Scene on course at Rolex 2011. photo by Holly

Spectators at Rolex 2011 – photo by Holly

As eventers, we are concerned about the American high performance team members as they leave the not so great Olympics in their wake, and go forward to international competition in the next cycle with a new coach and hopefully new program.

As amateurs and enthusiasts, we’re all hoping to be able to cheer on winners, but it’s discouraging when we see American (and Canadian) flag icons waaaaayyyyy down the list of competitors on the “Results” pages. We discuss, we use the bulletin boards, we read the armchair quarterback opinions.

We listen to the interviews on video and radio, and we read the blogs, tweets, and facebook postings. It’s clear the US needs some incentive, better this, better that, more experience, etc.

But it seems all pretty remote and far way; we’re not going to find a horse in our backyard to get us to the Olympics, so we have to be content to watch. But I’m here to tell you: even just watching you can buoy the spirits and provide incentive.

Here’s the Three Big S’s: Spectate, Support, and Serve — ways WE can make a difference.

1. Spectate!

Our biggest three-day events in America (Rolex, Fair Hill, Jersey Fresh, and more CIC types like Plantation, Richland, Red Hills, Galway, etc.) all really need lots and lots of spectators. Numbers drive the sponsors. When they can go to a sponsor and provide a really big number, the sponsor can dig deep and provide more funding, more of everything. So if you do ANYTHING this year, go to a big event, and bring a friend, and don’t try to sneak in under the fence… pay the entrance fee or buy the ticket, because that fee helps the event continue on, and the purchase of the ticket can be counted as part of the gate. So that’s my first suggestion — be a paying customer and support the event.

2. Support!

William Fox-Pitt's lost shoe at 2011 Rolex - photo by: Holly

Support your favorite rider! These girls hold a treasured shoe from one of William Fox-Pitt’s horses.

If you ride, support a rider. If you have a local upper level competitor who has a good horse and needs to gain experience, consider a lesson or two, or offer to coordinate a clinic. These riders do not have the luxury of funding like other countries, and have to finance their horses and competition through self-funding.

If you are asked to support a fundraising party or effort, go. Bid on the silent auction donation, buy the hat or t-shirt, or consider a donation. Even a small donation is a big help when it is times 10 or 20 people.

If you can’t afford $500, but can skip the footlong at Subway for one lunch, then get some of your friends to help contribute and it will add up. The eventing community may be small, but we can be mighty, which leads to my last point:

3. Serve!

Experience the fun of a wet dressage day!

Experience the fun of a wet dressage day!

Get your volunteer chops! The more volunteers our events can utilize, the less the expense and the more the event can do for the riders and the sponsors.

Volunteers are the cornerstone of the sport, throughout the world. Without volunteers many events simply wouldn’t exist. Your half day or whole day once a year to help your local event goes a long, long way.

Although we often get all sorts of things for helping, the most important part of volunteering is becoming a part of very important and exciting happening, being part of a family that cares about a sport. And there’s something to be said for sitting out in a field all day on a beautiful course watching awesome horses and riders. Don’t miss the fun!

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