I mean, mid-February is basically spring in Texas, so it makes sense. I volunteered at an event yesterday from 7:30-4:30, and only remembered to slap on a little sunscreen at noon when I turned in the materials for one job and picked up the materials for the next. Thank goodness for sunshirts, but the left side of my face and both of my hands are pretty pink today. Awkward sunburns are a basic part of equestrian life, right?
I was originally going to enter this show, but… um… totally forgot to send my entry in until a couple weeks before. By that point there was a wait list a mile long so I didn’t even bother, and instead emailed the volunteer coordinator and offered myself up for the day. Then of course last week there was a chance of rain in the forecast and a ton of people scratched at the last minute (we need to talk, Texas eventers, I mean come on…) so I actually WOULD have gotten in. But oh well. And all of that was completely for nothing, really, because the weather was absolutely perfect and the footing held up really well.
Originally I was supposed to work Bit Check in the morning and then XC jump judge in the afternoon, but then they needed someone to fill in as a Warmup Steward for dressage and I got plugged into that hole. I used to get the little morning jobs that were un-eff-up-able (like scoresheet runner) but this one was like… legit responsibility. I got stuck in some traffic just a few minutes away from the venue and took the opportunity to review the job description again.
Pine Hill has the absolute best volunteer program. They have videos about each job, as well as in-depth written instructions. You know your assignments at least a couple days in advance, so you can review all of the materials before you get there and show up feeling a little more educated and confident about what you need to do. Plus there’s a nifty rewards program for their volunteers where you earn various little pieces of “Pine Hill” gear as you accumulate hours. In my previous years as an eventer I’d done pretty much the bare minimum of volunteering, and mainly just as an XC jump judge (because that’s the easiest and most fun job if you’re an eventer). I’ve really enjoyed getting more involved in volunteering over the last year though, and I’ve definitely developed a greater appreciation of and respect for all of the people that are necessary to make an event happen. We are a sport that relies very heavily on a large force of volunteers, it’s really so important.
I survived the morning as Warmup Steward without any real issues, thanks to riders being on point and paying attention. We wrapped up about 10 minutes early, which gave me ample time to hike back up the hill, pee, grab my chair, and go pick up my stuff for jump judging. I’ve pretty much never been at a jump that had many problems before, so when I saw that I had the water I was like “oh boy”. And there were definitely a few issues there throughout the day, a couple falls and some refusals, but all things considered it went pretty well. It’s extra fun to watch the water at a show that has a lot of green horses or less experienced riders… there were tons of very excited GOOD BOY’s and GOOD GIRL’s and celebrations when riders were proud of how their mount handled it. I’ve been there and know how that feels, so it’s cute to watch.
It was a long day, leaving my house at 5:30am and getting home at 6:30pm. I was tiiiiiiiiiiiired when I got home… like… more tired than if I had actually shown. It was worth it though. You can’t ask for much more than a beautiful day spent amongst friends and horses, even if I am a little bit pink (in patches) today.