Olivia   August 14, 2017   26 Comments on Volunteering

My husband and I spent the weekend volunteering at the Woodside Summer Event. I started out on Friday doing an afternoon’s worth of dressage scribing. I’ve never scribed before and I was actually rather nervous. I had read that you really should have experience before scribing at a rated event and I had none. Friday morning I read a few how-to-scribe articles that made me feel a little better.

I needn’t have worried though. The judge I was assigned to was really nice and okay with having a beginner. She not only walked me through how to do all the scribing duties, but was a good judge to scribe for. She allowed abbreviations (apparently some judges don’t) and was very organized in her way of dictating to me. And better than all of that, when I told her I did dressage and eventing and wanted to do scribing to learn more, she basically turned the afternoon into a free 3+ hour clinic on dressage.

When we had breaks, she would talk to me about my own riding and explain concepts and things I could work on. She even did a brief lesson with a piece of string on actually moving my elbows and not bracing or twisting my wrists. She would also point out horses and riders in the warm up or the ring next to us and walk me through what the rider was doing well or what they could do to improve. A few times during the tests we were scoring, if there was a free second, she’d specifically ask me to look up and point out why she was scoring something the way she was. The whole afternoon was a fantastic lesson in dressage from a Grand Prix rider. And not only was it free, I even got a coupon for volunteering. I already want to do this again.

Woodside’s cross country course certainly has the whole scenic background going for it. #eventing #horseshow #horsetrials #volunteering #jumpjudging

A post shared by Olivia @ DIY Horse Ownership (@diyhorseownership) on

On Saturday, my husband and I volunteered as jump judges for Intermediate and Training cross country. I asked for jump 1 again because I really like that spot. It’s got shade and a nice view out over the course so I can see more than just one jump. I also like watching the start box. I find it really interesting to see how different people handle the start box. Some horses walk over calmly and just stand there, other literally need to be held in place by a handler on the ground. One person chose to canter in really tiny circles around the start box.

This little palomino pony doing training was adorable

The horse park treats volunteers pretty well. I got a whole box full of yummy food for lunch. And then a swarm of yellow jackets descended on my food and I had to go throw it all away. They eventually brought me some bee spray and I spend the rest of the afternoon spraying everything near and on me with it (it was peppermint oil so nontoxic). I also played whack a bee by actively spraying the pests whenever they came too close.

We each got another coupon for volunteering and had enough fun we decided to sign up to do it again the next day. Sunday we signed up for BN and got to do my favorite task, golf cart driver. I just really like driving golf carts. Plus, it’s a nice job during XC because you get to drive around and see all the different jumps instead of just the one you’re assigned to. My husband was with me and we alternating driving and walking collecting the sheets from the jump judges.

Golf-carting, across the universe (bonus nerd points if you know what I’m referencing)

We also ran extra sheets and bee spray out to the volunteers. At one point my husband took over for a jump while I took the volunteer to the bathroom and in the like 3 horses he was there for, he saw the only refusal (complete with retirement after a second refusal) at that jump all day. I guess he’s bad luck. Once again, we left with coupons for volunteering (I’m collecting them to put towards a future entry). But I really do it for the fun of it and because I like giving back to the sport. The coupon is just a nice bonus.

Anyone else enjoy volunteering at horse shows?

26 thoughts on “Volunteering

    1. Olivia Post author

      It’s a great system. I could definitely make more working, but I won’t turn down a free coupon. I think it helps them get some people out there and they need like 30 volunteers to run XC so they need an incentive.

    1. Sara

      I’m glad you had a great experience. Dressage scribe is one position that I’ve been hesitant to sign up for. Sounds like the judge you had was amazing and loves to teach.

      1. Olivia Post author

        I think it helped that I at least knew dressage so I could follow what she was saying. I can see why it’s both a desired volunteer position and a really hard one.

  1. Liz

    Damn, the free instruction from the dressage judge sounds amazing! I wish I had more local opportunities – I’d volunteer more. As is, I drive a minimum of 3 hours to do anything and without a coupon incentive, 6 hours on the road to volunteer isn’t high on my list of to-dos considering how much I have going on in my life already!

    1. Olivia Post author

      Yeah. I don’t know they’d I’d be willing to drive 3 hours to jump judge. Woodside is 15 minutes from our house. I would recommend doing scribing if you can though. It’d be worth the drive.

    1. Olivia Post author

      They have an online signup and I signed up pretty early to scribe. That and dressage was held Friday and must people need to work probably helped me get it.

  2. emma

    sounds like a great way to spend a weekend! i had a blast jump judging last week – it’s just fun to feel like we’re participating in the sport as more than just competitors!

  3. SarahO

    I love scribing. I always learn so much and I like feeling involved in the dressage community and getting to know people behind the scenes at the shows. We don’t get any volunteer coupons but that’s a nice idea. Instead I pay 600km worth of gas money and a night’s hotel just so I can volunteer =P

    1. Olivia Post author

      This judge was great. I’d actually really like to get schooling passes, but the Woodside event is run by a different organization that basically rents the horse park and thus they cannot give out schooling passes.

  4. KC Scott

    That looks like a lot of fun! Especially scribing for dressage, I can only imagine how beneficial that would be. I’ve never been able to volunteer because nothing is really local to me, and when I’m showing, I usually have my kids and husband with me. I wish I could, though, because volunteering is really what makes horse trials possible.

  5. Kaity

    This sounds so fun! Unfortunately, the shows that really need volunteers arent all that close to me, but I’d love to try sometime!

Comments are closed.