I really didn’t know what to expect volunteering for Thorncroft. Sure, I had been to and in horse shows but that consisted of making sure I had the right clothes and a pair of good boots…..
Thorncroft starts at CATRA way before the Saturday of the events. Laura and Amy learn the trail course, Alex starts the tack and supply process, Shirley teaches the riders their dressage test. Ben and the guys make sure our vehicles and trailers are ready for the road and safe. Amy plans who rides which horse and how each rider can have a horse at each event on time. Already it is overwhelming, right?
Friday is horse bath day. Those volunteers get soaked as they clean the accumulated winter dirt and hair from each horse so they look their best on show day. Friday night everything is packed up according to the lists on the white board. Can’t forget anything…..The clean horses are placed in clean stalls.
The day of Thorncroft starts at 3:30. The show horses get fed. Then……we get to reclean them. Yes, I said reclean. If we are lucky they don’t lay down. This year we had a few heavy sleepers….so by the time they are clean again, the rest of the volunteers start to arrive and the horses are prepared for the trip. They are loaded into the trailers and away we go – 5AM scheduled pull out time.
Once we get there, it’s like setting up camp. Horses come out of the trailers, water buckets and hay bags get attached to trailers and filled. Tack gets organized by horse. Each horse has a team of volunteers who are responsible to get the horse ready for the rider at the right time. Thank you Shirley for the detailed instructions with times…. Those who can figure out the poles, strings and canvas set up our shelter. And then, all of a sudden, FOOD appears!!! Like magic! If all has gone well, there is a short time for a snack before the events begin.
Then the events begin. Don’t even think of sitting down for any extended period of time until your rider has ridden in all their events. It is a beautiful whirlwind and lots of walking. Oh, and MORE food shows up – it is a spread fit for a king!
As the day goes on, there are highs and lows. Elation and perhaps disappointment. Someone may discover they CAN do it, something they thought was not easy. This is what our riders work for all year. The smiles wipe away all your exhaustion. Speaking of wiping away…I have never cleaned a horse’s back end and legs as much as I did Nickel’s. Every time I turned around, he had cleanliness issues. Just goes with the territory and doesn’t dim the warm feeling I got as I looked around at everyone and thanked God that I was able to be a part of this event and the CATRA family.