Suggestion Box Responses

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to respond, we take your suggestions seriously. This is your club, and we want to do a good job for our members.

After discussing the submissions, the Board will post its responses on the web site.

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Suggestion Box

SUGGESTION: The SEDA Board has received several comments regarding the year end awards presented at this past Awards Banquet. Some of these comments and suggestions were unfortunately rather rude in nature, so we will summarize: there were people who were disappointed with the award selection, they felt they ‘deserved better’, and that we did not spend enough money on awards.

RESPONSE: We are very sorry that anyone was disappointed with the award selection for this year. In fact, we are rather distressed to hear that, considering the amount of time and effort which went into the selection of the award items and planning the banquet.
The tone of the messages we received suggests that it seems we ‘skimped’ and ‘went cheap’. On the contrary. The banquet is the one opportunity we have each year to give back to our members, so we spent a lot on giveaway items, entertainment, and awards. 
The custom wood and horse-hair brushes received by Reserve Champions were over $25 each in unit cost. These are not the inexpensive brushes one can pick up at Tractor Supply, they are good, quality brushes, and something we thought horse owners could use. And, more importantly, use in multiples if they received multiple awards.
The custom dry erase stall plaques received by the Champions came to over $30 each. Again, these are not the inexpensive, stick-up dry erase boards you can get at WalMart or Dollar Tree. They are heavy duty and nicely made to withstand the rigors of barn and show life. We figured those who received multiples could use them both at home and at shows.
We spent nearly $2500 on Champion and Reserve Champion Awards alone. The ribbons cost nearly $15 each. These were not ‘cheap’ items, we didn’t purchase ‘skimpy’ items, and we are greatly disappointed that some people felt that way.
You should know that the chairs given out at the previous year’s awards banquet were drastically out of the norm of the typical awards budget: the outgoing Board wanted to ‘go out with a bang’ and spent an extraordinary amount that year. It’s not a bad thing, but it also hasn’t been the norm and is not something that can be done every year. Historically, most of the Champion awards averaged around $25 and the Reserve around $15. We actually spent more than that this year, because we could. We are not opposed to establishing a ’new norm’, and we most definitely will look at this and other options for the future, but more concrete feedback about what would be an ‘acceptable’ award is necessary. 
Our awards chairperson did consult with some of the individuals who received multiple awards to determine what types of items might be found useful as well as nice things to receive as a prize. The difficulty in choosing awards is that not everyone will be happy with the selection. 
If we choose apparel, there are complaints about size and color, not to mention what to do with multiples. 
If we choose horse wear, there are complaints about size and color, not to mention what to do with multiples. 
One year, rustic pottery bowls were given (“I don’t like pottery and what do I do with X number of these?”)
One year it was tumblers. (“What do I do with only ONE of these?”)
One year it was tumbled stone trivets. (“What do I do with ALL of these?”) 
Tote bags, boot bags, bridle bags, saddle pads, bag chairs, plaques, halters … all of these have been given in the past and people have complained about them for one reason or another. In fact, when we were researching items to give this year, it was emphatically stated that these particular items were NOT wanted again, so we stayed away from them.
This doesn’t leave much to choose from. Gift cards? People complained they wanted someTHING with the club logo on it that was more personal. 
So, what are we to do? It seems every direction we turn someone will be unhappy, and that’s unfortunate. We are always open to ideas and concrete suggestions are more helpful than simply stating that you are not satisfied. 
Again, we reiterate that we feel bad that anyone was disappointed. We did try VERY hard to choose quality, thoughtful, and useful items. We will look at what can be done for the next banquet and, hopefully, there won’t be too many people disappointed with whatever we choose.
For everyone who is displeased with the banquet and awards: please consider volunteering for the Awards Chair position when it is next available. You then can have direct input on what and how the awards and banquet are managed. We’re always looking for new people and ideas, so that would be a great opportunity for you to make the change you’d like to see!

