Volunteers, You Are Important!
Horse show planning is not for the faint of heart. It requires a tremendous amount of volunteer hours and very thick skin. One thing I’ve learned over the past decade is that, no matter how good the intentions, or how many people contribute their effort and expertise, something will always go wrong.
In life, I’ve learned that nothing is ever perfect. Why then, would I assume that a horse show or year-end award banquet would be? It’s funny really, to be a realistic person, who understands the complexities of life and the need for flexibility; but not to plan for that when organizing horse events. Why is that?
It’s true, no matter how proactive the planning and organizing, something always goes wrong or someone is always unhappy. I cannot personally change that. All that I can do is work with the best interests of the exhibitors and the organization in mind. I can reflect upon the successes and failures of the previous year and work in collaboration with others so that the successes grow and the failures diminish.
My fellow exhibitors, I would ask you for grace and a bit of your time. In order to host a successful event, it requires an average of $30,000. Did you know that? That’s the average cost of hiring judges, paying a facility, providing you with bedding, hiring show staff, purchasing awards, and various other expenses. The time and effort that goes into the planning and organizing is free! Yes, I said free. That’s because it’s done by volunteers.
Local and regional horse clubs don’t generally hire “event planners,” who handle all the tasks required to host a show. That’s done by people such as myself, who take time away from their jobs and families, so that we can all have an enjoyable experience. Please don’t misunderstand my point. I’m not seeking your praise, but rather your understanding and perhaps a little of your time. The time you give when volunteering at an event, or even before an event, is more valuable than you may realize.
Without volunteers, the horse show industry would die. We need YOU! We need you more than we ever have before! Clubs are non-profit organizations. They give back to the community, the money they make. They take what they have in the bank to plan and host the next event. That dollar amount dictates the amount that can be spent on prizes for you to win and facilities for you to show in.
When clubs can count on volunteers to help out at shows, they have more money to give back to the exhibitors. One of the complaints I hear most often is in regards to awards. I understand disappointment. I can understand the perspective of feeling that you have given a great deal of money for personal entry fees and feeling like you deserved a nicer award. I understand wanting to talk to others about your feelings as well. Please also understand that it’s hard not to take that personally, as someone who has worked very hard to get that award for you.
I’ve spent more than 10 years working with my local and regional horse clubs to plan shows. I’ve served on several committees and worked almost every job at a show. I’ve spent countless, literally, countless (I don’t even want to hazard a guess) hours planning, organizing, making charts, writing contracts, talking to people, hiring staff, and running all over the show grounds for various tasks.
I do these things because it makes my heart happy to be involved. I do these things because I believe you have no position to EVER complain about ANYTHING if you have not helped out. I do these things because I take pride in helping the organizations, that I am a member of, achieve success and to bring people with a common goal together. I do these things because I chose to do them. Despite the time and effort, I feel pride in the work that goes into horse show planning and the result of that planning.
Until next time,
Would you like to write a blog post about a topic in the horse industry? Email B.Bevis@EquineChronicle.com.