Monday, July 6, 2020

Volunteering #CovidStyle

Hope everyone had a good weekend!! Esp if it involved some fireworks :D

My plans got a little shuffled around, but worked out alright enough. Originally I had planned to check out the FEI cross country at MDHT's first big event of the year.... but sadly, no spectators allowed. Womp.

#CovidStyle
So instead, I got my horse show fix by volunteering in the show jumping warm up ring for the I / P / M / T classes.

This was my first time volunteering since the coronavirus pandemic fandango, so I figured it might be worth running through how things are different right now.

one of the check-in stations along the driveway. sorry for the glare off my windshield!
Perhaps most importantly -- there's a lot more paperwork. I guess it's a liability / insurance thing, but really any venue looking to hold any sort of event right now has gotta cross every 't' and dot every 'i.'

At Loch Moy, this involved a few "checkpoints" along the driveway into the venue.

this wristband makes me feel like horse shows are the new night clubs LOL
At the first checkpoint, they take your temperature and hand you a wrisband + some forms to sign. At the second checkpoint, those forms are collected as in the earlier picture.

Hilariously, this volunteer just aimed a giant fishing net toward my car window for me to place the forms, which were then immediately dumped into a large bin.

guys this hand washing station was LEGIT!
From there, tho, everything proceeded basically as normal, with just a few small distinctions -- like these super sweet hand washing stations!!

And obviously, everyone had masks and was very sensitive about not encroaching in personal space. Each horse was allowed I think one additional "help" person (meaning, riders who had multiple horses could have multiple helpers), but otherwise there were no spectators.

there might be a global pandemic going on, but pros still gotta pro!!
Which... Let's be real, there aren't really all that many spectators at your typical national horse trial anyway. Unless it's the Kentucky 5*, or just a verrry few FEI events (like the 4*-L formerly held at Fair Hill, or Jersey Fresh and Plantation's big events), eventing in the US really just doesn't seem to draw much of a crowd.

Especially when compared to similar events in the UK and Europe, where whole families seem to come out to spend the day picnicking in the park watching horse sports. Idk, it always just kinda amazes me tho LOL!

and gosh i just love watching the warm up ring.
nbd, just Liz Halliday Sharp and Allison Springer jumping in sync...
Anyway, tho, back to the point. Loch Moy is always super organized anyway, so it's no surprise that they have individual plastic tubs for each volunteer stand -- whether that's the dressage, SJ or XC warm ups, in gates, start box, etc., materials for scribes, judges, timers, you name it.

Everything is pre-sorted into labeled lidded tubs. Clipboard, order of go, radio, pens, markers, and a few other extra odds and ends just in case. Each volunteer station also gets an umbrella and stand, chairs, and a cooler packed with various beverages.

could see most of the show jump ring from my station!
As far as I'm concerned, tho, so long as I have a clipboard and order of go, I'm happy.

Personally, my favorite volunteer positions are in the warm up rings. Ideally for jumping, but really any warm up ring is fine. It's always such an interesting energy and atmosphere -- everyone is so focused in anticipation of what's to come, ya know?


Plus, personally I enjoy watching the riding that happens in warm up rings, too. Seeing how people prepare, and all that. How the pros might be doing it differently than the amateurs. Or how riders at the higher levels do things differently from me.

For instance, the typical SJ warm up ring has a crossrail, vertical and oxer jump. I've mostly done N and below, and at those heights, you don't need a whole heckuva lot of build up. Like, Charlie is absolutely fine warming up for jumping with his second fence being at 3'. And actually, the one time we did T, I just went for the at-height fences right away too.

could spy on the vet box too!
But actually, riders at the higher levels spent a lot more time adjusting fences in the warm up (generally with the assistance of a trainer or working student). Starting lower then building up. Some asked for different configurations of placing poles and/or ground lines. And most seemed to want to end on first a big square oxer then one last trip over a high vertical.

Interesting food for thought haha.

guys, this visor mask shield thingy is a game changer --- my sun glasses even fit under it!!!
Honestly, tho, there isn't always a ton of time for concentrating on watching when you're checking in riders and funneling horses to the in gate.

My method for approaching the warm up ring madness is basically to impose my order on the chaos haha. I've got the list and the ride times, and generally want to stick to that list as closely as possible within reason.

