From Endurance to Dressage
First off, my visit to MARE was a total fail in terms of pictures, so you're getting practically zero visual stimulation. Sorry about that, but I wasn't sure I was actually going to stay and volunteer. My experience the week before had left me doubting whether this was the place for me. The only reason I showed up was because I had already committed, and I know that even if just one volunteer doesn't show up, a kiddo doesn't get to ride. I showed up.
Like always, I signed in and pinned on my name tag. Most weeks, someone greets me. Usually it's the Barn Captain - BC; she is a really kind and easy going person who will point out a "mistake" in such a way that you feel supported instead of criticized. While the BC was there, it was actually someone whom I'd not yet met that introduced herself. She's the Program Director - PD, a position I was unaware of until last week. She is one of only a few who works full time, five days a week. She oversees the riding program. Unfortunately she been dealing with a health issue the past few months which was why I hadn't yet met her.
I couldn't resist the opportunity to get more information, so I turned that initial hello! into an interview. What I discovered was that it is the PD who assesses each new rider. She does the intake. She also mentors T1 and T2, supporting them in their lesson plans as they follow the PATH International system - Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International. She oversees the trainers and everything that happens with the riders and horses. She struck me as friendly and welcoming. She asked me a few questions, questions I knew were designed to feel me out, but that was the extent of our communication. I didn't see her again for the rest of the day.
As I waited for the four o'clock lesson to begin, I again set out to clean one of the bridles from the extra bridles bin. Since it's not a NEED RIGHT NOW kind of thing, I am the only one working on the project. As I cleaned and oiled, T2 came over to chat. Without wanting to call anyone out or get anyone in trouble, I made a discreet comment about the drama from the week before. She gave a knowing nod and said that volunteer relations has been an ongoing issue.
After the lesson, T2 and I picked up the conversation. I explained in detail how I had felt the previous week, and she listened thoughtfully. In the end, she explained that the volunteer coordinator can come across as harsh, and she has been spoken to before. It's just the way she is. To the volunteer coordinator's credit, she is good at bringing people in and training them, and T2 swore that she truly has a heart of gold. T2 said that she was going to take my concerns to the Program Director though as there had been other complaints recently as well.
I don't hold grudges, and I always try to remind myself that God loves that person as much as he loves me, so it's my job to find the lovable in people. When we remember that each person is loved by someone, it's easier to overlook the prickly parts. That's something I have to do regularly at school with students. Somebody loves that kiddo for a reason; I just need to find it.
Once I had cleared the air, my afternoon of volunteering was fun. I listened in and laughed at the story of Morey the mini getting out when a volunteer forgot to close the stall door behind him. Apparently, Morey is quite fast for a pony whose legs are only twelve inches long. The Barn Captain, another volunteer, and myself all chatted and laughed as we groomed the horses and tacked up. We all headed out to the arena and waited for our riders. We all laughed about the crazy weather as we contemplated zipping up or shedding our layers as the sun went in out of the clouds.
The lesson was pretty interesting as T2 used a few new strategies with the riders. They sang "If You're Happy and You Know it ..." which helped the riders move their bodies while engaging their brains. Instead of "your face will surely show it," she sang "then your horse will surely show it" which was a fun change to the song. She had the riders circling colored cones, weaving through tall cones, and dropping Beanie Babies into colored buckets. When my young rider grew a bit bored, her mom and I threw in other questions and verbal activities to keep her engaged. We asked what color is this? Can you count like a cat? What's your dog's name? Anything to keep her engaged.
I realize that volunteering isn't about me. God certainly led me to this endeavor for a reason, but I can't do my job joyfully if I am not wanted or seen as adding value. I hope that the next time I work with the volunteer coordinator I see her as a person expressing God's love instead of as a prickly nitpicker. I am not perfect myself, and I definitely want people to see my strengths first rather than my faults.
The world would be a lot better place if we all remembered the Golden Rule.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: