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Why not? A question for those who do NOT volunteer...

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  • Why not? A question for those who do NOT volunteer...

    For those of you who do NOT volunteer at an event where you are "only" riding one horse...why not?

    I'm not talking about those who are coaching, or riding multiple horses, etc.

    Background: This past weekend I had the wonderful experience of going to an event with JUST my own horse. No one to coach or help, just ME - a totally selfish experience

    I was fascinated by those riders who had "just" one horse, and moaned about all the waiting, but were content to just sit and wait.

    So for those of you who don't, why? Do blanket announcements of "we need volunteers " not resonate with you? Are you worried that you do not have the skills necessary? Do you feel that, having paid your entry, you have given enough?

    (for the record, I scribed for a vet for the **/* horses xc, scribed for dressage, fence judged, and was a ring steward - and still had MORE than enough time to enjoy and ride my own horse).

  • #2
    Flight Check I adore you and good luck getting answers. I asked this over and over a while back and I was met with more excuses for why a person "didn't have time to volunteer" than any actual answers.

    The fact is that most people have time, they just refuse to share it. It's more fun to sit with your friends and come off the adrenaline high effusing about yourself. What the ironic part is that if you and 1 friend jumped up together and fence judged, you'd likely learn more in an afternoon from your xc round and the 200+ you're watching, than from yours alone.

    But people don't automatically get that. And I have seen a lot of selfish "All about me" folks jump into the event world of late.

    I volunteer here and there when I can and I haven't competed since 2007. I ask others to consider doing it too, but the excuses come out so I just go and do, so at least I walk the walk.

    "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries


    • #3
      Flight Check,

      Kudos!! I always try to volunteer at several events each year. I can usually fit in volunteering and riding at Hagyard Midsouth Team Challenge because of the way that it is set up.

      Since, after what happened to me last summer, my DH is not going to let me ride in the hot summer events at the KHP, I will be able to volunteer at some of those. My favorite job is penny taker/water girl.

      If you want to be in the running for year end awards, MSEDA requires volunteer hours. There are quite a few people who ask others for their extra hours, instead of volunteering themselves. They are missing out on a great opportunity to give back to our sport and get to meet some wonderful eventers.

      However, I do not believe that I could do all that you did at your event and still have enough energy to ride. I am working on my fitness, but am not quite to your level, yet.
      When in Doubt, let your horse do the Thinking!


      • #4
        It depends on the event and location. Most events that I have just one horse....there is no waiting around. You trailer in, walk the course (really run the course) do dressage, quickly change tack...maybe walk the part of the course you couldn't get to before dressage, jump, run xc, cool horse out and then trailer home (usually a couple of hours away). I prefer not to have my horse standing on the trailer for the rest of the day.

        I have volunteered for the event very close to my home where I could trailer home and come back to help out at the event easily.

        At events further from home--I'm usually working (bill paying kind of work) if I have a lot of down time or helping someone else. But it isn't hard to volunteer and I have and I do know many people who DO step up. I think those who have volunteered a lot before are more comfortable to step up as they know what the volunteering involves.
        ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


        • #5
          Around here I rarely spend much time waiting! Usually I walk the courses, do my dressage test, walk the xc course again, watch a few stadiums, sj, and go xc.

          I rarely spend more than 4 hours at an event if I am competing (plus 1-2 hours travel each way). There is a limit to how long my horse can be trusted to stand in the trailer by himself if we aren't moving--I am not sure I would be comfortable leaving him for 3-4+ hours even with hay and water.

          Plus, realistically, I work on a farm. Just because it's a weekend, it doesn't mean the horses don't have to be fed, mucked, etc. If I am competing or volunteering, it means that my dad is stuck doing two people's work, which makes me really popular.

          This is not to say I don't volunteer--I jump judged, stuffed packets, and did the year end awards points for MCTA last year--but it's not as easy as just sticking around at the event for the afternoon.


          • #6
            I volunteer more than I compete, so maybe I’m not your audience, but here’s my point of view on why I won’t volunteer while I’m competing. There are three main reasons.

            1. I do not have the mental energy. I am a nervous shower and need to walk my course several times, make sure I am eating properly (I don’t) etc.

            2. Most HTs around here require you to commit to a full or half day. Even “just riding one horse” it’s rare that I’m actually done in a half day. If I have 4 hours between dressage and jumping, maybe I would be fine with scribing for a bit, but it seems event secretaries/volunteer coordinators (who are often volunteers themselves) don’t want or need the hassle of having to piecemeal volunteer hours out of our ride times.

            3. My horse, who works hard for me, comes first when I am competing. When I am done, I’m cleaning him up, poulticing and taking him home. I won’t leave him standing on a trailer while I volunteer. It’s a non-starter for me.

            So that’s my POV. But I feel my karma is in balance because I volunteer easily 2x as much as I compete.


            • Original Poster

              I was more referring to the 2 or 3 day shows...I understand if you trailer in/out, or do a 1 day


              • #8
                I have had enough volunteer coordinators say that they can't use my help for 2 hours or that they can't give me a 15 minute break to check on my horse that I usually only volunteer if the announcemnts explicitly say "even if you can only help for an hour or two" or if I know the organizer/volunteer coordinator.