Sometimes a suggestion box submission is a misperception. In the case of the member who was concerned that Pony Club and 4-H members were not able to participate in SEDA shows because their points do not count, is a misconception. ANYONE, adult or child, who is a member of SEDA, participates in SEDA recognized events and then follows the rules for submitting scores, is eligible to earn points toward SEDA year end awards.

Likely this person was referring to an effort several years ago to have SEDA recognize Pony Club and 4-H classes. After much discussion and debate, the board decided against it. The main reason is that while we support and encourage anyone to participate in and expand their horsemanship in any way they choose, the majority of Pony Club and 4-H classes are NOT open to other members of SEDA. In other words, they are exclusive and would create and unlevel playing field whereby Pony Club members would have an unfair advantage in terms of earning points where other SEDA members could not. However, a compromise was reached by the Board whereby it was decided that any OPEN (defined as open to anyone) Pony Club classes could be used toward SEDA awards IF the Pony Club organizers and management followed SEDA rules for recognition of the event AND the classes match (or closely match) divisions already offered in our year end awards system- just like every other schooling show we recognize. To date, no such request has been made.

While SEDA encourages everyone to pursue their riding goals through whatever club or association they choose, we simply cannot recognize activities that don’t include everyone and that do not meet our established guidelines for year end awards. We reiterate, ANYONE is allowed to participate in SEDA. Pony Club and 4-H members, along with anyone else wishing to participate, are encouraged to do so, within our established rules for fairness and inclusivity. We simply are not in the position to retrofit our awards program for every outside club, nor conversely would they be willing or able to do that for SEDA.

Yet another submission suggested that SEDA work toward getting a recognized Horse Trial. You are reading our minds! We have submitted our application to the USEA for a recognized show. Judges and a TD have been secured. Our President, Lynn Quast will be attending the Area 3 meeting in June to officially request dates for September 2015. After that it will simply be a matter of waiting for approval. Our long term goal of putting on a recognized Horse Trial is very close to being realized!

Our new Suggestion Box has been a big hit with the membership and a welcome source of feedback for the board. Going forward, we have decided to address each and every suggestion submission in the form of an article. So here’s our first one! We think this approach will serve the purpose of transparency, keeping the membership informed while also being informative and educational. Board member Vicky Busch has been appointed to write these articles, once the board has reviewed and decided how to respond to each submission. This article and its content will always be approved by the Board.

In a recent Suggestion Box submission, someone thought it might be useful to poll recent “non-renewed” members to find out why they had not. The Board discussed this at length and while we are, of course, always concerned about the reasons for “non-renewed” members, we feel the many reminders that are sent from the Membership Director and public access to the Suggestion Box are sufficient efforts and avenues for redress. We also want to respect the possible members who may not be renewing for personal or financial reasons.

A second suggestion was for the Board to consider term limits for the office of President. This issue has been tossed around many, many times for over 20 years. The Board discussed this idea, and emphatically acknowledged that one of the biggest stumbling blocks is the apparent lack of interest within the membership for becoming a Board member to begin with, which is a requirement to be considered as a candidate for President. Interest can be expressed by simply attending the Board meetings – a practice which the Board encourages. Another factor is that many current Board members are not interested in serving as President. However, term limits are a valid idea, so the Board plans to revisit the issue at future meetings. Some things which must be considered are: 1) how much Board service should be required before serving as President; 2) the possibility of a graduated process to serve as President. One option we plan to address was suggested by Board member Gerlinde Beckers – it is the process adopted by the Louisiana State board of Education, in which there is a three term process before one serves as President. Keeping in mind that the job is not as easy as it looks, and that time spent in service of the club on the Board is critical, this seems a feasible and practical option.

