What is your name?
Please share a little about yourself and your background.
I’m an Adult Amateur competitor (USDF Bronze & Silver Medals, Bronze Bar) and have been involved with the sport since 1990 when I decided that if I wanted to see my late wife, I’d better get back into horses (I grew up on a farm and rode for fun). I’m a retired businessman having run a direct marketing company for 25 years after practicing law for 10 years.
I’ve been active in the USDF BOG for years and am currently the Regional Director for Region 6.
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?
I was on the board of my GMO when I responded to a plea for a “one-time co-volunteer coordinator.” Ten years later my co-coordinator and I passed the baton. During that time, a friend asked me if I’d be willing to secretary her small, one-ring show and being ignorant, I said sure! At the end of the show, my late wife told me I was never to do that again, but I invited her to come to coffee with my (our) friend to talk about the show. We sandbagged her and she agreed I could do it again.
It’s now been 10+ years of doing the shows (now two a year plus schooling shows) as manager/secretary. I’ve also managed/secretaried shows for my GMOs.
How many dressage shows do you run each year (approximately) and where are they located?
My base is two licensed shows, level 2, one-ring, but we’ve added schooling shows, in Western Washington.
Do you have a second career outside of show management?
I retired in 2006 so I don’t really have any career at all. I became an “r” TD a few years ago and try to do several shows a year. Until recently, I was a scuba instructor and I still organize/run scuba diving trips.
Do you own horses/ride/compete in dressage or another discipline? If so, tell us about your horse!
I do own a competition horse, a 22-year-old Arab/Hanoverian gelding who is currently leased to a wonderful Army Airborne member who got her USDF Bronze Medal on him in 2020 and should get her Silver this year. As a result of “life changes” (including hip replacement surgery) I haven’t been riding much at all the last 18 months, but I hope to compete, and complete, my Silver Bar in 2021. I’ve written about my horse, Iggy (Enigma), and it was published in the July/August, 2019 issue of Connection magazine (page 64).
What is your favorite part of being a dressage show manager or secretary?
I suppose my most favorite part is making the competitors happy by creating a wonderful show environment. My goal is always to make sure the competitors have no idea how messed up things can be!
What qualifications make a great dressage show manager or secretary and what are the greatest challenges of the job?
You must be able to multitask and prioritize issues. I’m not at all sure one can be a good manager or secretary unless one is also a competitor (or at least has been a competitor) because you need to put yourself in their shoes to understand how to best create a comfortable/friendly environment.
I came from a customer service background, not a horse facility background, and I believe having run a customer service company for a long time before I started working shows makes a huge difference. I know that my customer, the competitor, is a prize and so I understand that pretty much whatever it takes to make the customer/competitor happy, is what I’ll do (if I can). I (and we in my show) try to go out of our way to make sure “the customer is always right” (or at least satisfied).
For me, the greatest challenge is to keep my mouth shut when I just want to scream “GET OUT OF MY OFFICE” – unfortunately, I’m not always up to the challenge!
Bonus: Do you have any tips or advice you would like to share to someone who is interested in dressage show management? Yup – the same advice I give to people who say they want to become a TD.
a. Be a competitor and compete at least through Third Level so that you have a solid idea of how a competition looks to an active competitor.
b. Be a volunteer at shows and do ALL of the jobs – be a scribe (and not just once, do it often); be a ring steward; be a scorer; do ALL the jobs and more than once. Understand what the volunteers do (and being a volunteer coordinator is a great way of learning that!).
c. Volunteer to be on the show committee of the GMO or facility that is running shows and be active on that. Help create the prize list (at least offer to proofread it); be an assistant secretary and actually work at it (learn the software the show uses); help set up the show and tear it down.
In other words, just get involved with as many parts of a show as possible.