The Do’s And Don’ts: Eventing Etiquette

Lila and Skybreaker. OT Huntington H.T. 2014 Lila and Skybreaker. OT Huntington H.T. 2014

I’ve been eventing for the last nineteen years and have no intentions of slowing down. In the beginning, many of us found ourselves lost at sea, with blank looks on our faces when we stared at our foreign looking cross country maps, or found ourselves blubbering like babies after forgetting our dressage test TWICE!

The learning curve was quite steep, as there are so many rules and maps, and tests to remember. And yet, the years pass by and we eventually become more comfortable with memorizing dressage tests with a seconds notice, or learning our show jumping course two riders before we go, and we make it work. Amidst this chaos and high stress, we also learn the general protocol at these outings. In other words, there seems to exist certain Eventing Etiquettes, or at least there are some unspoken Do’s and Don’ts:

DON’T: If your dressage judge makes a comment, or critiques your ride at the finale of your test, which can occur on an occasion, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT question his or her comments with a sly or rude remark. If you know in your heart of hearts, you are right and the judge was incorrect, simply bite your tongue, smile, nod, and quietly leave the arena.

Nine hundred and ninety times, your dressage judge knows more than you do. Be respectful of this reality and do not act like a superior diva.

DO: Entitlement is a slippery and dangerous slope that will only cause pain in the end. You are not god’s gift to the earth, even if you think you are. When you walk around at a horse trial, don’t walk past volunteers, without saying thank you, or saying good morning. If you had time on cross country, but you are positive you came in under the time, find someone to speak with quietly and respectfully.

Do not point fingers, or make a big scene with the organizer, secretary, or fence judge, ESPECIALLY if you are 26th out of 26 riders.

DON’T: Do not get mad at people who are volunteering. Last summer I was at a local event and witnessed first-hand a friend who was voluntarily helping people park their trailers. One woman was outraged at the trailer parking spot she was given, so she proceeded by yelling at the poor guy who was just trying to help her, and then she proceeded by spinning her tires and leaving her spot in a huff. Seriously?

Get over yourselves and learn how to be more accommodating and selfless. Go with the flow and learn to be thankful and appreciative. It’s because of this girl and many others that volunteers are dropping off the eventing maps. BE NICE to those who volunteer and if you are an event rider, you should also volunteer whenever you have a chance.

DO: Smile and say thank you. I’m not an outgoing person at all, but I’ve learned how to get along with strangers and let other people know that I’m appreciative. A smile and a thank you go so much further than a frown and a few disgruntled remarks. We are all in the same boat. We have all been late to a show. We have all almost missed our dressage tests. We have all had something come up at an event, whether it be a shoe missing, or a horse that won’t load.

Lend a hand, be courteous and be kind. It takes years to build up trust from others, and only seconds to trash. There are certain individuals we all know who we pray we are not stabled next to, or people we specifically avoid by parking eight trailers away from them. Don’t become one of these annoying and entitled individuals.

For me, the list goes on and on — what’s on your list?