Sidenote: Clare Boothe Luce once said “No good deed goes unpunished.” As the first American woman to be appointed to a major overseas Ambassador position, she probably knew of what she spoke. Board participation sometimes feels like that. It is truly community service. The positions are hard work, thankless in most cases, and a hefty dose of aggravation. However, to serve the greater good of the community, the sports we love, our children and clients, all of that must be put aside. If as a member you think you want to join the Board, there is a process. Start by attending meetings which are always announced far in advance. Decide if you want to be involved. When elections roll around, if you are a member in good standing, then submit your name to be on the ballot. It’s that simple. We would LOVE to have more willing bodies to serve.

Another suggestion was not really a suggestion, rather a perception. One anonymous member is concerned that certain Board members might be intimidating to other Board members and might be “running the show” on their own. While the Board certainly appreciates the concern voiced in this submission, please be assured that while each person is different, the Board is comprised of strong minded, strong willed, dedicated and intelligent members who would never be run over by anyone. The best we can do to allay anyones fears in this regard is to invite them to our meetings. But be warned, they are energetic, productive and fun!

One member suggested that schooling shows offer divisions in their classes to avoid the Adult Amateur having to compete against the Professional, JR or any combination thereof. The Board agrees with this and, for 2015, will include in its recognition criterion that Adult Amateur, Professional and JR divisions be offered at schooling shows. While these suggestions will be made, the Board cautions that we do not ultimately control these schooling shows that are put on and run privately. Please consider helping us out by also voicing your suggestion with the management of these schooling shows.

First, the Board would like to thank those who took the time to let us know that they are happy with what we are doing and supportive of our efforts. We deeply appreciate your kind words and endeavor to continue to do a good job.

These suggestions were answered in the May/June issue of Off Course; subsequent suggestions and answers will be published in an article format.

SUGGESTION: It would be good if checks and payments for SEDA events could be deposited sooner – the process takes too long.

ANSWER: The Board acknowledges the issue and apologizes for the inconvenience it has caused. The reason this has occurred is that many different individuals receive the initial funds which then have to be delivered to the Treasurer, who then has to deposit the funds. This has not been a smooth process – sometimes delayed by the Postal Service, sometimes by human oversight, and sometimes by vacations! We have made it our goal to get funds deposited within three weeks of receipt and will work diligently toward that end.

SUGGESTION: Make the suggestion box public so everyone can see what is being suggested. A real move towards being transparent. Plus the added benefit of someone elaborating on an idea and making it even better.

ANSWER: The Board discussed this suggestion and has decided that at this time it would be best to use the newsletter as the public venue of addressing the Suggestions we receive. There are multiple reasons for this.

1)Allowing the suggestions to be publicly accessed may make some members uncomfortable as their anonymity may be compromised.

2)While the Board members enjoy volunteering, at this time, we don’t have enough hours in a day available to moderate a public forum. A discussion forum which could devolve into nastiness without a diligent moderator is not conducive to positive change.

3)The Board wishes to have the opportunity to discuss and address each suggestion properly, with appropriate attention and consideration. As these suggestions are made public, we are certainly open to further comments from members in the event there is something we missed.

SUGGESTION: I would like to voice my opinion on the removal of Volunteer Hours. This is a organization that requires a lot of different volunteers to run a successful show. As I attend the shows I always see the same volunteers at each and every show. When you continue to have the same volunteers at each show that is what leads to BURN OUT. There should be a requirement as well as an incentive for people to volunteer to belong to seda. As far as the juniors go, I think they should be required to have volunteer hours also. This not only teaches them how to help, but also teaches all aspects of what is needed for a show.

If the juniors are not taught how to volunteer now, how are they going to volunteer as adults.

A suggestion that was made to me, is that maybe if there were some classes held to teach people the different parts of volunteering they would learn and want to help. The biggest hurdle to over come is fear of the unknown. Maybe a scribing class, scoring class, etc.- Then people could learn how it is done and would feel more comfortable volunteering. This change of volunteer hours should have been polled to the general membership.

