Competing and Volunteering? Why, yes, you can!

Robyn Armer (left) with a fellow volunteer wait for a competitor to enter the ring.

By Penny Morse

This article won the 2022 GMO Newsletter Award for a general-interest article for GMOs with 500 or more members. It originally appeared in the Georgia Dressage and Combined Training Association newsletter, Collected Remarks, July/August 2022.

The USDF Group Member Organization (GMO) Newsletter Awards are designed to recognize outstanding efforts by GMOs that produce newsletters. Awards in two categories will be presented for exemplary articles. Nominations are due by August 31st. Only an official representative of a GMO may submit the nomination. For a nomination form follow this link.

As the volunteer pool decreases due to age and relocation, it becomes the responsibility of our younger enthusiasts to step up and realize that without the volunteers we would not have the shows to attend as well as the cost of entering would result in many showing less and rethinking their goals. Horses are expensive, we all are aware of that, but right now, with hard work and a lot of sacrifices from the rider and their family, some can fulfill their dream. BUT, and yes there is always a but, with inflation and the running costs of shows, be it recognized or schooling, there is no room for facilities to take on the cost of paying stewards, scribes, jump judges and arena crew and continue as they are going today. Entries will go up and it will be higher than the average competitor is able to pay. With the cost of boarding, feed, hay, and everything else that goes with keeping a horse, rising at an alarming rate, there are so many hanging up their dress boots, to return another day when expenses are not such a concern.

So this means volunteering is important and necessary today, more than ever before, if we want to see our sport continue. Sadly, we have many young riders and some older riders, who think that helping a couple of times is good enough along with those who feel they are too busy showing, and they do not need to volunteer. I guess they have never learned that giving back and paying forward is not only important but is self-satisfying. If the hours, I have personally volunteered over the years means that I was part of making the shows possible for the majority then I did something right along with so many others. When I see young riders making a point of giving back, I know that they ‘get it.’ These are the riders who are getting up and working in the barn every day, riding as much as they can, learning as much as the can, and not complaining because its hot or it’s cold or they are tired, but getting on with taking care of their chores, and when they are not showing, they are ready to jump judge, or pick up poles, or run scores.

Livy Chambers is a young rider of 13 years who understands she is incredibly lucky, but at the same time does not take any of that for granted. She is one of five children of non-horse parents, who just wanted to ride.

Her parents taught her about sacrifices to get what you want, and she listened. She has been fortunate in now having two horses to compete on, one at Training and another at Modified, but on her journey, she has placed first, placed last, been eliminated. She takes care of the family barn starting at 6.30 every morning and is not allowed to skip! She knows if she wants to be part of this life, she does all the work. Her parents Wibby and Josh Chambers have installed a healthy work ethic in their daughter, but they have also encouraged her to give back. Livy has been volunteering for several years. She started by running scores, picking up poles and then Jump Judging. She is now ready to learn the art of stewarding. She has never asked for a particular job, just whatever was needed she was there. When she finished competing, she was ready to jump in and pick poles. I have a handful of young riders, who just like Livy appreciate they are lucky and are more than ready to give back. These young riders are important role models for our sport. I hope that their enthusiasm for being part of the whole riding experience and not just competing can influence more of our competitors both young and old!

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