Have you ever wanted to get involved with an equine sport or charity but not on the back of a horse? We have come up with a few different ways of getting involved with horses whilst keeping your feet firmly on the ground.
Volunteering at events/competitions
Competitions whether affiliated or not rely upon the generosity of volunteers giving up their time to help run their events. Volunteering is a great way of developing a new social group of fellow volunteers and getting closer to a sport that you love and enjoy. Your time is often rewarded with lunch, maybe even a bottle of something and sometimes even branded clothing. There are many ways to get involved and different roles you can volunteer for including:
- Fence Judging – Usually done in pairs, you will have to mark each competitor at your fence and radio an update through to cross country control. A little description goes a long way to help the commentator as well …"Number 26 over fence 6 with some vocal encouragement followed by a lot of patting on landing"!
- Score Collection – Usually on a quad bike, car, pony or on foot.
- Dressage Writing – Remember if the competitor can read your writing on their sheet then you’re not writing fast enough!
- Dressage Stewarding – Good organisational skills are required to keep track of all of the competitors warming up and make sure they are at the right arena on time and finally, have patience when a competitor asks you how many more to go until them…for the 7th time?!
- Scoreboard Writer – A handy assistant is very useful to make sure you write in the right box as the scoreboard can become a blur after 8hrs of looking at it.
- Scoring Team – Adding up dressage sheets is harder than it looks, quick arithmetic is required…but being handy with a calculator will get you through if you haven’t used maths since school! It’s also handy to note that this is often a job done undercover in the dry
- Secretary – Not for the faint hearted, this is a big undertaking - have you remembered to order the porterloos?
- Lorry/Car Park – Making sure everyone gets in and out safely and parks in an orderly fashion, good luck!
- Catering – If you’re good at catering on a mass scale then this is the role for you.
- Programme Sales – You need your sweetest smile, be prepared to approach strangers and skills in sales come in useful.
- Arena Party – Pretty much like going to the gym, sprinting and weight lifting all day.
- XC Control Team – Ensuring the cross country runs smoothly, keeping people up date with scores and competitors progress around the course.
If you would like to get involved with your local events/competitions the best way is to get in touch with your local branches or regional coordinators. Larger organisers such as British Eventing, British Dressage and British Show jumping often have their own volunteer database that you can sign up to as well.
Volunteering with a charity
Volunteering with charities such as Riding for the Disabled (RDA) can be hugely rewarding as well as enormously appreciated by the charity. With the RDA you can work with riders watching them learn and progress and seeing the enjoyment they find in horse riding can be an immensely satisfying and fulfilling experience. The RDA and other equine charities again rely on volunteers to help their work run smoothly. You can find more information on how to get involved with the RDA and find your local group on their website www.rda.org.uk
Keep an eye on other equine charity sites too such as The Horse Trust and Redwings Horse Sanctuary as they occasionally have opportunities for volunteers too, but they are popular so get snapped up quickly.
Volunteering can not only be a great social life, very rewarding and a great way to get involved with your favourite sport or organisation but can also lead to once in a lifetime opportunities. Remember even the Olympics rely on volunteers to run so you never know where volunteering might take you…..Tokyo 2020 anyone?!
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