I want them to be out of my way pronto, not wait until I get close. Amazing the number of times that gets me NO RESPONSE - they don't turn around, they don't move off to the side. I don't know if they didn't hear me or they chose to ignore me. So I say it again, as I get closer, and maybe would like to be concentrating on the next fence, and not getting people out of the way.

                                        When I have to say something 3rd time I'm pissed and yelling -because now I've got to be pretty close to them and they are still not appearing to notice and I've asked nicely twice.

                                        When I am told by a jump judge or rider to get out of the way, I look at them to acknowledge I've heard and get out of the way as fast as possible. Even if I don't think the horse is close enough. They asked, I did what they asked. They don't know that I am an experienced competitor and not someone out on course for the first time.

                                        If you were watching golf and really wanted to see Tiger Woods does that give you the right to walk on the green while the other guys come through? Does that make golf "only for the golfers"?"

                                        I can see that if there was a specific spot where you had to cross and it could be hard to see who's coming, that having a steward to help people across would be a good idea.

                                        Were they angry and cranky or just louder than you would have liked?

                                        Comment

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