While I've been involved with the South Carolina Hunter Jumper Association for about four years now, I actually got my first taste serving on a board when I was in high school. Without really knowing what I was getting into, I took on the role of Junior Representative to the North Carolina Hunter Jumper Association Board of Directors. I'll admit, I think my main motivation for getting involved was curiosity; I wanted to know what went on in those board meetings!
It wasn't quite as exciting as I had envisioned, but there were some heated debates and differences of opinion. As with any board, individual members had different agendas, but there was a common goal: continue to improve the association and provide an enjoyable horse show experience for the members. Initially, I weighed in when a junior opinion was needed (okay, I probably weighed in a whole lot more than that), but before long I began to form my own opinions as to what challenges faced the association.
As planning for the annual horse show shifted into high gear, I suggested that the NCHJA do something to promote camaraderie between the different barns; it bothered me that the barns seemed clique-ish. Of course, there were more important issues; budgets, scheduling, etc., but the members took my concerns seriously. They all encouraged me when I proposed putting riders from different barns on teams to compete for prizes in addition to the regular awards at the annual horse show. The "Team Challenge" was born! Several board members helped me solicit prizes from local businesses (who were also happy to help), and organize the teams. My friends and I made leader boards from poster paper and hung them in the in-gate of the main ring.
Since the teams consisted of a junior, an amateur, a professional and a jumper rider, most of the team members didn't know each other well, and many had never met. As the week progressed, and people began to notice their names on the leader board, interest in the team challenge grew!
On the final day of showing I spotted an extremely busy professional rider/trainer leaning on the rail watching a children's hunter rider who I knew was not his student. The girl completed her trip and the trainer clapped enthusiastically then hurried off to another ring. I shot a glance at the leader board and discovered that the trainer had been supporting his "Team Challenge" teammate. Even if it were just for one horse show, we had achieved our goal! Although it was more than 15 years ago, I still remember a few of the people who were on my team, including current NCHJA President Mike Rosser :)
As the SCHJA Junior Committee Members begin to hit their stride, I hope that we as senior members will set the example by taking on more responsibility for helping to improve our horse show community. Even seemingly small acts can have a large impact on the association!
So, what are your goals?