A Real-Talk Salute to Our Sport’s Volunteers

Bonnie Kibbie, a Volunteer Coordinator for Plantation Field H.T., shared this message on Facebook following their June event last weekend, and kindly allowed us to share here on EN. Many thanks to Bonnie and all the volunteers out there whose generous giving of time and effort truly makes the sport of eventing possible!

Photo via the Plantation Field Volunteers Facebook page.

Real talk: just spent 14 hours at a horse show we weren’t sure we’d have enough volunteers for, but once again this horse community pulled through and not only was the day not a disaster, it went pretty darn well. Still came home bone tired and with pregnancy cankles you wouldn’t believe, to the most pathetic exorcist puking toddler with a fever and the knowledge we’re going to get up to do the same thing all over again tomorrow. I was exhausted and a little overwhelmed just thinking about it all, until I checked my text messages.

Recruiting volunteers is tough; it’s a lot to ask of people — it’s a tiring day in often unpredictable weather, it’s a big time commitment for a precious weekend day, and, especially if you’re new to it, it’s a lot of information to take in and execute well. We try to make the day easier by feeding our volunteers, letting them know we appreciate them, and offering incentives when we can thanks to our amazing sponsors … but let’s be real. No one spends nine hours in the blazing sun and dust or pouring rain for a t-shirt and a sandwich, or even a gift card.

They do it because they love the sport and love the animals (or, OK, sometimes because their competing significant other made them) and they just want to be there. For the ones who also compete it’s a great way to give back to a sport that directly benefits them (and we love, love, LOVE when our riders volunteer!), but so many volunteers are not eventers, and some aren’t even riders. It always blows my mind how willing people are to give up so much time for a sport they may not have known anything about before they showed up to volunteer.

Anyway, when I checked my phone tonight I had this text from a volunteer who joined us for the first time today. She spent nine hours on course, called in her fences (yes, she had multiple at one point) like a boss, and I’m not entirely sure she even took a bathroom break (kidding, we encourage all our volunteers to take potty breaks!). And SHE thanked US for LETTING her be a part of today!

Louder for the people in the back: *She* thanked *us* for LETTING HER be a part of a horse trials. I almost cried.

RIDERS, IF YOU ARE NOT SMILING AT AND THANKING EVERY SINGLE VOLUNTEER YOU COME ACROSS AT AN EVENT I WANT YOU TO GO HOME AND RE-EVALUATE WHO YOU ARE AS A PERSON. Because you sure don’t deserve to be an eventer. These happy, willing, wonderful people show up and do the best they can so YOU can go out and have fun.

Thankfully we also have some pretty awesome competitors at our events and I like to think our volunteers are treated well by those showing, but for anyone competing it’s easy to overlook how much others are doing for you when you’re wrapped up in your own day. And competitors really can’t afford to overlook it, because if those people weren’t there, the competitors wouldn’t be either. Events don’t run without these incredible people. Period.

If you didn’t make it through the emotional ramblings of this overtired, pregnant and hormonal volunteer coordinator, my point is … thank a volunteer. Or better yet, BE a volunteer! We’ve got the very best team around and we’d love to have you on it. #besteventever#bestvolunteersever #plantationfield #beavolunteer #becauseofSeema

Are you doing your part? Visit eventingvolunteers.com, a connection point between volunteers and event organizers, to get involved. Here are six USEA events that could use a helping hand this week!