The Importance of Giving Back


The AECs are coming! The AECs are coming! The countdown clock is ticking. Riders are preparing. Vendors are purchasing, and organizers are, well, organizing. And the volunteer coordinators, well they are sweating.

OK. OK. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Uh Oh. Here comes another diatribe on volunteering …” And you would be right.

See here’s the deal: I had a pretty bad riding accident several years ago the that resulted in what my husband calls “the bionic arm” because of all the pins and screws holding it together. I didn’t ride for over a year; I had been leasing a horse when I fell, so after the accident he went back to his owner, and I was horseless.

Even after I bought my fabulous gelding Syd, I didn’t begin to  think about hitting the show circuit for several years. He was young, and I had fear issues. While I was working through all of that, I desperately wanted and needed to stay involved in the sport that I loved.

I started volunteering. I scribed; I jump judged; I painted fences; I picked up brush and hauled it to a burn pile; I was a show secretary, a ring steward; I made sandwiches … You get the picture: Wherever there was a need; you name it, I did it!

And I am SO GLAD I did! You have no idea the wealth of information I picked up about my sport from doing all these different jobs. Even better then that: I met so many wonderful people. Horse people are some of the best folks around, and they love to talk “horse” with other horse people.

I have talked horse with everyone from an 8-year-old kid who aspires to ride at Rolex one day to the volunteer coordinator FOR Rolex. I never would have met them without volunteering. I have scribed for some of the highest ranking dressage judges in our sport and bit checked with adults who have never ridden a horse but are supporting their kids. You name it; I’ve done it, and I am SO GLAD I did.

So here’s what I really want to impress upon you: Show season is just about to really kick into high gear. I know we all can’t wait! Most of your local shows, and even most of your area’s recognized events, would NEVER happen without their volunteers.

Volunteering isn’t difficult; you don’t have know anything at all; they’ll usually teach you, and it doesn’t have to be all weekend. Most shows are happy to have you for an hour or two. And I happen to know firsthand we ALL have an hour or two at shows we could spare.

With the AECs right around the corner, the organizers are anxiously hoping to fill all the spots needed to make the event run smoothly. This year is the last year the AECs will be held at Texas Rose Horse Park, which is in my home Area, Area V. Since I’m not competing this year, I am looking forward to volunteering.

It’s cool to be a part of the team that’s making it all happen and watch some phenomenal horses and riders having the time of their lives. As an extra incentive, you even get some swag.

So make all my fellow show secretaries and show organizers happy and volunteer a little bit of your time, if not at the AECs, at your local event or schooling show. You might be surprised at what you’ll learn or who you’ll meet. And hey! You MIGHT just have fun in the process.