RESPONSE:  First, on behalf of the SEDA Board, thank you for your submission. This is a great example of what we had hoped could be achieved by offering the suggestion box – a venue for constructive criticism and grievances. We especially thank you for this particular submission because it affords us a perfect opportunity to introduce our initiative ideas for volunteering during the coming year. And we sincerely hope you get involved! One thing you mention in your submission is very true – horse shows and events struggle to get volunteers and ultimately wind up relying on the same group of, as you describe, BURNT OUT volunteers, over and over. Logic would then dictate, that our current volunteer requirement is simply not working. Instead of actually volunteering, members are paying the fee. This is not what we need.

Money is nice but we need people to put on these events!

Our focus over the coming year will be to implement a volunteer program that will promote volunteerism in a spirit of asking – rather than demanding. We hope to create a committee (maybe you will help??) that will focus on cultivating incentives for volunteerism. Over the past many months, the Board has interviewed numerous other clubs on a variety of topics, volunteering included. We learned that SEDA is in the same boat in our struggles to get help putting on shows and events. Many clubs have had success with focusing on simply asking people directly. Apparently, folks appreciate both being asked and then appreciated. These are the elements we hope to focus on in our coming year of experimenting with no volunteer requirement. Mentoring and instruction focusing on training volunteers is also part of the plan so again, we hope that you and other volunteer conscious members will help us implement the plan. We specifically hope to offer some mini-sessions of training for volunteers to help them understand things like scribing and bit checking, but these will be of no value if no one comes. Participation is important. We plan to offer programs but their continued success will depend on membership response and participation. We need everyone!!

As far as Juniors volunteering, many do. Juniors are an important component of our volunteer force. We agree that our youth need to learn the value of helping others, and also take advantage of the opportunity to learn new skills. We also realize that this is a commitment on the part of parents, many of whom are stretched very thin and simply cannot accommodate ‘one more thing’. Previously, Juniors were not required to volunteer, although many did. As we move forward, more of our young riders – and subsequently their parents – will be asked to volunteer at events. We are hopeful that direct contact and perhaps a little persuasion will increase the number of Juniors who choose to get involved. If you know any young riders who wish to volunteer but perhaps have no way of getting to events, we encourage you and all of our members to step in and offer them a ride, and even some mentoring! We hope to have many more Juniors involved in volunteering during the coming year as we try a more “kinder, gentler” approach!

And finally, in order to effectively lead, the Board must have the freedom to make informed decisions. It might surprise you to know how MANY important decisions are made at even one Board meeting. We would love to have more membership input and encourage everyone to get involved. Nothing can replace the value of live, one-on-one discussion on a topic. Perspective on both sides of an issue are presented and decisions then made accordingly. Regarding polls, historically the response to them has been minuscule so the results are not validly representative of the membership’s opinion. For the most part, the Board makes what we feel are good decisions at the time and then we see how it goes; if we find it does not work, then we will reconsider our options. None of this is written in stone; we grow and change by trying new things until we find what works best – for now – for our membership!

Your SEDA board has worked very hard this year implementing numerous changes that we hope will make the club more user friendly, make SEDA life generally easier, adopt ideas and programs that promote fairness, as well as create a greater sense of community and inclusiveness in our membership.

We hope to see you and many others SEDA members become involved in our upcoming volunteer program and perhaps also see you at future Board meetings. Again, thank you for you submission. It is much appreciated.

SUGGESTION: You should do a Derby two or 3 times a year so that when fleur de leap arrives lots of kids can do it.

RESPONSE:  Thank you for your submission. Please direct your attention to either the calendar that accompanies the weekly “bleeps”, the calendar in the OffCourse newsletter or the calendar online where you will find that Lagniappe farm is in fact offering the Eventing Derbies 3 times this year before Fleur de Leap in the Fall. This is however a good opportunity for us to point out to the membership that while SEDA recognizes the Derbies and includes them in our awards program, we do NOT organize or run them. If members have any requests, concerns or suggestions along those lines, please contact the organizers of these events.

