Competition planning and courtesy for better show day focus
There is always so much to think about in preparation for showing. Not only do we have to train our horses and know the tests but entering a show and getting there and knowing what else to do once on the showgrounds is mind boggling.
There is an inside joke among show managers and that is “Competitors don’t read” They don’t read the rules, they don’t read the prize lists, they don’t read the entry form. Some don’t even read their tests before and after the show.
So here are a few tips to make your life and the roles of show management, judge, technical delegate and volunteers a little easier.
Pre show planning:
Here are just a handful of entry tips. A guest blog from a popular show secretary later this season will address more details.
Not all prize lists are the same. Once you have decided to enter a show, read it thoroughly or review it with your trainer to determine what classes you want to enter. If you want to ride a qualifying class to qualify for the USDF Regional Finals then you will have to pay $15 more for this class. Look up how many days the show runs and on which ones you want to show. Be sure to write the correct day and class number on your entry.
Do you need to stable your horse? Be sure to write which days on your entry and if you want to purchase shavings. Are you trailering in and is there a trailer in fee? Include that on your entry. Be sure to add up the fees a couple of times including the USEF drug fee and any show office fee so you don’t have to stand in a long line at the show office the day of or day before because your entry is miscalculated or incomplete.
Travel day to the show:
So now you are on your way to the show. You have gotten your stabling assignment before so you know where your horse will live for a couple of days or you have staked out where parking will be for a trailer in show.
Once you arrive and your horse is settled in, go to the show office and pick up your program and number. Remember, your horse must wear a number at all times when on the show grounds, even in the wash stall on his/her halter. As you meet volunteers on the show grounds as well as the show secretary and manager, be sure to say thank you to them all for the time spent making the competition work for you, the competitor.
Before getting on your horse, look at the show day sheet which lists the classes and each riders’ class, time and arena number. Double check your ride time. Times can change 24 hours before the first ride time you may have seen online. Also, check the number of the rider going before you or have your trainer keep track of when you are “on deck” or the next to go in the ring. When you ride to the warm up area, be sure to tell the warm up steward your number. While that person may tell you how much time before your ride, it is NOT the warm up steward’s responsibility to get you to the ring on time. It is yours. You should be going down the centerline at your ride time, not walking to the ring or starting to warm up around the competition arena. Give yourself plenty of time (maybe when the rider before you has headed to the ring) to take off boots or bandages, wipe your boots, spray some fly spray, put on your jacket, take off the training headset or make a final helmet and hair adjustment.
When the rider before you has done the final salute, you should be going around the arena which indicates to the judge that you have presented yourself and ready to ride when the bell is rung or the whistle is blown. Always tell the scribe your number so she or he can be sure the scores and comments are written on the correct test. You may also ask if the judge has a bell or a whistle so you will not be confused with the sound coming from another ring.
After the judge blows the whistle or rings the bell, you have 45 seconds to enter at A. That is just barely enough time to trot fully around the outside from A. Try to hustle to get down the centerline timely, so other competitors are not delayed due to your tardiness. Remember that a judge can eliminate a rider from the class for being more than 45 seconds late to enter the arena.
If the judge interrupts your ride at some point because you have gone off course, you may ask what the movement should be or acknowledge the mistake and pick up where the judge explains.
If your horse is very fractious, rearing, spinning, backing, the judge can ask you to leave the arena for your safety and you will be eliminated from that class. You can not contest the judge’s decision. Nor can you contest the judge’s decision for elimination if he/she thinks your horse is unsound. This is always for consideration of the welfare of the horse.
After your final salute you may say thank you to the judge but don’t tell the judge that it was yours or your horse’s first show or the age of your horse or anything else. He or she may say thank you but that Is the only communication. The judge will want to keep the show on schedule by writing the collective marks and further remarks immediately. The rider after you will be anxious to ride at their ride time.
If, after you receive your test you have questions for the judge, you can approach the Technical Delegate (TD) and ask for permission to meet with the judge. The TD will ask the judge for a time to review your concern. The TD will get back to you when the judge can meet. Most judges are happy to explain their scores and comments to help the rider improve for future shows. So please be respectful of their time and expertise. The TD will also be present to aid in any explanations of rules.
When you are finished showing you can return your bridle number although many shows do not require that. Do again thank everyone in the show office. If you had a great time or some helpful recommendations, you can ask the manager or secretary for a USEF competition and/or licensed official evaluation form to let them and USEF know your thoughts.
Hopefully you and your horse will have had a successful show and learning experience and you will be looking forward to planning for your next competition
All the best