It's worth checking with the judge about that, tho, since most optimally prefer to keep a horse in the ring at all times. If that means taking horses slightly out of order, so be it. Considering there are usually pros with multiple horses per division, you gotta be flexible anyway to keep them moving so that they can get all the horses done in time.

Generally, riders seem happiest when they know what to expect re: timing. Common questions to the steward might be about whether the ring is running ahead or behind, and how many horses are in front of any particular rider. So long as you can answer those questions, most riders don't mind if you deviate from the order of go.

lol and even glitter nail polish can't fix the horrors of the #HorseShowTan (hint: is actually dirt LOL)
Overall, it was interesting how little the whole scene has changed with respect to Covid. Aside from the masks and extra consciousness about social distancing, the show went on as normal.

Like, even tho it was an intensely hot day, we had very few scratches. Honestly everyone just seemed happy to be out at all. Which ya know, me too, haha...

It was good to get out into that environment again -- esp in a way that felt safe with realistic risk mitigation. Esp since this event finally pushed me over the 100hr threshold for volunteering at USEA recognized events (not counting the many many more hours spent at local schooling or non-USEA stuff in recent years). Which is kinda cool lol.

Would be cooler if USEA recognized stuff like that lol... Rewards programs attainable by mere mortals like myself with day jobs. Like... WTF USEA, do you realize your lowest national recognition level starts at 500 hours -- the equivalent of working full time for 4 months???

Oh well. It's still nice to hit 100, even if it's a meaningless number haha. And nicer still to be out at a show! Who knows what will happen this fall, but I'm hopeful about getting a chance to get Charlie out at least once or twice if possible too!




26 comments:

  1. It was so surreal to not spend almost all spring at loch moy. Yesterday for the lower divisions the place had more trailers than I've literally ever seen before. It was insane!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. that's awesome! i was sad to hear entries were down, but the folks who were there seemed to have a great time!

      Delete
  2. I understand why places aren't allowing spectators, but my husband and I are those random people who like to show up and watch occasionally. We can't do that... can't go to polo for the same reason... I'm SO bored!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yea.... idk it's hard to understand the spectator rules for these types of shows given how spread out everything is and the outdoor setting. but at the same time, i get that the USEA and FEI are under a ton of pressure, and are fairly small fish compared to the racing industry etc that is having to make even tougher choices. still tho, i was pretty disappointed to be told not to come out to spectate :(

      Delete
  3. Srsly bless you for volunteering. I was so grateful to all the volunteers at Chatt who were in 100 degree heat in masks all day.

    I love watching warmup also- even more so than the actual tests/rounds. So much info to be had. And I saw A LOT of upper level riders in the Intermediate division starting with either a super low vertical/oxer, with one former Olympian even starting with a CROSS RAIL.

    That's crazy that 100 hours of volunteering for someone with a FT job isn't even on USEA's radar!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i'm so childishly annoyed at the USEA's volunteer recognition programs haha. like, c'mon yo. would it really kill you to send out like a t-shirt or baseball hat or literally anything??? siiiiigh lol...

      also yea, i saw a couple crossrails in the big divisions, and a couple placing poles too! definitely super interesting to watch! kinda wish there were more opps for like... "ring side clinics" to learn from a pro what people are doing and why, ya know?

      Delete
  4. There have been a few one day shows around here, and they have had great attendance (no spectators though)! I think everyone is excited to get back out there.
    Sounds like you had a great spot!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. definitely so excited to get back out there. and honestly, while i've had a few experiences in the last couple months that made me nervous about crowds etc, the show atmosphere actually felt more or less pretty safe. here's hoping we can keep it that way!!

      Delete
  5. omg your feet!!!! what a way to end a post lol

    The waiver I think is standard fair from USEF being like "we sanction these shows that might kill you but by coming you take full responsibility" lol Which I definitely just signed on for a horse show in August. I think the Net and bin method is very interesting for getting the paperwork back and I'd love to see it in person in action.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i wish i wasn't so slow in nabbing that picture haha bc yea i loved the fishing net!! and maybe if i had gotten that extra picture i wouldn't have needed to include the one of my werewolf-esque feet LOLOL

      Delete
  6. Good for you for volunteering. And 100 hours? Wow, that's pretty good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks! and the 100 just counts USEA sanctioned events - overall volunteerism in the last couple years is way higher. pretty sure i logged somewhere around 80 hours in 2018 alone just by keeping track for Sara's volunteer challenge....

