The members of Show Committees across the province are ramping up for the Alberta Dressage show season.
These dedicated few are working on developing and publishing their show prize lists following Equine Canada rules. They will be booking Dressage Judges and budgeting for the judge’s flight and accommodation. Volunteers are assigned to host the judge for the duration of the show. This includes, transportation to and from the show grounds, helping to sort out lost luggage, looking after any requests and providing hospitality for the judges and officials during the show.
Show dates for national shows must be approved by Dressage Canada. Show grounds, need to be rented, if the organizers don’t have their own venue. One of the show committee will negotiate the use of the rented facility, including stabling, bedding, feed (if available), warm-up areas, footing maintenance, parking, washrooms, show office area, food service and all the possible contingencies of a show. Paramedics need to be engaged, and if the show is of international standard, there are security measures that need to be undertaken.
The show secretary and the show office staff, will process the entries as they come in and give each entry a competitor’s number for the show. The show program, and day sheets ( updates to ride times) are their responsibility. They also assign stabling, complete class schedules and ride times. They will prepare the tests sheets in order of the competitors, then once the rides are finished, calculate and post the results of each class. Show office volunteers make sure each competitor has the proper documentation, passports, Coggins test, CD music for Kurs (2 copies) all filed correctly under the rider’s assigned number. These people have all the answers, they direct other volunteers, they keep lost and found items and find the owners of lost pets and children. They are angels without wings. There is software available now to assign ride times and help with scoring, but even so the scope of work that show office people are responsible for is absolutely amazing. They work from before the first to after the last ride everyday during the show.
The show committee hosts the sponsors. If our show organizers and volunteers are like gold, then our sponsors are the diamonds. We value their commitment to our sport. We are thankful for those whose backing of our shows allow us to have a chance to win back our entry fees, or take home a cooler, ribbon or saddle pad. Many sponsor appreciation events are held during the Kur, or freestyle classes. Volunteers make sure the sponsors are well looked after, fed and watered and afforded all the special attention deserving of a patron to our sport.
When it comes time to set the venue for the competition, many hands make light work. Dressage rings, though portable, must be set up so that they are square, on good footing, that the letters are properly placed and the entrance is opposite the judges table. This is not as easy as it seams. If there are enough volunteers, and an experienced foreman, the task runs very smoothly. Ring set up usually happens early in the afternoon, the day before the show begins. If you are arriving at the show grounds, and have settled your horse, received your show package (put together by the show office volunteers) ask if there is anything you can do to help. Ring set up and take down help is one of the big ways we as riders can contribute to the efforts of the show committee.
During the show, someone must sit at the judges table and write down the riders scores and the judges comments on the score sheet. These are the Scribes. They are usually volunteers at our shows. Scribing is an excellent opportunity to learn more about what the expectations are in the sport of Dressage. Your handwriting (printing) should be neat and legible,. A scribe should be able to write in a readable short hand, for sometimes the judge’s comments and marks seem to come quickly. Don’t hesitate to volunteer as a scribe, judges and the show office value your effort and it is a fantastic way to become closer to the sport.
Tests are scored and somehow they must get to the show office to be calculated in percentages, recorded and the marks ranked. This is where the runner comes in. You don’t have to run, you can bike. I have seen runners run tests on electric scooters. If you volunteer to be a runner, you will either be responsible for running for one “test”, say first level test 3 or for a time period from 11:30 until 12:45. It depends on how many riders (or family/friends) volunteer to help as runners.
Other volunteer positions include, ring announcers and DJ’s for the Kurs, whippers-in (informing riders when they should head to the competition ring), general help and clean-up in the officials and sponsors hospitality area, making sure officials have refreshments during the competition, closing the “gate” after the rider has entered at “A” in FEI or Freestyle classes, pouring wine or setting up welcome events for competitors or sponsors. It is an exhaustive list and the Show committee members need our help to make the shows run smoothly. Please offer your help at the next show, I know it is much appreciated.