Hug Your Volunteers!

 dressage ringI have just come home from a long weekend at the Dressage Affair and I am exhausted. Shows always take it out of me, with the excitement, the nerves and the unexpected surprises that inevitably pop up, and this show was no exception. After a wonderful Thursday, the heavens opened and down came the rain to wash the competitors out. And folks, there would be no climbing up that spout again because after a dry day our hopes were dashed again by yet another downpour.

It is easy in a show where most of the classes were canceled to get caught up in your own personal ups and downs; I certainly was. But as the tent was being packed and the horses were getting ready to load for the trip back home, I looked over the rings.

They were half under water, sloppy and slippery. While I was going to throw my things into my car and drive home, those heavy, muddy rings still needed to be dismantled and loaded, rings that never got to be used.

All through this sopping weekend, ring stewards were still in place, scribe’s hands were still cramping, show management was up until midnight struggling to accommodate and salvage what they could of the competitors and a stalwart volunteer was still holding vigil at the CDS San Diego booth holding the raffle, even though the tent had collapsed the night before in the torrential rains.

These people are the lifeblood of our shows and in my mind are the true dressage devotees. To spend your time and effort to help the sport you love is a hugely worthy cause. Whether it be scribing, running tests, setting up, or dismantling, there is always a need. I have NEVER heard of a show that has said, “No thanks! Plenty of volunteers here!”

Perhaps you have no interest in showing. That does not mean you should not volunteer at a show. I know of plenty of adult amateurs that could learn a huge amount, meet potential friends, see VERY interesting things to gossip about later without ever having to spend one cent. You know how? That is right, by volunteering!

And if wild horses could not drag you out as a volunteer, if nothing else appreciate what these people do for you. These women and men often come out without a huge base of knowledge but with the purest of intentions and if a step is missed, or a “t” is not crossed or “i” dotted, remember that it is YOUR attitude as a competitor that might dictate whether they come out again.

Right now you volunteers are not reading this, you are probably wading through the muck trying to drag the dressage ring to your trailer. Or squinting at paperwork. Or sitting in the indoor freezing your rear end off waiting to run the last test back to the office. But when you get home and read these words, read the following well: Thank you! Thank you for loaning me your tests when one of our people forgot to bring theirs up, thank you for smiling even though you had been there for eight hours, thank you for showing up at the crack of dawn on the morning of a time change. Thank you for everything and know that you are appreciated, maybe not by all, but by many, with me being one of them.  


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