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About My Day At Fair Hill

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  • About My Day At Fair Hill

    Bear with me. This may be long.

    I would like to share with everyone the glorious day I had at Fair Hill, and try to tell you how important, and fun, it is to be a part of an international competition in my own backyard so to speak. I have new respect and admiration for the people who coordinate this event and put it on.

    My day started at 4:00 a.m. And I doubt there were many others whose day started much later! I stopped for coffee and donuts and arrived about 6:15 in the dark at the parking area. There were already lighted road flares in the road and parking crew in attendance. People were already emptying trash, readying the grounds.

    Volunteers arrived in a steady stream, in the dark, stumbling over the grassy parking lot to the road and the volunteer tent, a lighted beacon for us. We smiled and said hello, many of us old friends from several years. We are a part of something, and we know it. We chat. There are smiles, what we can recognize and see in the dark!

    Fence judges make their way to the Food Tent, in the dark still, where there are officials with penlights and car headlights shining dim light on the fence judge packets, flags, nametags. Flashlights and car headlights! A briefing for volunteers in the dark of early morning before an international competition -- you have to admire the sheer dedication and sense of responsibility, and the feeling of caring these people all have toward the sport. One very very old lady accompanied by two others, obviously has been doing this a long time, carefully placed her portable chair near a tent peg and asked for her packet.

    I found my radio(s) and order of go sheets and had to head to warmup, and missed most of the briefing, as the warmup fences weren't set up, and FEI stewards like to have someone manning the area at least 1 hour before first horse, which was scheduled at 8:30. I did meet Jonathan the TD and several other important people who were absolutely astounded at the incredible turnout at 7am of fence judges and stewards. Many of these are Radnor alumni, by the way, and you couldn't ask for more knowledgeable and nicer folks to talk with. The coordinators too work nearly round the clock in the hours before the event -- by the time I got home last night after 8pm, Judy, our coordinator, already had an email on my computer thanking me!

    I met Ann, my FEI steward who has helped me for several years, in her trademark black cowboy hat. From the endurance world, she is used to roughing it -- sleeps in the back of her truck often -- loves the three day competition and the Fair Hill Club food tent, considers that a luxurious dining experience after endurance fare! She runs the road crossing between warmup and start, and you sure don't mess with Texas out there! We found our FEI Cross Country Steward Jan Stevens from Canada who took a look and approved our warmup jumps and provided us with breakaway cups for the back of the oxer and filled a couple large holes found on the far side of warmup. Our stonedust for the road crossing arrived prior to the first horse! A grand detail!

    The day began almost before the sun came up, I had horses in warmup by 7:15. The two star ran well, 2 minute intervals. It was just about without a hitch. The donuts went well. The apples (I forgot the carrots) went to the horses coming back across the field on the way out of the vetbox back to stabling. Riders were focused - some nervous - some relaxed. I have been doing this enough to be able to get the ones who cannot go over to start until the last minute timed right down to the second -- if they came to me and asked for a last minute call we worked it out. After the first few horses I figured it took 30 seconds to hack to the start box. We gave 45 second call to the bad actors. It worked in most cases.

    When the two star ended everyone left for lunchbreak! GEEaahhh!!! Left me alone to manage a road crossing by myself -- horses coming thru from vet box to stabling -- plus the first three star horses started hacking. And I had to move the warmup jumps to better footing. No lunch for me! I did take few quick bites of snacks, however.
    Fortunately a working student for someone, a lovely self assured person helped me and straightened the fences and ground lines! Many thanks!

    The three star horses and riders while more experienced have more on the line and are a bit on the nervous side. It however was great fun to see Oliver Townend and I think it was Leslie Law gallop around side by side chatting away about the course warming up. We had two or three minor holds, which everyone handled very well. Start got behind slightly but not badly, just made it hard for me the math impaired -- finally a friend helped me calculate out the times for the riders that were left. The only real problem we had was vehicles plugging the entrance to the startbox, which was clearly marked no vehicles, horses only, nearly half the afternoon. I personally feel those three star horses do not need to play dodge ball with dually trucks, gators and gold carts and did have to raise my voice several times!

