Volunteering 101

Clinic attendees included: Morgan Vaughn, Deborah Epperson, Leslie Morris, and Sally Richards

Volunteering 101

By Nicole Miller

Shows don’t happen without them. The club cannot function without them. They are the often unsung heroes of the equestrian world. In case you haven’t guessed, I’m talking about volunteers.

As with nearly any hobby- or sport-oriented club, SEDA and the local horse show community are dependent upon the dedication of people who generously donate their time and talents to make our passion happen. And we are beyond grateful for these wonderful people! However, there seems to be a thinning pool of willing bodies we can tap into in order to continue to offer quality programs and shows in our area. One of the reasons that was voiced was a lack of education regarding the different duties at horse shows – essentially, some people were intimidated because they didn’t know what they were walking into.

To help ease fears and empower our volunteer base, Morgan Vaughn organized a Volunteer Clinic in conjunction with the Hot Summer Fun In The Sun Ride-A-Test Clinic featuring Helen George.

Clinic participants were introduced to all of the jobs available at the horse shows in our area, including ring steward, bit check, runner, jump crew, time keeper, jump judge, and scribe. Videos showing examples of the job requirements and different scenarios for most of the positions were viewed and questions answered. 

The two most intimidating jobs seem to be scribe and jump judge.

Scribes are an indispensable necessity at dressage shows, and often taken for granted. It’s also a great opportunity to spend some time with a judge and gain a better understanding of what judges are looking for and what they see – the view from C is vastly different than from the back of a horse! Leslie Morris offered instruction from the judge’s point of view – what the scribe needs to do as well as the importance of keeping the judge on track and tests in order. One handy scribing tool that was distributed to the attendees is available from USDF: it’s a cheat sheet of common abbreviations for judge’s comments on tests! What a great way to save a lot of writing! Those who wanted to practice immediately  could scribe for the riders in the Ride-A-Test Clinic which was happening concurrently with the Volunteer Clinic. Everyone who hadn’t scribed before has a new appreciation for the position, and some compassion for the scribe with the cramped hand whose writing they couldn’t read on that one test…

Jump judging was another hot topic. On the eventing side of things, the jump judges on the cross country course are of vital importance. Not only do they ensure that riders navigate the obstacles safely, they are responsible for reporting any errors on course, refusals, or falls. Multiple scenarios were discussed to gain a greater understanding of what constitutes a ‘refusal’ and a ‘completed obstacle’…run-outs, complete stops, near misses, bunny hops … there’s a long list of options but the judgment calls all make perfect sense. Demonstration of the use of the walkie talkies was also of great interest since they seem to continually be elements of confusion and torture rather than communication on the cross country course. Attendees were also familiarized with the score sheets used on the cross country course and how to complete them for each rider at each obstacle.

Not to be dismissed is the importance of the setup and take-down involved in any show. Setting up the dressage arena and stadium jumping courses, labeling and decorating the cross country course, as well as putting it all away at the end of a competition are of vital importance.

In the end, it takes a lot of people to put on a quality competition. SEDA has made an effort to empower the volunteer base with knowledge of the jobs and requirements people might encounter. Everyone is strongly encouraged to try a different position at the next show, ask questions…learn something new! There are endless opportunities for your gifts and talents within SEDA and the local horse show community. We need YOU! Thank you in advance for helping out!

Missed this clinic? Be sure to contact Morgan and let her know that you’d be interested in another date. And bring a friend!

Thank you to the Louisiana Equine Council who helped sponsor the clinic.

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