I’m on the board of Green Country Dressage, which is a chapter of the USDF Group Member Organization Oklahoma Dressage Society. I’m the membership chair; I’m certain I was elected to this post because I’m generally friendly and pleasant, I know how to use the internet to communicate, and no one else wanted to do it.
You might wonder why I wanted to do it. There’s no pay, a lot of time required, and I don’t even really like dressage, or at least not the way some people like dressage! Sometimes it’s not even fun (e.g. when a cranky judge is adamant you need to shift the entire dressage arena two feet to the left five minutes before the first scheduled ride).
For me, the rewards are worth the time and effort.
I’ve made friends through Green Country Dressage. The English riding community in northeastern Oklahoma is small; the percentage of riders competing in something other than hunter/jumpers is tiny. Finding other equestrians who know what is dressage is and want to promote the sport has been a huge relief to me. Club members are supportive of one another while being competitive in a friendly way. They’re even glad to hear about how my combined tests or events are going, even if they have zero desire to jump or minimal knowledge of eventing.
I’ve learned more about dressage in the last year than all the previous years of my life combined. I had no idea the USDF had a medals program, an online learning center, or grants available to its members. I used to think First Level was something that fancy people who are amazing riders did; now I’ve competed at that level at lived to tell the tale! Being involved with my local GMO has helped me learn more about a sport I had a passing familiarity with and has motivated me to set new goals for myself and my riding.
As a member of Green Country Dressage, I help ensure the future of dressage by organizing and volunteering at activities for young members. Last night, the board met to finalize the schedule and logistics for the club’s Junior Rider Camp. The camp is three days long (it takes place during Fall Break) and includes twice-daily lessons with two excellent clinicians, educational lectures from area vets and other equine experts, plus housing, meals, and a goodie bag stuffed with swag. This is such a great opportunity for young riders and a bargain at $150; it’s possible because the club uses earnings from the rated show’s silent auction plus a grant from USDF to make it affordable. I’m glad I give my time to an organization that focuses its efforts on young riders.
But mostly, I volunteer because I want to make sure that Green Country Dressage keeps going. I like the incredibly low-key, low cost schooling shows. I like the club’s low-cost clinics for members. I like how much the club does for its junior members. I love the friends I’ve made. I love meeting new people who are just as enthusiastic about equestrian sports as I am. I volunteer because I want to ensure that in a year, or five, or fifty, that Green Country Dressage will be around for people who want to try a new sport or make new friends or take their horse to a show without breaking the bank.
I’d encourage you to get involved with an organization you care about! Jump judge at an event. Run tests at a schooling show. Offer to play jump crew. Your help makes a difference- not just for you, but for everyone involved!