The wildfire smoke has forced me stay inside for the last few days and I’m checking off a few things on my to-do list that have otherwise been forgotten. Maybe not forgotten, but shelved for a later day because I’m putting off forward action when it’s easier to just coast along and keep doing the same ole same ole pattern. But, I’m inspired for change!
I have been an organizer of the Equestrians Institute Horse Trials for 10 years! I can’t believe it has been that long. Granted, the first few years were hunter paces, schooling shows, and combined tests to help us get the facility built and up and running. Doing those simpler shows is downright ‘easy’ compared to a full horse trials. I obviously love the full events and it has been extremely rewarding to put on a great show, even if it is hard and requires commitment.
For the last two years of organizing the HT I have seen myself put off things until the last minute, and I have recognized that I am investing less and less into the job than I should. It is time for me to bow out gracefully. I have a legacy of experience to bring to the table, but that is only useful if I also have energy and enthusiasm to go with it. Someone shiney and new needs raise their hand and discover that they have something to contribute and selflessly give back to our sport.
Cue 2020 to mess up everything….
2020 has thrown all kinds of monkeys into the wrenchworks. Our sport found ourselves on hiatus and we all have keenly missed our traditional summer of sport. Nothing is the same this year, and our Area VII witnessed nearly every organizer cancel their events and wait for a less riskier time. Those organizers who did not cancel, amended their events to be smaller and more socially distant. FEI classes are gone for our area and I guarantee there is not a single organizer who misses them. Yes, you riders miss them… but to the organizer, this is like running a downright ‘easy’ schooling show without the headache that FEI brings to the office side of an event.
What if Rebecca Farms and Aspen decide that they actually liked the smaller events and opt to bow out like I am doing?
Our sport will be dramatically changed for our area if that happens. Because those two events offer FEI, they also bring every other division up in class. Like the food pyramid, the lower levels of our sport are greatly enhanced by the upper levels. Our upper level riders and trainers give encouragement to the lower levels to keep striving and accomplish goals, they are an inspiration to many. Even if an adult amateur has no desire to compete at Preliminary, the network of people around them are financially supported by a sport that is thriving at all levels.
There is a non-zero risk that we lose events as fallout from Covid-19. This year has been sort of like a vacation to some organizers, it’s so much easier to stay home and tend the garden. Maybe I am only speaking for me here, but I have not missed organizing EIHT this year. The riders have missed them though. And if we stay asleep at the wheel and don’t care for the future of our events, there is potential for our sport to weaken.
So, with that happy tone, I encourage every rider to do something for an event. Make a pledge to improve our sport, and I have a few ideas here:
- Upper level riders with any type of sponsorship can make introductions to an organizer and help get great product as prizes. This would improve our prizes and make events refresh their awards. (This is actually not my idea, but Jonathan Elliott’s)
- Make a pledge to volunteer at the next event. If an organizer could count on each barn volunteering two people per day, it would improve our moods tremendously. That seems so doable, I almost want USEA to pass a rule that it is a requirement.
- Thank sponsors. We have all heard it before, but when was the last time you did it?
- Find a replacement for me as organizer for the Equestrians Institute Horse Trials
That last one is big. I think someone else needs to discover skills that they never knew they had. I will help train you and you will not be thrown into the pack of wolves. Well, it might feel that way, but at least I will give you a stick and a flashlight to help tame the wolves!