Now that I have been back into the swing of participating in USEA recognized events, it is certainly clear that some shows really have it all down pat while others are just plain disorganized.
I’ve come to really like or dislike certain things about how horse trials are run or what they offer. A lot has changed since I evented in the early 2000’s… we didn’t have the same kind of technology then as we do now. Shoot, I remember getting my ride times in the mail on a postcard. With all of these changes I have noticed a lot of things that make me more or less likely to want to attend a certain event. So lets start with things I consider to be perks:
TIP awards – I love thoroughbreds, I love my thoroughbred, and I love the TIP program. If you offer TIP awards I am much more likely to want to come to your show.
Startbox Scoring – It’s kind of annoying how some shows use Event Entries and others use Startbox, but I have to say – Startbox is way better. I’ve never had a problem pulling up anything or finding anything on their website, and updates happen timely. I’ve had a lot of issues with Event Entries though, either not updating or just not being particularly user friendly.
MyCourseWalk – There is one event here that posts their courses the week before the event on MyCourseWalk. I love this. I like being able to see it in advance, plot it out in my mind, and already have a good idea of the course before I get there and start walking. Plus the courses stay on MCW so you’re able to go back and look at previous years, or look at a venue you haven’t been to before to get an idea for what they have on their course. I wish more venues would use it.
Competitor dinners – Almost everyone has these now, which I really like. It’s a good way to get people rubbing elbows and talking to each other, plus it’s nice to have at least one meal taken care of while you’re on the road. I greatly appreciate them, especially when they don’t charge the non-competitors either (our helpers are just as important!).
On the flip side of the coin, there are a few things that drive me really crazy:
Not posting entries or results in a semi-timely manner – if it’s past closing date and you still haven’t posted any of the entries you’ve received, you’re way behind the ball. I like to know that my entry got there, that it’s all complete, that it’s all correct, and that I don’t owe you any more money. On the same token, if it’s been an hour and a half since my division wrapped up and there are still no scores posted, I’m going to start getting impatient. Keeping up to date on your paperwork and keeping people informed goes a long way in making an event look organized, competitor-friendly, and on the ball.
Dangerous stabling – if a normal sized horse cannot easily turn around in the aisles, they’re too narrow. If the stalls are so old and rusted and bent that a horse can get a hoof stuck in the bars, it’s time to replace them. If the doors won’t stay shut without having to be tied up, fix them. If the barn is going to flood in a rain storm because there isn’t appropriate drainage or gutters, put it in. There are a lot of irreplaceable and well-loved horses staying there, please make us feel like they’re safe while they’re at your facility.
Not splitting divisions – maybe this is just my “I need AEC placings” craziness setting in, but if you’ve got enough entries to split up your divisions into Junior, Senior, and Open divisions please do it. Horse show 101 is to have as many people walk away happy as possible, so do yourself a favor and split that stuff up. One big division kinda sucks.
Volunteer education – please please please take 15 minutes to educate your volunteers on their duties. Jump judges need to know where is or is not an appropriate place to sit, they need to know what constitutes a refusal, etc. Scribes should know how to make the shorthand comments as readable as possible. The people in charge of parking should know where each barn is. I love that our sport is so volunteer based, and I love volunteering, but we need to make sure we’re doing a good job of setting our volunteers up for success.
I’m sure there’s a lot I’m forgetting here. Fellow competitors (not just eventers!) what are some of the things that you love to see or drive you crazy at your competitions?