- You get to FINALLY wear shorts outside in the sun. All day. I'm not promising you won't still have the palest legs of anyone you know, but you won't feel out of place bearing your pasty gams around a ton of other horse people. And you never know, you might even get a tan (don't worry, it won't last).
- Learn the rules! I volunteer at a lot of dressage shows, and I've learned more about the nuances of USDF/USEF rules than I ever gleaned by simply reading them. (For example, did you know that the location and size of a warm up arena cannot be changed mid-show?) You don't want to break the rules, or inadvertently disqualify yourself. This is a great way to learn what to do, and why!
- Get familiar with show routines and what's expected of you. Maybe this doesn't apply to everyone, but I show alone and sometimes it's overwhelming to get to a show facility and wonder "gee, where do I go?" Volunteering a lot gives you insight into how a show is run, who to talk to, and how to deal in a show atmosphere. If I hadn't volunteered before my first few shows, I'd have been LOST.
- Free Instruction. Typically, I ring steward, and let-me-tell-you-! that's a great way to pick up training and riding tips. At the warm up ring, you have all sorts and styles of instructors giving their riders tips. You are also privy to how people solve problems in warm up, how they gloss over a nervous horse, or try to wring points out of a test. Watching is the #1 way to learn if you can't be riding, and this is free (plus they often feed you!).
|My view as a Warm-up Ring Steward at Harmony in the Park a couple of weeks ago.|
This weekend, I'll be off scribing, possibly jump judging, and maybe checking bits at the IEA Horse Trials and Training 3-Day. My lovely friend Jen of CobJockey lives close to the large horse park, and I'm lucky she's willing to open the doors of Château Cobjockey to my shenanigans for the weekend. I'm thrilled to be back with the eventing crowd for a long weekend (Yay! My employer's community service hours count!), and excited to see some good friends run around the tracks. If you'll be there, look me up!
Do you volunteer? If not, why?