The Value of Showing Locally

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By Lucille Sullivan

This article won the 2018 GMO Newsletter Award in general-interest for GMOs with fewer than 75 members. It first appeared in the October 2018 “The LIDA Extension” Newsletter

The third week of September is marked by the Region 8 Dressage Championships held as part of the NEDA Fall Festival of Dressage. This is a huge competition held at the HITS on the Hudson show grounds in Saugerties, New York. There are six competition rings and four schooling rings accommodating a CDI, Regional Championships, Regional show and Breed Show simultaneously. So, you have to ask yourself, as a member of the Long Island Dressage Association (LIDA), what do the regional championships have to do with me? I never intend to show at that level. Or, I would love to make that a goal of mine. How can I prepare myself and my horse for that? This, my friends, is precisely where the local, one day shows that are being sponsored by LIDA and some of our local farm owners have tremendous value for you.

Showing your horse successfully requires that the basic training of your horse can be correct and that you develop the skill set necessary to utilize that basic training in front of a judge and spectators. Exposure and practice are key in developing these skills. Often, we find ourselves underprepared and underexposed when we arrive at the large competitions. The hard reality of life is that we have limited resources to accomplish our goals. When I speak of resources, I am referring of course to our finances, but also our time; time off from work, time away from our husbands, time away from our children, time with one child and not another if it is our child that is the competitor, etc. Your trainer’s time is also a resource, one that you, as a student, must pay for. The longer the show, the more time the trainer spends away from their other clients and family, and the higher your expense. Our horse’s energy is a resource as well. The stimulation of the show environment has a different effect on every horse and part of successful showing entails figuring out what works best for your partner. These are all components that can be figured out through the use of the local shows. The local one day show is a building block to success at the regional finals, if that is your eventual goal. If that is not your goal then the existence of the local show is absolutely essential to your participation in the sport of dressage.

Let me speak for a moment to the professionals that are part of our GMO. It is to the benefit and the continuation of our sport and the profession in our region that we band together and support the local shows, both schooling shows and recognized shows. The mastery of dressage is difficult and best accomplished in an environment that is friendly, encouraging and uplifting to all involved. If we encourage and respect one another we will all improve. To coin an old adage “a rising tide raises all ships.”

So, let’s try to reduce this to dollars and cents. As a consumer, how much can I save by showing locally as opposed to going to Connecticut or New Jersey for a one day show and eventually to Saugerties, New York for that four or five-day show? Here are the basic assumptions for the sake of this example:

  • You own your own horse. Of course, if you don’t, you must add a daily horse rental fee.
  • You ride in one class per day. Remember that your horse’s energy is one of your resources.
  • If the show is in a place that you can get to from Long Island by ferry as opposed to sitting in traffic and stressing your horse, we are going to take that option. Again remember, your horse’s energy is one of your resources.
  • You do not own your own trailer, so either a professional or your trainer must get your horse to the competition.
  • You are not Wonder Woman, so you will be hiring a groom to help you arrive at the show ring on time looking incredible.
  • Your trainer charges you $100 per day to coach, I assure you this is a deal, and you pay his or her expense for the duration of the show.

So, here it is:

The cost to attend a one day show:

  • Class fee $65
  • USDF drug fee, qualifying fees, administration fees, etc. $65
  • Transportation to the show $150
  • Grooming $100
  • Coaching $100
  • Braiding $50

Total cost for a one-day show $530.

The cost to attend a two-day show:

(This is assuming you arrive the day before to school your horse and settle in, the show is about 100 miles away and the transporter charges you $1.50 per mile.)

  • Class fees $130
  • USDF drug fee, qualifying fees, administration fees, etc. $75
  • Transportation to the show $300
  • Ferry, 2 ways (this charge is customarily in addition to the mileage charge) $300
  • Grooming, three days $300
  • Coaching, three days $300
  • Hotel for yourself and your groom, 2 nights $300
  • Hotel for your trainer $300
  • Stall for your horse $200
  • Meals (breakfast ($10), lunch ($15), dinner($25) for 3 people $450
  • Braiding $100

Total cost for a two-day show $2,755.

You and your horse have successfully earned the scores necessary to qualify for regional championships. You are both sufficiently comfortable at the one day local shows, the busier multi-ring two day shows and you have made the choice to compete at the regional finals. In this example, the ferry doesn’t make sense so we are going to travel the 200 miles and leave at 5 am to try and minimize the traffic and wear and tear on our horse. Here we go:

The cost to attend Regional Championships:

  • Class fees $300
  • USDF drug fee, qualifying fees, administration fees, etc. $125
  • Transportation to the show $600
  • Tolls, 2 ways $75
  • Grooming, five days $500
  • Coaching, five days $500
  • Hotel for yourself and your groom, 4 nights $600
  • Hotel for your trainer $600
  • Stall for your horse $400
  • Paddock for your horse $200
  • Meals (breakfast ($10), lunch ($15), dinner($25) for 3 people $750
  • Braiding $200

Total cost for a two-day show $4,850.

Again, I realize that everyone’s situation is different. Some of us own trailers and have supportive husbands that come and groom for us. Some of us set goals to only show locally. Others of us want to compete at regionals and even nationals. The sport of dressage is as individual as each of us and each of our horses are but what we do all have in common is that the local one day show holds a tremendous value for all of us. Let’s all get out and support our local shows. It shouldn’t be costing farm owners or GMOs to host them!

Happy and successful showing to all!

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