Ummm…what did I sign up for?

So you all know that I love all things horsey and I love new learn new things. When an opportunity came up to volunteer for the Jersey Fresh 2* event this year I signed up! It sounded like a good idea at the time, but with not even a week to go before I volunteer I am starting to get concerned that maybe I made a mistake in offering a helping hand…

My first concern is that I have been to an event in real life. EVER. I mean, sure I watch the Olympics and Rolex, but that is as close as I have gotten. I have been to many dressage shows where big time Eventer’s are and they seem nice enough, but I kind of feel like maybe I should know a little bit more about the sport before I offered to help out. My last time volunteering at show that was not a dressage show was two years ago when I tried (and failed) to help out at a western show. It was a HORRIBLE day because I had no idea what I was doing. You would think I would learn my lesson, but no.

So I had not received an assignment as of the weekend so I was thinking that maybe they didn’t need me, but no, last night I got an e-mail and now I am officially freaking out!

I think I might be a fence judge.


I don’t even know what a fence judge does. Isn’t the point of cross country that the fences don’t fall?

But what happens if there is an accident at the fence…I mean…I would be like right there…I don’t really want to be right there.

So why do I think I might be a fence judge?

In the e-mail it says that I need to arrive at the show grounds in time to check in and learn my area prior to a meeting with officials at 7am. They also said that we have to pick up our lunches by 7am…ummm…does that mean that I don’t get a break to pick up my lunch in the middle of the day? Since the last run isn’t going to end until 5, I am worried about getting a break. I can’t not pee for 10 hours!!! Or am I over thinking things. I mean, they have to give us bathroom breaks…right? Except they do say that “water will be brought to us”. That doesn’t sound very promising…

Anyone who has ever volunteered for an international level event I need to know…am I in way over my head?!?!?!


7 thoughts on “Ummm…what did I sign up for?

  1. You are not in over your head. You will get a briefing with an explanation of what you are expected to do. There will be someone out on the course all day who will supply breaks for the jumps judges. You take lunch with you so that you can eat when you are hungry. You will have a way to communicate with the officials and you will be told when to do so. What a jump judge does is to tick off each rider as they clear the jump, or have a refusal. Tell the coordinator when you go to the event that you have never done this so that you will get an easy jump to judge. Ask any questions you have then. Wear comfortable clothes, take a chair, an umbrella and whatever else you need for the weather. You will see the action close up. Have fun!

  2. I’ve always thought being a jump judge would be fun–spending the day out in the elements, enjoying the atmosphere and making sure everyone gets over the jump safely. You’ll feel great AND I bet you’ll sleep like a log after it’s all over ;o) Enjoy this experience!

  3. You’ll be fine! I was helping out at Jersey Fresh before I even knew anything about jumping or showing. The HP and JF take good care of their volunteers. 🙂

    You’ll have a walkie-talkie (and your cell, I imagine!) so you can call if you need a break or anything. They’ll explain the judging to you, and 99% of the time at an event like this it’s not complicated — the riders know the routine and the score sheets are pretty straightforward. They usually attach an excerpt from the rulebook that helps clarify the most common issues, but when in doubt, ask the TD. I try to get the number and description (eg, blue & yellow on bay horse) if I think there may be an issue later. If you’re lucky you’ll be at a “flyer” fence that none of the horses even look at!

    The only downside is you may come out of this wanting to change your sport… 😀

  4. Yes, I agree with the previous folks! You’ll be fine! The process will be completely explained to you. As a jump judge, you’re responsible for marking what happens to each rider at the fence, and for keeping the spectators at a safe distance. The volunteer coordinators will be friendly, and the whole eventing community in general is known for being really supportive and helpful.

    You’ll know when a horse/rider pair locks onto the fence and when the rider presents the horse to the fence; then, if they clear it, you mark clear. If they refuse, you mark a stop. Et cetera. And you’ll have a radio to call for help if you need it; you’re not expected to handle everything that might happen.

    *hug* Wish I could be there, completely!! Have a great time, and blog it for us!!

  5. You’ll enjoy it! I was a fence judge many years ago at a pony club event and I had a great time. As was already said, mainly it’s just marking that the rider and horse got to the jump and cleared it, without refusal or run out. The only time it could get busy is if there’s a mishap and you have to call to keep the course clear for the next approaching rider.

    I’ll bet you’ll have a great time! And you’ll want to do it again. 🙂

    (The second time I volunteered to do it, I was given the water jump. If you like action, that’s the one to have.)

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