SUGGESTION: This concerns the Jr. Classic…I would like to suggest that rather than adding classes that have very little relevance to our sport like the Medal Class, which is from the Show Hunter discipline, that organizers may consider adding an Eventing Equitation Test. This is a combination of a short dressage test and jumping combination, judged on position, seat and effective use of aids. Both on the flat and over fences. If this type of division could be offered at several venues, perhaps it could develop into a year end award.
Thank you for your time.

RESPONSE: Thank you for your suggestion regarding the Junior Classic show. The Eventing Equitation Test is a good idea, and, in fact, SEDA has done Eventing Rider Tests in years past – so we are certainly open to offering it again! This year (2015), we altered the format of the Junior Classic prize list in hopes of refreshing the show with some new options, while still offering the major competitive components that members expected and needed for year end awards. We hoped to accomplish a number of things: 1) freshen the typical format and bring new excitement to the show, 2) provide SEDA juniors with a greater diversity and exposure to other disciplines which might encourage knowledge and awareness outside of the eventing field (making them more well-rounded), and 3) encourage junior participation from outside the normal SEDA membership (i.e. non-dressage types) to exemplify the benefits and enjoyment of classical training. All of these goals, we felt, might build community awareness for our club as well as potentially increase club membership. Your feedback is important and we will continue to solicit additional feedback from the event to ascertain what worked or what didn’t. We want to continue to make the Junior Classic a fun event while exposing our youth to different opportunities to help them grow as riders and sportsmen/women.

SUGGESTION: I just wanted to drop a quick note. I was in the process of going online to complete my vote for officers for the next two years. When I went to the link provided in the email I noticed that there is only one choice for each and every single position. Is this really the case? Personally, this doesn’t feel like an election if there are no choices. What can be done to change this? This also seemed to be the case in the last election too.

RESPONSE: Thank you for taking the time to voice your concerns about our election. You are correct, there is only one candidate for each position, and the Newsletter position had no candidate at all. The Board has been asking in earnest for volunteers to serve on the Board since early summer. These requests, pleas, and individual conversations resulted in NO ONE putting themselves in the pool for the Board. Current Board members, therefore, opted to serve another term rather than let positions be vacant. The exception is the Newsletter position, for which no one stepped forward with an interest to take it on, and the incumbent needed to step down. Therefore, the club will not have a newsletter for the foreseeable future.

We would be very pleased to offer an election that is more than a formality. This seldom happens as, to do so, we need people to volunteer to serve in these positions. Requirements are available in the ByLaws and were easily accessible to members via the weekly Bleeps, the website, and Facebook. We cannot force members to read the communications or to get involved. This is a volunteer organization, it runs on volunteers, and we need more people to express an interest in getting involved for more than their required volunteer hours.

We suggest that if you would like to see some new names on the ballot or more choices for the positions, that you consider running for a Board position yourself. Since this was an anonymous submission, we cannot ask you directly, but do encourage you – and every member of SEDA – to consider volunteering for a Board position in the next election. We need more people to express an interest in club governance if SEDA is going to continue into the future. Ask a Board member or come to a Board meeting to see what is involved and find out how you can best serve your fellow members.

SUGGESTION: The club has become completely geared towards eventing. Where has the dressage gone? Where are the educational events? We are down to two shows for the state and the amount of eventing type events have doubled. Our only events are more and more schooling shows (which are now combined with the eventing schooling shows). Why hasn’t more of an effort been made to help the dwindling number of dressage participants? How are the membership numbers looking now? Because many people are silently upset that they are being excluded. In all honesty, if you guys want to keep moving towards eventing, (especially with a board that consists of mainly eventers, that NEVER changes) then make it an eventing association and be done with it.

RESPONSE: Thank you for taking the time to contact the SEDA Board with your concerns. We appreciate your comments and will address each point you made.