                When I am volunteer coordinator, I get with the secretary early and offer riders who volunteer for a half day preferential rides times to the extent possible within divisions
                OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!


                • #9
                  Good post!

                  I'll bite...

                  First.. I would love to, and should, volunteer more than I do. However... I have my "excuses". I work every other weekend... so that means I only have every other weekend to show. Granted I cannot afford that.. and wouldn't nec. anyways, but.. I also only have every other weekend available to do stuff such as lessons with my trainer that works a day job, XC schoolings, as well as fun hubby stuff, farm chores, etc. So... if I'm not showing, taking the weekend off to volunteer doesn't always work. But I do try to do my share. I think it'll be easier once the husbands schedule changes because right now.. we pretty much are only ever off together every other weekend.

                  As far as volunteering at shows.... Yes... I should. And I will make an effort to do it more. But.. I agree with Ceigo Star.. I don't have a groom, often don't have help, so... Fleck is relying on me.... If I volunteer I'm not hand walking him as much. And he's usually out 24/7 so stalling him at horse shows ... I like to walk him... a lot. Also.. I'm nervous, flustered and already feel like a chicken with my head cut off. BUT... I would love to volunteer after my rides are over and my horse is settled. I just hate to commit until the day of because what if I still have tack to clean, courses to walk.. and as it is... I tend to be the last one ready for dinner and bed anyways

                  But... good point... I will make more of an effort! Thank you for the reminder....

                  And THANK YOU to the volunteers and organizers! I do always thank everyone


                  • #10
                    Well last summer was my first summer back in the sport and my first time as an ADULT!

                    To be honest, and I'm embarrassed to admit this, I never even considered volunteering. I just ASSumed that things were generally taken care of... and if there were announcements otherwise I truly didn't hear them.

                    Thinking about it now, though, I would love to help out in some way, but my concerns would be these...

                    1. Having volunteered at other horse shows, (not events), the volunteers often get taken advantage of even to the detriment of their own rides (if they are riding a horse). I take a long time to get ready, to get "in the zone" and a long time fiddling around with prep. I'm a bit type A like that. So I would be worried that I would not have the time I need between volunteering and getting ready. This may really never happen, but I would worry!

                    2. Not having the skills necessary. I don't know that I know enough to jump judge (although I would LOVE to learn), but I could probably do other things.

                    3. My husband is there for me to entertain.. but maybe I could put him to work too!

                    So in short, if I knew that I would have the time to do the things I need to do to physically and mentally prepare for my ride, and had the skills, and had something for DH to do, then yeah, I"d volunteer. And you can bet that I'll be keeping my eyes and ears open for oppurtunities if I get to any events this summer!


                    • #11
                      I can't imagine trying to volunteer at an event where I am alone with my horse. Nor can I believe that people are moaning about to much time waiting? Really?

                      Whenever I've evented alone with my horse I've always been busier than a one armed wallpaper hanger! I have to be careful not to drink too much water, because I don't have time to pee. I can assure you I am not standing around complaining I have too much time on my hands.

                      I can only assume you are talking about longer events with stabling, not hauling in for the day and leaving your horse standing on the trailer whilst you do some useful job long enough to be useful?

                      When I do event, my number one priority is the comfort, proper preparation, and the careful coldown/clean up/put up of my horse. Next is to attend to myself to the extent that I can properly carry out priority number one and get her home safely and quickly so she can rest.

                      If it were a multiday event and she had a stall, there would be plenty of time. Then I would most certainly volunteer. But we don't have many of those any more. No one is happier to see a roving, ad hoc volunteer than the jump judges and scribes.

                      The above post is an opinion, just an opinion. If it were a real live fact it would include supporting links to websites full of people who already agreed with me.



                      • #12
                        I volunteer, OR I ride.

                        I don't do both at the same event.

                        When I am competing, I need to focus on me and my horse. If I try to volunteer as well, I do a lousy job of both volunteering and riding.

                        Between arriving, checking in, walking the course, grooming, tacking up, untacking, riding (including warming up and cooling off), and keeping myself hydrated etc., there is usually not more than an hour "block" for volunteering. I am also not comfortable leaving the horse unattended at the trailer for extended periods of time.

                        That being said, I often help with resetting the show jumping course if that happens during a time when I am free.

                        This all refers to "all phases in one day".

                        If the phases are spread over multiple days, I try to get the horse back home again as soon as possible after we finish a phase. (I have not stabled at an event since the early 90s)

                        If I have to wait around for final results to be posted, I will ask if there is anything I can do, but there rarely is at that point.

