What do you want from your GMO?

I am on our board of directors for my GMO and we are struggling to get volunteers, fill shows, and get attendance to clinics. We are hosting a “Roundtable” discussion next month to ask our members what they want/need from the GMO. But, I would love some ideas from all of you as to what you like. dislike, and would like to see your local GMO offer the members. Thanks!

I’m lucky to belong to two great GMOs. One is large, and I appreciate that they run the L program, bring in big name clinicians, and have awesome year end awards. I also belong to a smaller local GMO that also does fun year end awards, and runs a great set of schooling and level 1 rated shows that don’t require stabling. ETA: I also really appreciate the online education programs during COVID!

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Hi! What a super question! While Im not on STRIDE’s Board at the moment, I have been, and I’m the Region 3 GMO Representative at the COnvention.
Hope you have joined the GMO Officers facebook group. If you need an invitation or link PM me.
As for an answer, I appreciate the schooling shows with quality judges and clinics for both upper level and lower level riders/drivers, guest speakers at monthly meetings/at a local restaurant so also a social time, and the fact that we enlarged our offerings to meet the needs of our local community - we offer western dressage and driven dressage classes at our schooling shows. (and USEA tests if requested).
Volunteers are always an issue with GMOs. DO you offer incentives? We require 8 hours to qualify for year end awards, and offer vouchers what can be used for anything we do from clinics to show entries.
Hope you are coming to the Convention. Be sure to attend the round tables hosted by the GMO COmittee.

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Our local GMO has a requirement for membership: you must volunteer at least one GMO-sponsored show during the year to maintain your membership. Volunteer can be anything, scribes, test runners, ring stewards, driving the judges to/from airport, etc. This tends to keep folks more engaged instead of just joining for the year end awards.


The GMO’s I have been involved with have both sadly deteriorated into more of a 4H meets the red hat society. Since there is no advantage of membership, both have lost 50% of their membership over the last several years. People are just doing their own clinics and educational activities.
One club which is small doesn’t even have schooling shows anymore. The other larger club does still put on to rated shows which I will still volunteer at. But other than that they have cease to have anything for the members that are dressage-related they have turned into more of social club, a clique. Which is the kiss of death for any GMO.


Its interesting and telling that you aren’t getting many responses to you question OP. I see that GMOs, and other clubs and organizations of all stripes in all walks of life, are struggling to rediscover their relevance in a post COVID world, where everyone has rather turned in to their nuclear “families” rather than outward towards more broad social gatherings.

Our local GMO had gone somewhat the way of that of the previous poster. It had got very cliquey. I do think that the current management is trying to do something about that, but at the moment, It is so focused on youth and entry level riders, and has stopped doing the annual show and dumbed down its year end awards so much, that it has lost much of its relevance to anyone taking the sport seriously and its membership and participation has dropped off dramatically.

Back in ye olde days, they’d have really good subsidized clinicians coming in with access for everyone, they ran an L program, they did a new test symposium, and, very importantly, they had a really nice super-inclusive annual show on neutral territory. No one barn or group was in control of the whole thing and the board was made up of passionate dressage enthusiasts.

And yes, I know change comes from within and if I wanted to make it something different I could join the board and fight the good fight. Its just finding the time and intestinal fortitude to do it. I keep saying I will get involved once I retire, but I can’t afford to retire and keep being active in the sport, so there we are…


Thank you all for your replies. We do hold a 2 day Level 3 rated show every May and then a Schooling Show Championship show every September. We have an awards program that riders can apply for quite a few awards. But, volunteering is down, I can’t get members to help with committees or even running for a board position.

We also try to host at least two clinicians a year. Little participation in anything unless it is at the riders “home” barn. It’s a little frustrating.

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So the larger club that I was talking about earlier also has the same issue as far as volunteers and people wanting to serve.
I have participated in several of their meetings and am not afraid to bring up suggestions. When they brought up not getting enough volunteers I commented that as a member I was not getting any emails or seeing anything except for it would be one Facebook post that would quickly get buried asking for volunteers.
I asked if they ever thought about dividing up the membership list and having people just pick up the phone and maybe call each member and just be nice and invite them to activities with the club and then ask if they would be able to volunteer. They looked at me like I had two heads.
I think sometimes people just assume too much with social media and they think everybody in the membership is going to know what’s going on because people in the bubble know what’s going on so why doesn’t everybody else?
So that might be something to consider.


NJRider, Thank you! That is a wonderful idea and something that I hadn’t thought about doing. But it makes perfect sense and I am hoping my other board members are willing to step in and help contact people as well.

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Half the time stuff is on social media and or email. Trainers run barns and quite frankly I’m not checking my email daily nor on social media daily either.

Finding out about clinics or educational opportunities is usually after the fact or if one of my clients asks me about it. Or another trainer needs slots filled.

Most of the time I have no idea stuff is happening until after it’s happened.


So, would posting on the organizations website well ahead of time for clinics and shows help, or multiple emails and social media postings? I want to make sure that members get information they want, but I also don’t want bombard them with information…

One email a week or every two weeks isnt “bombarding”. STRIDE has a facebook page, an “Events hosted by STRIDE” facebook group, and monthly emails from our President in addition to monthly meetings at a local restaurant with a guest speaker (usually). WHen something is coming up such as a show or clinic, we send “a gentle reminder” email. ALso, remember that USDF has a calendar of GMO events you can post to. here is a link to that https://www.usdf.org/education/resources/gmo-event.asp
EDITED to add: I try to keep the “regular” facebook page worth looking at by sharing interesting articles, local members “good news” type posts, and other local events… I think it helps grow followers, members of stride or not.

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I always wished my GMO would have considered learning situations like wrap clinics, first aid talks, rider fitness concepts, disaster prep and evacuation resources

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Hah, exactly that here, so very very much that. A few years back my (small, local, but nice) GMO sent out a note late in the membership year that said basically “the current management is burnt out, nobody new has expressed interest, if anybody wants to keep this thing alive let us know ASAP.”

Until two minutes ago I thought the GMO had quietly folded, but looking at the web site it’s still a going concern and hosting events! Some brief digging suggests that it’s all done via personal facebook for the in-group now, but the note I summarized above is the last thing garden-variety members ever got.

So apparently I wasn’t cool enough and got ghosted by my GMO!

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Did you suggest them? Did you offer to organize or help? In my experience, GMOs are usually looking for ideas to meet the needs of their members. At least the successful ones are.


How about offering a Free Training Class open to all comers so they have an idea of just what positions they could volunteer for?

My place is on acreage in middle of a few million people, we often have people stop by asking questions about the horses/goats/dogs/cats some have become faithful volunteers to help doing whatever that is needed… what they want is to learn about the animals.

Most are in there later 20s early 30s who always Wanted to know about horses and other animals.

Since we are not a business my homeowners covers them as invited guests so there is not much to worry about

It is not that our place is some mecca however there are people who given an opportunity will freely volunteer however they often are fearful of being rejected


This is such a good idea. I used to be a member of my local farm bureau. I joined for the insurance benefits, so I didn’t actively participate in their group events, but they called me once and were so kind and enthusiastic about inviting me to a dinner.

This was pre-covid so I worked full time in an office and it was too far for me to make it, but if nothing else I was a far more active remote participant afterwards once I felt like they actually cared about me. I was sad when I moved and had to end my membership