To say that SEDA has become “completely geared towards eventing” is exaggeration at best. SEDA has continued to offer its Fleur de Leap horse trials and combined test (with dressage-only opportunities) since the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Since 2006, the Board was committed to rebuilding the cross country course and re-establishing a recognized horse trial for the area. This took time, money, and work – and, unfortunately, it’s taken this long to offer a recognized horse trial again. However, this was always the goal (refer to the Board meeting minutes as published in Off Course from 2006-2014). We have met that goal without adding any new SEDA-operated eventing competitions. If you are thinking of the eventing derbies at Lagniappe that were new in 2015 and continue in 2016, these are privately run by Lagniappe Equestrian Center. They asked for, and were granted, SEDA recognition for year-end awards. The Christmas dressage and combined test shows of a few years’ past at Amen Corner were also independently operated but were granted SEDA recognition for year end awards. When that organizer stopped offering the show, SEDA stepped in and took it over to make sure our members maintained that opportunity to compete in a schooling show, whether that be dressage, combined test or horse trial. What you may be seeing is that the local horse community wanted more eventing-type shows, and at the end of the day, show managers of independent farms and stables are largely the ones responsible for what is offered.

You ask what has happened to dressage?  The ‘dwindling number of dressage riders’ is the root of the problem. It is not financially responsible for the club (or anyone) to host shows which lose a lot of money. We’re not talking hundreds of dollars, but thousands of dollars the club has lost hosting recognized dressage shows with very low attendance. We will gladly offer a show if attendance warrants that it will break even or, at worst, result in a very minimal loss. We’re not in it for the profit, be we cannot repeatedly sustain huge losses. That is irresponsible. For years, SEDA’s Le Bon Temps has been a controversial show to offer because of the amount of money it takes to run it, and quite honestly, participation at the local level at this show has been weak.  In case you don’t know, it’s very expensive to produce a recognized dressage show: judge fees, TD fees, facility fees, organization fees, show secretary fees, travel and lodging and meal expenses for the out-of-town officials, and more. The reason there are so few shows in our area anymore is that the demand has dwindled. This is, in part, why the people who used to coordinate these shows no longer do so. It has nothing to do with SEDA catering to eventing riders! We cannot control the fact that the show managers who ran Dressage Across the Lake and some of the other local shows limited – or even stopped offering – the shows that were once so popular BECAUSE it becomes a supply and demand issue. It is extremely hard work with very little pay off or benefit.

We have to serve the demand and be responsible to the fiscal soundness of the club on behalf of all our members. People are willing to attend schooling shows, they are not so willing to attend recognized dressage shows. Out-of-town riders have decreased in number as well, choosing instead to compete closer to home. We are sincerely hoping that with the additional qualifiers added to Le Bon Temps that we will draw a larger attendance which will help the show grow. We’ll find out in May! Another thing to consider is the difficulty in getting a judge, a date which will maximize attendance, doesn’t conflict with anything else on the calendar in the area or region, and which will work with our volunteer base. It’s not as simple as just deciding to ‘host a recognized dressage show’! As you can see, there are a lot of factors involved which contribute to the reduced number of dressage shows available in the area. SEDA has put its money where its mouth is when it comes to offering what its club members have asked for and are willing to support – and then some. If you would like to be on the committee to plan recognized dressage shows, please contact Leslie Morris. We would love to have more people involved.

As far as educational opportunities … we are always open to suggestions regarding educational opportunities members may want and would like to offer more. When members suggest something to us, we consider it, see if it is feasible both financially and something that can be scheduled on the calendar, if there is enough interest to warrant putting it together … and if those criteria are met, we make a sincere effort to offer it. Historically, attendance at these events is very low, which indicates that it is not that important to members. Case in point, the freestyle clinic we are offering this spring – because a member mentioned that they would like to see it offered – is still not full. Consider that auditors at local clinics are nearly non-existent as well. This is not unique to SEDA. USDF itself has ceased offering the Adult Clinic series due to low attendance nationwide. It is difficult getting feedback from members regarding what they want to attend for education. If we don’t know what members want, how can we offer it? If you have a suggestion for an educational opportunity you would like to see or how to encourage more participation in dressage, please contact the Dressage Director so she can bring these suggestions to the show committee and the Board.

