Wow! here we are at the weekend again. Larissa's countdown is on , only a few days and she's off to school in the UK. I wish her safe journey and amazing experiences which I'm hoping she will share with all of us here on TacknTalk :). I'm happy for her but a little sad as well , which is funny because we've only met online and really, once she's settled in our blogging adventure should carry on the same for the most part.
As for me I am always preoccupied this time of year getting the farm ready for our annual show Sunhall Harvestfest. This got me thinking I might write a few notes on getting ready for a show. Some of you may have or will hold shows in the future and even riders can have a better day if they know some of what goes on behind the scenes.
Dressage shows are different in many ways.We share with eventing the fact that riders compete individually and so times must be assigned for each test. This can get tricky if a rider is showing in two consecutive levels which is allowed or perhaps showing on a school horse shared by another rider.The times are usually roughed out and then narrowed down a few times as judges breaks and late entries get scheduled in. Finally times are assigned and we try to stick to those as closely as possible since riders plan when they will trailer in , warmup , etc. according to their test times.The times are emailed out to riders as soon as the schedule is complete, hopefully at least 2 days prior to the show so people can plan their braiding, hauling times etc.
Many details are dealt with months ahead. The securing of judges and the show date being the first priorities. I would strongly advise having a written or at the least an email contract with judges agreeing on price , hours, special needs ie:food , gas allowance or travel arrangements, accomodations, a rain date , fee to be paid in case of show cancellation for any reason etc. over the years I have learned that making these arrangements far ahead and in writing can save everyone a lot of grief ( not to mention money.)
As for the date you want to make sure it does not conflict with other local shows and/or holiday weekends when people may be away. The sooner your show date can be posted the more riders you will have make time in their schedules and other stables will much appreciate the advance notice.
Prizes need to be secured for various divisions. Sponsors are a terrific help and often your farrier , vet , boarders, feed suppliers and local tack shops are more than happy to donate the cost of a set of ribbons or various prizes. It is most important to make note of these contributions at your show in the form of banners , posted acknowledgements etc. People like to know their efforts are appreciated. It is almost impossible to put on a show without a dedicated group of volunteers.These people should be mentioned in your thankyous as well.
It is a good idea to keep a list of everyone you wish to thank . It's amazing how many actually contribute time , prizes ,skills and jobs of all sorts.
Give the awards company plenty of notice to print your ribbons. This way if something is not to your liking or classes get added there will be time to fix the order. If you are selling food or snacks you need to plan on at least two people coming with every rider ( parents etc. ). The menu need not be elaborate but should offer some choices ie. muffins and cocoa in the morning (fall show)coffee , tea, snacks, fruit, the ever popular burgers and hot dogs and drinks(maybe three choices on soft drinks), ( heavy on the water ) which riders prefer.The mark up should allow for a small profit but if your prices are too high people will soon realize that and pack their own lunches.
Our feed company donates rider numbers from Purina for free. Also these are paper and need not be collected at the end of the show so we do not need to charge a number fee and these days people like that fact.These can be handed out with yarn for around the riders waist or with safety pins to put on the saddle pad. Bridle numbers are much more expensive and if lost or damaged the cost adds up so a refundable fee should be charged and most numbers will come back to the show secretary in good condition this way.
You will need roughly one portable toilet per/100 people. it is a good idea to get one for a little extra that has a sink or hand sanitizers.This will keep people out of your house and barn ( except boarders) and cause less disruption in the stable for the horses who are getting ready or not showing , not to mention security. You do not wish to give unknown people any good reasons to be wandering about private areas of your property.We post Boarder's Only signs on the barn.
You should have a water source for visiting horses and if it is not a long walk from the rings, that will be appreciated.We usually have carrots and apples available as well and often give a bunch out to young starter riders for their horses/ponies.Our show is always in the fall which lends itself to great decorating possiblilities with pumpkins, straw bales,corn stalks, gourds and mums etc. keeping our Harvestfest theme. A safe and attractive show grounds makes riders want to come back as only a small part of their day is actually in the ring so the whole experience must be taken into account.
We request people keep their dogs at home as many are well behaved but one naughty or noisy dog can wreak havoc with nervous riders very quickly.
We try to have the rings set up a few days ahead to allow for lots of dragging and finishing touch mowing. Your letters should be large and visible to riders and judges. Your rings should be made of material that will not injure horses or trap a leg. Home made is fine but should be well maintained , clean and highly visible to horses and riders. Any holes on the grounds should be clearly flagged. Garbage containers set near the trailer parking will cut down on litter a great deal. Sunhall always requires jr. riders to be wearing helmets at all times when mounted.
It is paramount to have adequate liablitiy insurance. Two million dollars worth is good.With luck and sound safety practices you may never need it but if you don't have enough coverage you could lose everything you own in an unfortunate moment.It is wise to have a clearly defined and mandatory Acceptance of Risk Waiver signed by every entrant and/or parent /guardian for juniors.
This is a general overview of our preparations for Sunhall Harvestfest. Every show will have countless small details to be taken care of. Try to do as much as possible as far ahead as you can so that on show day you can mainly fill in as a test reader , meet and greet riders, deal with complaints or questions and also enjoy the day. Every year I say "never again " so much work is involved but every year as the leaves take on a hint of orange and the evenings begin to cool I feel the excitement stirring again :). Happy Riding . by Libby Keenan