When we sign up to join Leinster Dressage (or any region of Dressage Ireland), one of the criteria is that wee volunteer to help at regional or national shows.
For those of us who volunteer regularly or who have organised and run shows, this is second nature to us and the roles are familiar but for anyone who has not done it before it may be something that they worry about doing as they do not know what to do or they do not know what role would best suit them. This piece is designed to help anyone who wants to volunteer but isn’t sure what is required or what would best suit them. The key roles are summarised below.
Volunteering is a great way to learn more about how shows are run, what goes on behind the scenes, how higher level riders warm up and how judges score competitors.
Key skills - good time keeping, a loud clear voice, confidence in speaking to new people.
Benefits - meeting new people, observing the warm up routine of horses and riders.
The volunteer in the warm up arena has a list of competitors and their times. they tick off riders as they enter the warm up and keep the riders updated as to how many riders/minutes there are before their test. The warm up volunteer lets organisers know of any no shows and makes sure that there are not too many people in the warm up and that competitors are riding in a safe manner in line with the rules. All paperwork is pre-prepared and supplied for you as is tea/coffee and snacks from the organisers. Having a clear voice and a friendly approach is an asset to this role.
Key skills - legible handwriting, good organisational skills, good verbal communication, good listening skills.
Benefits - Understanding what score the judges award and why, learning the importance of the FEI training scale in dressage judging, understanding the marks and comments awarded by judges, observing the test from the judges’s point of view, developing your eye for the horses way of going.
Scribing is an excellent job for anyone who enjoys watching dressage and learning more about riding dressage and how competition tests are scored. Scribes will sit in their own car in the passenger side , parked beside the judge who sits in the drivers seat so that a safe distance is maintained but each can still hear each other. The organising committee will provide lists of competitors and their times, copies of all tests and any necessary stationary.
The role of the scribe is to write down on the test sheets the scores and comments awarded by the judge for each competitor on each movement of the tests. The judge will then take the sheet and add the collective scores and final comments. The scribe or judge will pass the sheets to the sheet collector. if you have never done scribing before, starting with the lower test levels where the test is shorter and the movements come up at a less rapid pace will help to build confidence.
Key skills - being mobile enough to move around the venue.
Benefits - a great way to get those extra steps in!
Sheet collecting is exactly what it says on the tin. The sheet collector approaches the judge’s car ( from the side/behind so as not to impede their view of a rider and between tests so as not to interrupt) collects all completed sheets which they return to the scorer.
Key skills - a mind for figures, quick ability with numbers, experience with spreadsheets is an advantage.
Benefits - scoring is an inside job and very quiet and peaceful so it is well suited to someone good with numbers that likes to work in concentration.
Sheets are supplied by the sheet collectors for inputting into the scoring system and calculation of results which are produced onsite and published on line.
Key skills - a friendly manner, enough mobility to move around the venue.
Benefits - this is a quick and easy role that allows you to get in extra steps while interacting with others.
The tea/coffee runner approaches the judge’s car while no tests are ongoing and takes not of any drinks and snacks the judge and scribe would like, gets the order from the onsite catering and delivers to the judge and scribe. this is always a well thanked job - who doesn’t love thee bringer of snacks?
Key skills - adaptability and people skills.
Benefits - great way to get to know people and to try a variety of roles.
Every show will have a chief organiser who will be glad of an extra pair of hands! they may need assistance with tasks such as distributing judges and scribes packs , to putting out sheets and results to making sure competitors park in the right place.
You do need to be a Leinster Dressage member to volunteer to help at a show.
How to volunteer
The show schedule is held online. if there is a show that would suit you to volunteer, get in touch with the region a few weeks before the show to offer your assistance.
Lorna O’Hare - Leinster Dressage Committee