Regarding the Board structure … we had a Board election in 2015. All members in good standing were encouraged to run for a position on the Board. We had to beg people to fill the vacant positions, and others generously offered to stay on so that there would not be a number of vacancies on the Board. To insinuate the Board is “stacked” with eventing-exclusive members is simply NOT TRUE. Please take a look at the current Board and analyze each individual’s riding resume and show history: Lynn Quast – eventing; Elizabeth Simmons – hunter/jumper, dressage, some eventing; Leslie Morris – dressage; Nicole Miller – dressage; Janel Martin – dressage; Elaine Harmon – dressage; Leyla Nichols – dressage; Lisette Constantin – eventing; Morgan Vaughn – eventing. That doesn’t seem to indicate an eventing monopoly, in fact, it is fairly balanced as far as discipline preference is concerned. The entire Board recognizes the importance of attending to the needs of all members of the club, no single discipline gets preferential treatment.

We appreciate your concern in feeling that the club is focusing more on eventing than dressage right now, and we hope that you now can see that this is not the case. We strongly encourage our membership to encourage other riders to get involved in the recognized dressage shows which are offered so that demand increases and SEDA – and the independent show organizers – can offer more of these shows in our area. We really would like to, but until it is economically feasible to do so, we encourage you and everyone else to support Le Bon Temps and The First Dance. Please consider sending in suggestions for educational events, and consider running for a Board position in the next election. In the meantime, please support the events which are offered and those who are doing their best to offer education and rewarding competition opportunities to our members.

SUGGESTION: I volunteered at a recognized dressage show last year, and I found some of the other volunteers to be quite rude- treating me as if I did not know what was going on, etc. I myself ride, show and have volunteered before, so I am aware of the various volunteer duties. I am not the only person who has experienced this.

Perhaps people would be more likely to volunteer if some of the people involved were nicer. I want to see as many shows as possible in our area, but I will not volunteer at another recognized dressage show after my experience.

RESPONSE: This comment came as a surprise to us. We cannot recall receiving any derogatory comments about our volunteer staff at shows. Quite the contrary, actually. SEDA and the other show organizers in the area make a concerted effort to ensure that volunteers know that they are appreciated and valued. None of the events in our area would be able to happen without the small army of people who step in to make it possible. This is why volunteer appreciation gifts are offered, and, for SEDA’s part, our Volunteer of the Year awards. Unfortunately, no safeguards can be put in place to ensure that individual volunteers behave kindly toward each other. In the higher stress situations of recognized shows, it is possible that some toes may be stepped on or someone may be snapped at unintentionally as people run around trying to make sure everything is done correctly and all the bases are covered. If this occurs, it should be brought to the attention of show management or the volunteer coordinator for the event. Immediately. If an individual is subsequently found to have a history of being problematic, we can do our best to put them in positions where they may be less abrasive. Beyond that, try not to take it personally. Everyone has an off day, not everyone possesses a high level of tact, and the person may be truly just attempting to be helpful rather than mean spirited. And please, don’t let it stop you from volunteering – you really are appreciated!

SUGGESTION: I have a suggestion about the warm-up area for the Fleur de Leap. If it is on incline, can the jumping be uphill instead of downhill. I found this to be unnecessary pressure on horses’ legs. I did not warm-up much because of this. My horses’ physical health is a priority to me. None of the course jumps were on incline going downhill.

RESPONSE: Thank you for your comment. Fleur de Leap organizers will look into reversing the jumps for warm up for future competitions. Just so you know, they were set on the slight downhill since jumping on an marginal downward incline forces the rider to balance their horse and they are less likely to let them run at the fences. Additionally, jumping on a downhill shifts the rider into a safer cross country seat, as the rider moves more to the back seat in order to not jump ahead of their horse. Creating this type of warm up environment was an effort to ultimately create a safer warm up area for all riders and, ideally, a safe cross country round.