Meet the Show Manager – Jennifer Riggs

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Jennifer Riggs

Please share a little about yourself and your background.  

I was born and raised in Austin, TX. I rode at Hobby Horse Stables, except for a year away at Grover’s in Charlottesville, VA from age 6-16, then I picked it up again 25 years ago, at which time I ended up buying a barn, then expanded it over the past 24 years to include covered arenas, trails, etc.

What is your primary role at a dressage competition?

Manager of shows at my barn.

How did you get started and how long have you been involved in dressage show management?    

As a non-pro competitor with a barn to run and a day job, I could not always go to Houston or Dallas, or even San Antonio, for shows. Texas is spread out.  I relied on our local GMO to host a recognized show in the Austin area. When my GMO decided to stop doing so, that left us with only one recognized show in the area, from another local GMO. It is a great show, but I wanted to provide a second, small, local recognized show for others like me who needed options here in the Austin area. Our first show was held in 2019 (Intro through Grand Prix). Our second is coming up.  We will probably end up doing a second recognized show each year, but only through Fourth level.

How many dressage shows do you run each year (approximately) and where are they located?

I am manager only for my show in Manor, TX.  We host a couple of schooling shows for our local GMO, some clinics, and some pony club events, but others assume primary management responsibility for those.  Having management skills, however, enables me to assist. 

Do you have a second career outside of show management?  

I have practiced law for over 35 years.

Do you own horses/ride/compete in dressage or another discipline?

If so, tell us about your horse!  I currently have five horses.  I ride a 17.2 Trakehner gelding that is solid at Second Level, struggling to become uphill enough (and rideable enough) for Third Level.  I used to show a lot, but am focused on getting him to a new level before reentering the ring.  I have a nice Royal Hit/Pik line mare that is Intro/Training Level. My gelding’s mother is retired, and lives on the property with a broodmare. I also have a former Young Rider horse who taught me a lot after he left that career, but who had to be retired due to shivers.

What is your favorite part of being a dressage show manager or secretary?  

Playing hostess and solving problems.  I know what it is like to show without a team and I want to make the process as easy and fun as possible, especially for non-pros juggling competitions with day jobs, families, etc. Being away from your home barn is stressful.

What qualifications make a great dressage show manager or secretary and what are the greatest challenges of the job?

The ability to do any job at the show, the willingness to jump in to get any job done, but the wisdom to let those to whom a job is delegated do the job without micromanaging. And patience, with the greatest challenge being to maintain it.

Do you have any tips or advice you would like to share to someone who is interested in dressage show management?

 If you can breathe deep and smile under stress, and not take things personally, you will do fine!

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