It's estimated that tens of thousands of people each give an average of 15.5 hours of time per year to volunteer in equestrian sport in Great Britain – although many give much, much more of their time – and this doesn't include the time that parents, friends and families spend supporting participants in the sport.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of equestrian sport and most of our activities wouldn’t happen without their support. There are a huge number of volunteer roles, from business roles such as being a non-Executive Director of British Equestrian or its Member Bodies, to event volunteers such as fence judges or dressage stewards, to volunteering at a Riding for the Disabled (RDA) group. Many of these roles don't require specific equestrian experience, but if you do have experience this can help you quickly pick up new roles – there's likely to be a volunteering role out there for you.
Volunteering is a great way to meet people, make new friends and support the sport you love. It's an easy way to gain experience and can help you grow in confidence, as well as giving you the opportunity to learn new skills – all at the same time as giving something back.
Most equestrian volunteers rarely use the term 'volunteer' to describe their activities – they see themselves as general helpers, assistants, officials, event organisers or stewards. Behind the scenes, there are treasurers, committee members, researchers, press officers and photographers, who all pay a crucial part in our sport.
There are a variety of roles, without which the activity in most riding schools, groups or clubs, organisations and events wouldn't be able to function. These include helping to lead horses in lessons, tacking up, mucking out and helping out with social media, to name a few.
If those roles don't tickle your fancy, then why not try competition volunteering? There are many opportunities to train for volunteering and officiating roles at events and competitions held across the country, such as fence judging, writing for judges, scoring, time keeping and stewarding.
Visit one of British Equestrian's Member Body volunteering pages using the links on the right-hand side to see what might be available to you.
If you look at Find your Nearest Riding Centre, your local riding centre may offer volunteering opportunities.
You can also get in touch with your local Active Partnership, who will be able to let you know what is going on in your county.
Alternatively, Do It is an online platform that allows you to create your own volunteering profile, then search for and be matched to volunteering opportunities that suit your interests, and give feedback on your volunteering experiences.
If you are between the ages of 13 and 25, the Young Equestrian Leaders Award (YELA) provides tiered awards for volunteering in equestrian sport.
This award scheme, run by the Pony Club, is designed to support young volunteers to become equestrian leaders of the future by recognising the time and effort young volunteers give to the sport, and the skills that they gain.
There are three levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Bronze requires 20 hours of volunteering and introduces skills in responsibility, organisation and communication, then Silver develops these further. The Gold Award requires 60 hours of volunteering, encouraging leadership, and the planning and delivery of a specific project.
Volunteers' Week is an annual campaign that celebrates the fantastic contribution that millions of volunteers make across the UK.