Why is “Oh, sure I can help out!” such a stupid thing to say?

Well, there were 500 entries at the inter-regional horse show this weekend at our pony club.

I volunteered to help out, thinking I’d be in the mess tent, serving coffee (free coffee) crepes (free crepes) and sandwiches (you got it – hot drinks and nibbles all day.) Inside warm tent. Gossip and leaning over the counter, or stepping out back to stand in front of the barbecue and get toasty.

Instead, I was put at the starting gate. Now, for those who don’t know, a horse show has to be organizd in order to go smoothly. With each class having between 55 and 120 entries, you have to give out numbers to each entry, and they have to arrive in order on the show jumping ring. And there can’t be any pauses, and you have to keep everyone moving. There is a little warm-up ring, where 2 or three jumps are set up, and the contestants arrive and warm up their ponies before being called into the ring.

I was in charge of calling all the riders into the ring. Of course, it never goes in order – someone is always late, fell off, forgot their boots, had a flat tire…so the gatekeeper (me) is trying to keep everyone happy (“Ok, you can go find your boots so you can go after number 22, and number 19, you can go as number 30 if you feel you have to rest after that massive fall you just took, and yes, number 54, if you absolutely have to leave, go right ahead. I’ll just tell 20 to be patient.”)

I was working as a team with the person in charge of filling up the warm-up ring, who had to make sure it was never too full or too empty. I had to deal with the irate trainers sayig things like “what do you mean my number 26 can’t go right now, he’s ready!” so I have to explain that for my sanity and for a minimum of order I wanted to try and keep the numbers in order…

And then it went to my head. “No, you can’t wait five more minutes. You’re number 45 and number 44 is in the ring. If you don’t go now, you’ll lose your turn. And don’t argue. I’m in charge here.”

I don’t know if the pony club realized that I was a closet tyrant.

I had a great time. From 8 am to nearly 8 pm, I controlled the gate. (it’s actually a big green rope) and had free crepes, coffee and sandwiches, (so it wasn’t too bad). The weather was not bad either, and my daughter came in fifth in her class (over 120 in it!) and her place in the national finals is now official!