    I did not realize how exhausted I was until we cleaned up afterwards, picking up the plastic fence grease gloves and getting all the coffee cups by the jumps in the garbage. Whew! I turned in my radio and babysitted the Seiko timer til Jim came to take it down. An exciting day. Very few crashes in warmup, mostly nice people, nobody yelled at me all day! Either I have them totally intimidated or they basically know what they are doing and don't really need me! I think it's the latter. I received many polite thank yous, and this from people about to tackle, for some, the biggest and most imposing cross country course they had ever seen. Very impressive people.

    So that's a day of volunteering. It's just one day for one person but that's only a tiny piece of big quilt of volunteering and how it works to make the event and the day go well. I could hear on the radio the incredible coordination throughout the course. Everyone worked hard all day and it was a long day with a lot of horses. This goes on at every big international event. My fervent wish is that riders and owners support these events with more than a thank-you to the volunteer but with financial support and moral support when they need it.

    Sorry this is so long!
    Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
    Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)

  • #2
    well said

    Wow, great post. Many thanks for the post and of course your big contribution

    It really brought me back to my volunteer time at Millbrook this year, my first exposure to the big time!! It to was a moving experience for me and a source of inspiration. Gotta love these experiences


    • #3
      Wow, that makes my volunteering for the one-* dressage (I was ring steward) at Midsouth Team Challenge this weekend seem so, so easy (it really was too!). Thanks so much for sharing


      • #4
        Thank you so much for sharing your day with us. Eventing runs on volunteers like you !


        • #5
          Originally posted by tuppysmom View Post
          Thank you so much for sharing your day with us. Eventing runs on volunteers like you !
          Amen to that and my thanks as well!!



          • #6
            Loved your post. I REALLY crave the fall three-days this time of year, and reading it made me feel like I was there!
            Thanks for volunteering too.


            • #7
              wow that is great! I was there yesterday for XC. I was at the barn cleaning stalls from 7-10:30. And then my nighttime job called me and said they didn't need me last night. So you know what I did? I drove 2 hours by myself (I'm 17) to come and see the cross country! I have never missed a year of the FHI and great thanks for a wonderful time! As usual! The fall events are so gorgeous this time of year. Perfect weather.


              • #8
                Very cool post!


                • #9
                  Let me just tell you that Rereadeventer was AWESOME!! She kept everyone on top of the holds during the *** and things ran very very smoothly for which I was very greatful! I was grooming this weekend and really appreciated her help SO much....so THANK YOU again retreadeventer for all your help!!
                  All the rest of the volunteers this weekend were great too. I felt bad for the lady who had to sit out in the cold and man the CCI stabling gate each morning, and the lady who was at the stable entrance who I caught napping today...ha ha ha. They all did a great job and they made our lives easier so THANK YOU to anyone of the rest of you who volunteered this weekend who may be posting here!
                  I know I am exhausted I can only imagine how you all must be feeling.
                  "A little less chit-chat a little more pitter-pat"


                  • #10
                    lovely details of a great big day...gave me reasons to think back to North Georgia coming alive in the dark...we are indeed lucky. Glorious day. Thank you for bringing us there with you.
                    ~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan


                    • #11
                      Second the thank yous to retread and to "Ann" - who we saw all weekend and never quite got her name - and to ALL of the other volunteers out there: from the crew manning jumps in the way-too-cold morning yesterday, to whoever that lovely person is who was bringing snacks around the stabling area all week. Really well run, well organized, and major thanks!


                      • #12
                        OMG! I forgot about her!...Weren't the chocolate covered strawberry and fruit/nut things awesome?!

                        Originally posted by GotSpots View Post
                        Second the thank yous to retread and to "Ann" - who we saw all weekend and never quite got her name - and to ALL of the other volunteers out there: from the crew manning jumps in the way-too-cold morning yesterday, to whoever that lovely person is who was bringing snacks around the stabling area all week. Really well run, well organized, and major thanks!
                        "A little less chit-chat a little more pitter-pat"


                        • #13
                          BRAVO! I would love to volunteer for a 3*** and 2**. And you guys sound like a smooth running machine. Way to go!
                          --Becky in TX
                          Clinic Blogs and Rolex Blogs
                          She who throws dirt is losing ground.


                          • #14
                            Thanks for posting this retread-- it is a great story about what a great experience volunteering can be! The camaraderie and sense of adventure are priceless (and this is not restricted to upper level events, btw!). It sounds like Fair Hill is truly blessed by a wonderful, dedicated group.

