If you volunteer at any large national event, there is no end to the excitement you feel almost year round when you see photos or read messages remotely related to “your jump.”
When you spend eight hours intimately acquainted with a hunk of wood setting on the earth in front of you, watching horse and rider after horse and rider jumping it, you get sort of a kinship thing going.
You and your jump. You love each other. You feel its pain when someone stops, runs out, or squeaks over the top. You fix its flowers should an errant hoof disarray its beauty. Your jump lets you take a selfie with it when the day is done, to honor it forever. Because each year is different. You may never get to judge that jump again, so you make the most of your time with your jump.
After the event you search frantically on social media for photos of your jump with various riders. If you’re really lucky you get to find one with the winner over it, looking really good, and if you’re very lucky, you might be able to see your humble self in the background, bundled in a portable chair or swatting mosquitos in abominable heat. That’s our “win”.
Volunteers get that we are small cogs in the big picture. The glory always goes to the big winners. We know this, but there is huge satisfaction in being part of that big picture and hopefully being appreciated as a vital cog in that wheel.
Here’s a cool positive view — the recent posting by EN of the new USET performance lists, and it was illustrated by a photo of this wonderful jump at Fair Hill International. Painted by Sue, decorated by Holly (and Janine) and jump judged by another volunteer.
And many, many more volunteers at the event supporting the competition, helping, fixing, standing, monitoring, lifting and carrying, opening and closing, gathering up, putting away. And cleaning up — removing the decorations, packing up, taking home. It’s just cool to see “your jump” in the news.
Others might say, “wow, look at that horse,” or “doesn’t she have beautiful form,” but I say, “look at my palm tree!”