Wednesday, January 5, 2011

On volunteering. What'd ya get out of it?

Way, way, back in 2000 and 2001, when I was showing Harv extensively, I started volunteering for the ESDCTA. At first I volunteered so I could qualify for a year end award. Well, THAT never happened, but in donating my time to ESDCTA I met volunteer coordinator Elaine L. and her husband. The two of them were so appreciative, and so fun, and so willing to show me the ropes, that I started volunteering every chance I got.
What did I like most? Scoring. I know, I know, scoring sounds boring. But it's not! You learn a great deal, like...
  • The basics, such as how scores are calculated
  • You get a better understanding of how co-efficients affect the bottom line score
  • You see how one bad score doesn't wreck an otherwise good test
  • You learn how freestyles are scored,  how ties are handled, how errors are calculated, and lots of othe useful stuff. 
  • At the NJ Horse Park, I could watch the professional rides I wanted to see from the announcer's glassed in room. Then, I could ask to score the ride. Looking at the judges comments was fascinating, educational, and yes, probably a little nosy.  I never spoke to anyone about what I read.
I stopped volunteering at some point -- not sure why. So this year, one of my resolutions is to volunteer more. Yeah me!


  1. My old instructor got me into volunteering for the same GMO. I love it... Volunteering was what first got me into eventing, because I saw for myself that it wasn't just the pros doing it. It's helped me learn more about show rules, and how things are run, so that I can be more conscientious and organized when it's my turn to ride. I've done everything from running scores to checking bits to scribing, and I have to say scribing is my favorite... I love sitting with the judges and learning how they see things.

  2. Scribing is another great way to learn--if you get to write for a good judge. My hands tend to cramp up now, so I wouldn't be too good at it, but I've done my share.

    Scoring is cool too. I really should do some volunteering again myself, but it always seems that the jobs end up with me going up and down stairs or hiking all over the place and frankly, my knees just can't do it anymore.

    ESDCTA is a great organization, and the NJ Horse Park is a super venue. We're lucky to have both in our horse community.

  3. I volunteer at a local horse club, I started last year. I have done the announcing, ran the registration booth, gave out ribbons, judged... There were a lot of really long days in the sun and the rain, people who wanted to argue because they didn't read the showbill correctly, and countless other issues to deal with. But in the end, it was a good time and I think it makes you a better and more knowledgable horse person when you are involved in the inner workings of the horse world. This year I am the dressage coordinator for the same non profit club, and although it is a little terrifying, I am looking forward to it.

  4. I don't volunteer as much as I should but I am aware that the sport depends on volunteers so if I want to ride I need to do some work on the ground. I have been a fence judge (eventing) which is always fun but always a long day. Gate steward at hunter/jumper shows (you need a thick skin) and worked the warm up ring at dressage shows. The dressage warm ups are educational, lots of different ways of dealing with horse and rider issues and then going out and doing a good test.

  5. My whole family volunteers (at endurance events) before the actual event by building trails for the event to be held UPON, and on the actual day with whatever ride management needs help to get done.

    What do we get? It's dang fun. I learn a lot. And after building the entire 50-mile course during the week prior to the event, I do NOT get lost on ride day! ;-)

  6. Pretty much the same as you - I love learning the ins and outs of whatever discipline or show that I'm volunteering at.
    I haven't volunteered much - ran dressage tests from the judge to the show manager, scribed an open trail class, passed out ribbons, worked the in/out gate, etc.
    The first two were the most educational in the terms of learning about different disciplines and such. Reading over the dressage test comments tuaght me what the judge looked for, what they didn't like, what made the difference between two people in a certain movement, etc. And since I don't ride or show dressage, that was very cool to take in.
    The trail class I scribed was at an in-house show at my second barn. The judge was a good friend of my then trainer, and she took the time after every class to exxplain why someone got this place why someone else didn't. While scribing for her, she took me under her wing and showed me stuff to look for, what wasn't good, what was cause for elimination, explained her thought process, and so much more. When it came time for the flat classes, I parked out in the middle of the ring with her, soaking in all her comments. Honestly one of my favorite times volunteering - two years later and I still can recall some of the things she taught me.
    Working the gate and passing out ribbons hasn't taught me much about judging and such forth, but definately gives you a lot of people skills. You deal with the show moms who think it's they're right to lean on the in/out gate and prevent you from opening the gate as people are trying to exit and enter then give you nasty looks for daring to mess up their viewing spot. When people give you an attitude for, God forbid, placing below first, you learn to just smile and take it. But, what makes working the in/out gate and passing out ribbons the most valuable is seeing the little ones get a ribbon and not caring what color the ribbon is, but being so happy to just get one. That's what I get out of that volunteering position the most. The rude looks are certainly worth it.

  7. I've done a little bit of volunteering at various shows and events and find it very educational and motivating. But, for more than 10 years I have faithfully volunteered at therapeutic riding programs. I like that I get to walk a few miles - makes me feel like maybe I'll lose a pound or so...but of course, the greatest plus is seeing the kids connect to the horse and make progress.

  8. How funny that I read this today...after I volunteered at my first Horse Trials this weekend in Ocala, FL. WHAT A RUSH! Yesterday I was the dressage score runner. 3 rings going at once...over 150 riders! Today...I was jump judge for jump #2 on the cross country course. Beginner Novice, Novice, Training, Prelim and Intermediate were the groups. WOW - AMAZING riders! Olympians and WEG riders. It was a total "horsey" weekend.

    Next weekend is the Green Cove Springs $100k Grand Prix. I will be volunteering again...Friday - Sunday.

    Just from this weekend, I have a completely different view of the "behind the scenes". I will definately make sure I am on time for my, introduce myself to the judge...and smile more:)


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