Friday’s Five – Volunteer jobs that will take your riding to the next level

Even Mark Todd volunteers at events! Here he is working as a show jumping steward at the 2016 Dauntsey Park H.T. Photo via @kiwieventer on Twitter.


Friday’s Five – Volunteer jobs that will take your riding to the next level

Events are always in need of volunteers and although offering up your time to help others is considered a selfless act…volunteering at Events can actually be very beneficial to your riding.

Here are some great opportunities for you to contribute to your sport but also take advantage of these interesting jobs to become a better rider.

1) Scribe: Sitting with a dressage judge all day and listening to them score and comment on dressage tests while you scribe is invaluable. You will gain a better understanding about what judges are looking for in a test so you can squeeze the maximum amount of marks out of your next test. Learning about common rider mistakes will make you more self aware of how you may be sabotaging your scores. This job might be a bit tiresome on your writing hand and a bit dull at times, but just think of it as a free dressage clinic.

2) Jump judge: Watching cross-country is something that no eventer can do enough of and jump judging forces you to do just that. Sitting in a chair, watching rider, after rider jump your fence will teach you more than you would expect. Pay attention; watch how the horses jump the fence and how their jumps vary depending on how their riders present them to the fence. Take special note of how the professionals ride – chances are you want to emulate them the next time you head out of the start box. Remember to pack a chair, water, snacks and sunscreen when you sign up for this job!



3) Help with course set-up: Assisting the course builders with the cross-country course set-up is a job that takes place anywhere from a few days to a few weeks before the event. This job will include tasks such as flagging, painting and decorating jumps. This is a good opportunity to learn about the course designer’s thought process, which will help you figure out how to answer the questions courses ask you and your horse. As a bonus, if you are into building your own cross-country jumps at home for schooling you can pick the course builder’s brain for some tips. Be ready to work at this job though, course builders move quickly!

4) Ring crew: Think of this as a game of ‘Pick Up Sticks’ that will improve your show jumping. Watching all of the show jumping rounds will teach you how you have to ride if you want to jump double clear. Watch how rides on the ins to lines influence the jumps on the out. Observe how different frame lengths on approach to a fence impact a horse’s jump. Focus on how riders making the time and jumping double clear rounds were riding. Did they move quickly on landing after the jumps? Were their turns tighter than the rest of the field? Being a ring crewmember will help shape you into an expert show jumper. Also you will not have to hit the gym for a few days, this job is a serious work out!

5) Bit check: Sticking your fingers in horses’ mouths all day is not a glamorous job but it will allow you plenty of time to spy on riders’ warm-ups. Watch how the professionals warm their different horses up. Are they starting long and low? How many transitions do they do? Is their routine greatly different on their different horses? If you see a pro on a horse that reminds you of your own horse, make notes on how they warm it up. This could be an easy way to find some exercises that will help your horse prepare for a perfect dressage test. Also keep your ears on alert for coaches telling their students tidbits of advice because you should be able to learn a few pointers that you can apply to your own riding. Sign yourself up for bit check at an event this year, to steal some warm-up secrets.

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