The Selfish Guide to Volunteering

Volunteering as a way to “give back to the sport”? Puh-lease. New blogger Carrot Top lists the perks of helping out at horse shows.

From Carrot Top:

The Selfish Guide to Volunteering

I’ve been doing a lot of volunteering at horse shows this year. Before you praise my dedication to giving back to the sport, know this: I volunteer for purely selfish reasons. After reading my helpful guide, I hope that you, too, will have reason to get out and volunteer. For yourself.

  • You get free stuff.

# 1 most important free thing is food. Any event worth its salt keeps their volunteers well fed, with breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, and all meals in between. Even the smallest pony clubs will usually give you a bag of choccies and a bacon and egg roll.

I’ve also been gifted with t-shirts, hats, discount coupons and grocery vouchers.

  • You get to feel important.

Being a show steward if one of the few legitimate social situations where it is acceptable to yell at people.

‘You, number 273! Are you Intermediate? You need to be in this ring now!’


  • You get to learn heaps.

A day’s pencilling is equivalent to a day’s dressage clinic. Truth.  Hack shows? Steward for a judge and get to know their preferences. Picking up poles at a jump show? Watch the pros from the best seat in the house.

  • People think you’re awesome just for turning up.

Wake up, pull on some jeans, get to the show grounds before 8am and you get treated like a superstar. Now that’s the kind of recognition I can get behind.

  • It can be so easy that anyone can do it.

I recently spent a day paper collecting for at a dressage show. This involved, mostly, dozing in my chair under dappled shade on a beautiful spring day as fancy horses pranced past. I only had to get up to amble to the judge’s car and back again, or to wander down for my (free!) lunch and a tour of the shopping village.


  • You have a chance to meet great people.

As an amateur who didn’t grow up in the horse scene, I used to be very intimidated by any equestrian who was even remotely successful. After spending some time sharing the same space (whether it be ringside, in the stables, or choosing pastries in the catering tent) I feel a lot more comfortable around them. Not yet comfortable enough to actually talk to them mind, but you know, baby steps and all.

  • You get access to unique opportunities.

The lady who taught a gear stewarding workshop I attended worked at the Sydney Olympics. The Olympics, people. That is now my goal. In the meantime, I’ve managed to wrangle my way into volunteering at a Carl Hester clinic in a couple of months.

So what are you waiting for? Ring up your local show society and prepare to have a whale of a time!

Go Volunteering. Go Riding.

Carrot Top is a photo shy Australian who likes horses, riding of all disciplines, and colourful mis-matched socks. She and her mother each own 1 ½ horses (one cheeky young gelding, one wise older mare and another mare who frequently disproves the ‘crazy chestnut mare’ stereotype). When Carrot Top’s family, friends, colleagues, strangers she meets on buses etc have all tired of hearing about her horses, she turns to her blog Little Bay Horse ( She was a horse-less horse-mad girl all through childhood, got her first horse at age 21 and has been making up for lost time ever since.


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