Pony Club is an organization that is largely run by Volunteers. A volunteer by definition is someone who willingly gives their time to help with a task. These tasks can be for the betterment of an organization, to give back to the community, or even to help a friend. In Pony Club, most of the volunteers are parents and friends of the organization. In most horse show situations volunteers are made up of friends of the organizer, boarders and students of the host farm, and any person from the host organization willing to give back time. The time volunteers give to the organizers is gold. Most organizers are even so grateful they offer their volunteers gifts such as t-shirts, free lunches, and schooling days just to encourage people to give time.
What many don’t realize is that volunteering is more than just long days and gifts as incentives. Volunteering can be one of the most rewarding ways to support an organization you believe in. Lots of us compete on a regular basis and never actually “give back” to the sports we enjoy. What most of us don’t realize is what it is like to be on the other side of things. There is no way to describe the joy on a riders face when they finish a course that has intimidated them, or seeing a rider conquer a fence on cross-country for the same reasons. You can learn so much from being a scribe for a judge. There is a whole vantage point most of us never dreamed of sitting in that little judges box. Being a ring steward allows you to learn the many different ways people train and warm-up their horses. There are also jobs such as setting up courses and running scores. These jobs give us insight into how hard the organizer works to create these massive undertakings.
As a competitor, listening to direction from a volunteer, checking-in at the appropriate time, and being courteous, are actions you should take. You can make a volunteers day by just saying a simple “thank you.” Just that small phrase can make a hot and sweaty, freezing cold, or soaking wet volunteer perk up just a little bit and remember why they do this. Remember that volunteers are just that. They are a messenger, a place holder, a time keeper, or points person. They are someone who can hopefully answer questions or get an answer from the correct person. They are not the person to complain to when you are late, or you got eliminated, or don’t agree with a rule or placement of a jump. They can’t change a score or make a ruling.
Without volunteers, these same competitions, Rally’s, Championships, even lessons, wouldn’t take place. For most people, time is a precious commodity. There just isn’t enough of it. What people also don’t realize is if they don’t make time to help out, there won’t be those horse shows and lessons we all enjoy. For without the mighty volunteer a show cannot go on. So, think about giving back. It doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice a whole day. It means if you compete or take a lesson in the morning, give some time in the afternoon. If that doesn’t work, there is always work to be one in set-up and tear-down. As with any horse related activity there is always work to be done. Organizers and leaders will use any help they can get. As a good rule, for every horse show you attend, find another one to volunteer at. Give back, learn more, be a good example.