      but ya know - i love volunteering. it's fun and easy and a great way to support the sport and horsey lifestyle i love so much! highly encourage everyone else to spend a little time volunteering as well ;)

      Delete
  7. 100 hours is HUGE! GO EMMA YOU'RE THE BEST WOO WOO WOO. There, USEA won't congratulate you, but I'll do a dance and song in your honor. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL!! i was thinking more along the lines of a baseball hat or t-shirt or some other typical volunteer trinket haha, but the song and dance is nice too ;)

      Delete
  8. I love the shield!
    Agree that 100 hours is HUGE. We should be able to add hours for non recognized events, local PC shows and things like that! Glad that you got to get out and enjoy yourself

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. totally agreed. like, on one hand i get that US Eventing wants to incentivize volunteers for their sanctioned shows bc they really do take so much work to run. and i guess from their perspective, area programs or local associations or even individual event venues can do whatever they want to promote volunteerism.

      on the other hand tho... when i first learned that only the recognized events counted, i started prioritizing my time for those events. except then i realized just how friggin unattainable their recognition levels are... so like, what's the point? smaller local shows and associations need just as much help and are likelier to have a bigger impact on my local eventing community anyway, ya know?

      Delete
  9. I volunteered at a USDF show 2 weeks ago, but I don't do it as much as I feel I should (since I want to make these local shows continuing possible!)
    Lol maybe the no spectator thing will encourage more volunteering since it's the only way you get to watch!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lol that's definitely the line the organizers are taking haha! idk tho.... i love volunteering but it generally doesn't lend itself to spectatorship. like, the gif above was of my first two horses in the ring, and the video above was the final horse in the ring. the entire time between those moments was kiiiiinda busy. hopefully tho there will be room for safe spectatorship in the future!! until then, i guess volunteering is the only way!

      Delete
  10. Alright... the visual of the fishing net left me cackling. Love it.

    I'm glad you got to go volunteer and enjoy.

    And the more I see them, the more I think I need one of those face shields.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i really like the face shield, actually. and wore it the entire day without really noticing or fidgeting with it (to the point where i definitely kept forgetting about it and hitting it with water bottles and snacks lol...

      for this type of setting, where we were able to keep a lot of distance and were outdoors, it felt pretty reasonably safe. not sure i'd wear it instead of a normal surgical mask in an indoors or closer setting tho.

      Delete
  11. That fishing net sounds hilarious!! I'd love to see that in action.

    And congrats! 100 hours is HUGE!! I totally agree with you that USEA should attribute volunteered hours that aren't only at USEA sanctioned shows. It looked like fun tho! Too bad about the spectators but at least you could be a "spectator" that was volunteering lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yea, it makes sense that the USEA only counts volunteer hours for USEA events, it's their organization and their program -- why should they recognize time dedicated to other organizations? i just wish they had broader recognition programs.

      specifically, there are 5K+ volunteers with recorded hours in the system (which itself is only 3ish years old). the national volunteer awards program recognizes the top 10 (ie, 0.2%) each year, and has a lifetime gold/silver/bronze medal program. but the bronze level starts at 500 lifetime hours, of which there are currently 4 (soon to be 5) awardees. there are no volunteers even close to the 1,000 silver level, and the 2,000 gold level seems frankly laughable. plus, i know a couple of the names at the top of the list: these are folks who are way more involved (in some cases getting paid for services as judges and emts and such) with the shows than what you'd think of as the typical volunteer.

      Delete
    2. Oh gotcha! I didn't know all of that. Thanks for the information!

      Delete
    3. honestly i wonder if the USEA even knows that LOL... like it's all out there in public but i'm not sure anyone is really paying much attention to the program. siiiiiigh... oh well tho, i still like volunteering even if the rewards program kinda sucks lol

      Delete
  12. Interesting to see all the changes they put in place, and refreshing to see people taking it seriously! That's awesome that you put so much time into volunteering!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. definitely! people are taking is seriously -- most of the time. there's definitely a fair amount of complacency and fatigue, but at the same time nobody wants to shut down again so we're all trying, i guess...

      Delete

Thanks for leaving a comment! If you have trouble with this form, please email: fraidycat.eventing at gmail.