                            Also, riders and owners can support volunteers by... volunteering! I know one owner who volunteers (pwynn) and a rider who often provides a volunteer (Corinne A). I wish this was more often the norm.

                            Of course, retread's volunteering is not over for the fall-- she is helping out in a big way for Waredaca!
                            Taco Blog
                            *T3DE 2010 Pact*


                            • #15
                              Thanks for volunteering, retread eventer! The apples on the way home were such a nice detail, too -- appearing right when I was thinking "I really wish I had a treat to give you, wonderful horse!"

                              Our trip over was a bit funny: We had just crossed the road and were walking to the box, thinking we had a minute or so left, when the starter yelled something at me. I turned to my coach and said "Did she just say 15 seconds or 50?" My question was answered when the starter began yelling "10... 9... 8..."

                              So I picked up my reins and a trot and went directly to and through the box. I was still a second or two late leaving, but at least I didn't have any time to sit around and get nervous!

                              It take such an unbelievable number of people to run an event that big, and everyone was so helpful and cheerful -- whether the temperature was 70 degrees or 45 degrees! Huge thanks to everyone! Especially helpful (to me) was bornfreenowexpensive, who came out and helped me on cross-country day. I've never seen someone so efficient with studs! She absolutely rocked.
                              I evented just for the Halibut.


                              • Original Poster

                                Oh you were the one I sent over right on the edge!!! I am so sorry! I felt bad all day, I hoped you were not late! The start did not let me know they did not have a horse and that was right after a hold -- when the times are all jumbled and I have to calulate in my head who is when! I was yelling for everyone to clear out because I knew you had to gallop over! And it takes 30 seconds to cross the road and get to the start line and you had 40 ---- EEEKKK ----- and I can't yell "GO". (FEI steward warned me against that) I guess I could say something like "look out, horse GALLOPING" and hope the rider gets the inference, that would be in the grey area of unauthorized assistance....??)
                                Oh and part of the reason start did not let me know until late is they could not see that there wasn't a horse coming due to the cars and / or horse trailers parked in the way of their view of the warmup and road crossing.
                                Last edited by retreadeventer; Oct. 20, 2008, 08:22 AM. Reason: english
                                Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
                                Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by NeverTime View Post
                                  Especially helpful (to me) was bornfreenowexpensive, who came out and helped me on cross-country day. I've never seen someone so efficient with studs! She absolutely rocked.
                                  LOL ...wish I was so efficient with a different type of stud...but oh well. You and your boy really rocked! It was fun to watch him go...he's such a star (and was pretty polite in the vet box too!). Fingers crossed, I'll be there to help you next year in the ***!

                                  The volunteers did a fabulous job as always.....and Retred...you had a very tough job! Next time....let one of us know and we will grab you lunch!

                                  It was really a perfect day for xc!
                                  ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


                                  • #18
                                    What a beautiful post! You really managed to capture that before dawn feeling when the staff/volunteers have been up for several hours getting all the details right Our city crew starts about 3 am, and I am so impressed by the pride they take in making everything just so -- they always say "gee, I'm just doing my job." but the enthusiasm and positive pride they have is far more than someone just doing their job.

                                    And our volunteers, who stay on grounds so that we can be ready to assist riders at 5:30 or 6 a.m. always choke me up -- most of them have been doing it for years.

                                    Rarely do I see the xc folk getting ready, but I can always hear them on the radios.

                                    Tuppysmom and pegususmom are absolutely right -- eventing, as a sport, runs on volunteers like this.

                                    Originally posted by BigRuss1996 View Post
                                    All the rest of the volunteers this weekend were great too. I felt bad for the lady who had to sit out in the cold and man the CCI stabling gate each morning, and the lady who was at the stable entrance who I caught napping today...ha ha ha. They all did a great job and they made our lives easier so THANK YOU to anyone of the rest of you who volunteered this weekend who may be posting here!
                                    I know I am exhausted I can only imagine how you all must be feeling.
                                    Thanks for recognizing the thankless job of manning FEI security! We try not to do it with our volunteers any more after the year that they sat in the rain for hours, checking armbands and one of them almost got run slap over by a vehicle, going where a vehicle was not supposed to go! (The rider later was very apologetic, but it was pretty scary!) Having to deny entrance to people is NEVER fun, but it is nice when grooms and competitors realize the value of the volunteer having to sit there!

                                    Glad to hear that you guys had a good weekend!

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