A Conversation with a Competition Manager

Martie Healy

What is your name?

Martie Healy

Please share a little about yourself and your background.

I was an air force brat and lived all over the country while growing up. I graduated from the University of Maryland and worked in show business (mostly musical comedies) until I turned 30 and realized that Broadway was not terribly interested. I had ridden for fun as a child and started competing in hunter/jumper when I bought my first horse, in the Chicago area. However, I changed to eventing when I found out that there were definite ride times and you could gallop cross-county. I evented in the Chicago and surrounding states area until we moved to a 200-acre farm in Florida, where I started running my own events and shows. I became a licensed Course Designer (have since retired this license), started Equestrian Secretarial Services, and learned how to write databases and code websites. After we sold the farm (got to be too much work for just my husband and me), I expanded ESS to run shows for other people and started specializing in dressage. Some highlights of my ESS career include: secretary for Dressage At Lexington from 2004 – 2016; working as one of the North Carolina Dressage and Combined Training Association (NCDCTA) show managers from 2008 – 2019, including managing Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Dressage Championships, the BLM Championships, and the NCDCTA Championships during this time.

What is your primary role at a dressage competition? (manager, secretary, both) 


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

See above for how I got started – I began ESS in 1992.

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

Currently, I secretary three shows in Tampa, FL, and manage three shows at the Carolina Horse Park, in Raeford. Two of the shows in NC are under my own license.

Do you have a second career outside of show management?

Not at this time, although, I am a certified paralegal and sometimes toy with the idea of getting a real day job.

Do you own horses/ride/compete in dressage or another discipline? If so, tell us about your horse! 

Sold all my horses when we sold the farm. I try to compete in tennis these days.

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

Interacting with competitors and giving away prizes and ribbons.

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

Attention to detail is key, and also really liking to work with people. These days, you must be very computer literate also. You must excel at solving issues quickly and equitably. And you must be ready to own up to mistakes and fix them quickly. One of the challenges is keeping up with the rule changes – they happen so frequently these days.

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

Be prepared for very long hours! Be ready to enjoy some of the sweetest moments of your life with your competitors and their horses, but also be ready to eat humble pie when you make mistakes.

Be sure to check out Martie’s story “Hurricane on Her Parade” previously published on YourDressage to read about her show management skills being put to the test.

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