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    [RC] Volunteering - a newbie's view - Deb Blackburn

    A few week's ago there was a discussion about the pros and cons of volunteering at a ride. Having just returned from volunteering at BSF, I thought I'd share my "newbie" point of view (just in case there are more wannabe lurkers out there like me).

    1. The best jobs don't always go to the ride managers friends. I volunteered early and was given my choice of jobs. I ended up vet recording for all three days. I had the privilege of recording for Dr. Ken for Friday and Saturday. He was very patient with me as well as the horses. Between horses and on the way to the away vet check he let me pick his brain and answered all my questions. While he was evaluating horses he kept up a running commentary on what he was looking for.

    2. Everyone is friendly. I was a little worried about going by myself and knowing no one. I need not have worried. I didn't get a chance to talk with a lot of folks, but the ones I did were very friendly and welcoming. At camp my neighbors came over and introduced themselves and invited me to join them for dinner. Kim and Steve - thanks so much for making my first endurance adventure such a pleasant one. BTW, Kim tied for first in the 50 and was 2nd for BC!

    3. You can learn alot just by observation. Check out everyone's station at the vet checks - what they bring, what they are feeding, what types of electrolytes they are using. What they are eating. I picked up a lot of information this way. Also lots of info in camp - types of corrals, water carriers, quiet generators, etc.

    4. Don't be afraid of asking questions. I probably drove several people nuts asking "why", but everyone hid it well :-)

    5. I don't know if all rides are as well organized as this one was, but my hat is sure off to RM's and I WILL remember that when I ride. What a ton of work they have and Karen made it all seem effortless. In the middle of managing 130+ horses and riders, she made the effort several times a day to ask how I was doing, if I needed a break, and even made me a P&J sandwich and brought it to me at the vet check!

    6. If you have never primitive camped before, you will have a list a MILE long of things you want to have along next time. I used to backpack but that was a few years ago and my horse camping experience has mostly been at places with a bath house (note to self: remember the cowboy shower next time, much easier than heating buckets of water) Speaking of buckets - I think you need a minimum of several dozen lol. Water buckets for camp, water and sponging buckets for the away check, more water and sponging buckets for the in-camp check.

    If you are thinking of volunteering - DO. I had a blast, learned a ton, and can't wait to go again. Next time with my horse! How much easier my first ride will be now that I understand how things work a little better.

    Thanks everyone at BSF that helped make this such a great experience. And thanks Karen for being such a gracious host and giving me this opportunity.

    Lookout - next year I'll be there, but I WANT TO RIDE!

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