                        chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by FLeckenAwesome View Post
                          Good post!
                          I don't have a groom, often don't have help, so... Fleck is relying on me.... If I volunteer I'm not hand walking him as much. And he's usually out 24/7 so stalling him at horse shows ... I like to walk him... a lot. Also.. I'm nervous, flustered and already feel like a chicken with my head cut off. BUT... I would love to volunteer after my rides are over and my horse is settled. I just hate to commit until the day of because what if I still have tack to clean, courses to walk.. and as it is... I tend to be the last one ready for dinner and bed anyways
                          This pretty much sums up my days at an event... I just take a long time to do things! And I have lots that I DO even though it is more than others do. (Darn POny Clubber in me coming out). The only real difference between the quote above and me is that my horse isn't called "Fleck."


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by FlightCheck View Post
                            I was more referring to the 2 or 3 day shows...I understand if you trailer in/out, or do a 1 day
                            OK, that makes more sense. I was wondering how I could volunteer when, as far as I know, volunteering was at least a half day block and my wait time between dressage and jumping is usually about an hour, 2 hours max.

                            I will say that I have not volunteered much in the past mostly because I was either working or showing. I am planning to do some volunteering this summer since I am not planning to show much. I am volunteering at schooling trials that my friends are going to and will get free cross country schoolings from. Alternately, a place like Plantation that offers half day blocks is nice as well, since I am a busy person and do not have all day to stand around and watch people go over jumps.

                            Why only these places? Well, I volunteered somewhere last summer and was not given a radio because 'I did not need one'. I was jumping judging on cross country. Myself and the person with me were forgotten about for lunch and someone with a radio flagged down the person in charge. The lunch was eh and the day was VERY long. For over 9 hours of work, I got one free schooling (worth about $30). I can work (yes, I can work on the weekends) for 9 hours and get much more than that. Now that I think about it, I can work 4 hours, plus 2 hour round-trip commute and make more than twice that.

                            Maybe some other places would be better or some jobs better, but I was not impressed. I guess I am not vested enough in eventing or any eventing organization to really want to volunteer.

                            The organizations I volunteer with, I am vested in and give 100%.

                            I also agree with the people who say they focus at an event, rather than ride. When I go to an event, it is all me, my horse and our performance. I don't even invite my mother much because she tends to want me to 'entertain' her. My mare also does not drink when we are out so I like to spend as little time as possible at the show so I can get home and make sure she is alright. This is why I also have only done one-day shows with her. She may be fine in a stall, but I don't want to chance it.


                            • #15
                              I agree with the piecemeal point about time. Also the orgs do NEED to know that the jobs are covered long before the event weekend. You can offer to relieve someone for a break or potty trip.

                              What I have repeatedly seen that goes hugely lacking is anyone sticking around at the end to help collect xc fence flags or help pick up the stadium fences to put back in storage. Esp stadium - it ends up being that core group of people who did all the work anyway. Even if you're busy packing your trailer send that friend/family member over who came with you. At the end of a long sleepless weekend and many months of work days and planning for the orgs - go help pick up the fences you got to jump. PSA
                              Don't let anyone tell you that your ideas or dreams are foolish. There is a millionaire walking around who invented the pool noodle.


                              • #16
                                Call it an excuse if you want to, but I genuinely don't have the time when I'm competing. Yes, I have just one horse, but I travel with a barn. I'm an older, more experienced rider, so I find myself at the trailer helping my fellow riders get on and ready to go. I'm watering horses and refilling haynets and watching the wimpy ones that don't want to be alone. Then I have my own course walks and showing to do and a horse that seems to like to overheat. I can't just take off for four hours, that would be irresponsible for me in that situation, and I certainly don't want to make everyone else from my barn wait for me if I'm volunteering after everyone else is done riding. We're hitting the road at 5:30am in a lot of cases, and they have families and responsibilities back home.

                                I don't currently do multi-day shows, so I can't speak to that. If there was a stall and just one ride a day, then it would make sense. For people shipping in for one day? The idea of committing to volunteering on top of an already stressful day just turns my stomach. I wouldn't be able to handle it.
                                http://thoughtfulequestrian.blogspot.com - My Ventures Into Eventing


                                • #17
                                  Most of the events here are run on one day. Lower levels on saturday, higher levels on sunday. Sometimes all on one day. I generally have an hour or two between phases, and then when its over I cant wait to get on the road home. I really dont have time do volunteer during a show. If its a close show, and I show saturday, I often go back on sunday to volunteer. But if I show sunday, my saturdays tend to be busier than my show day, riding, bathing, course walking, tack cleaning, packing - cant swing that either, I rarely get home before 9pm anyway.

                                  Even for a 3 day event, I never find I have as much time as I would need to commit to volunteering. Between course walking, hand walking, ride times, feeding, eating myself, I tend to find myself busy most of the day and worn out by the end. I volunteer when I can, but during a show I just cant handle it, I have enough on my mind.

                                  I think its fair enough to expect competitors to give back to the sport, but I dont think its fair to expect them to work for the event while they are competing.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    reiterating...TWO or THREE day shows, and not ship ins (or riders who are also grooming or coaching someone else).


                                    • #19
                                      OK I am gonna ask the next logical question...

                                      So if you CAN'T compete and volunteer simultaneously, do you volunteer at events when you're NOT competing???

                                      "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries


                                      • #20
                                        OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!