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Saturday's Subject - Showing, part II

Feeling pretty good- sticking to my Saturday plan of updating the CHF blog! Continuing on with this subject of showing, why do it, and my thoughts when I hear a fellow rider say 'I'm done'.

I'm an advocate for if you have prepared, you deserve to be there. Coach or no coach. Showing is not just for pros, the barn team, or those who have the fanciest tack/horse, etc. What does limit the number of shows or the showing experience for many is the cost. Showing is expensive. No questioning that. Horses are expensive, tack is often more that some pay for the horse, and then there is the truck, trailer, barn or board, the list goes on and on. I personally stick with un-rated shows. These are shows that are not USEF rated and often called schooling shows. The cost of classes is usually $10 or more less that a rated show and all the fees are also about half. I have not seen much of a difference for stalls other than most non-rated shows are 2-3 days and rated shows, which may last several weeks, you pay for the stall for that full show week. When I have done the math, stalls are about the same per day so no big savings there when looking at non-rated.

Referring back to the post I saw about a rider stating " I'm done", there was mention of the cost. The author was done with a sport where horses cost more than cars and trailers cost more than houses. A sport that preaches equality but promotes elitism. Also, 'done' with the early wake up alarm and being queasy not just from nerves but from knowing how much money was spent on the day ahead from entry fees, training/coaching, and the diesel in the truck.

For me, yes, showing is expensive but as I am a planner, I start saving in November for the upcoming show year. I put together a tentative show schedule in January based on when and distance. I also rarely attend a rated shows. I look for shows that have been fun in the past, or if a new show, some quick facebook searching can give me an idea a past show was well run and fun. I also check out the venue. Very important. Is it an equestrian park with plenty of stalls, RV parking, several arenas with, and this is a big deal - good footing? Is the arena specifically for hunter/jumpers or is it deemed 'general purpose'. If general purpose, what are the majority of events? This is important as I have found that arenas primarily used by western events have footing that is not the greatest for jumping. Just ask my sensitive and opinionated OTTBs. Most the shows I attend regularly respect that the riders are coming for a good experience, supportive environment and somewhat affordable. Thus they stay unrated.

I have not usually felt that the show fees and class fees have made me change my mind about attending, until very recently. Thus I am feeling the "I'm Done" author's vibe a bit. My favorite show of the year at one of my favorite venues confirmed the show was on. I was thrilled! This particular group used to do a spring and a winter show. Loved both and attended both ( a 12 hr drive to get there). The past several years, the spring show has not happened due to COVID, then the venue double booked another year, etc. The Winter show continues but did drop the evening party the last few years. I like the parties! I like a full show experience. I don't like just showing and then go back to the hotel ( or LQ trailer in my case). I want the horse show and evening camaraderie with my fellow riders via after show parties! But even with lack of the after show party, still love this show. Very glad it was happening, so glad that I failed to even read the premium until just the other day.

Downloaded the premium to check the schedule and pretty much the same as past years. All good there! Since I moved Kitchen up a level in Jumpers, would have some time conflicts with Red's classes so should I take 3 equines? hmmmm, decisions, decisions. While contemplating this, I looked over the fee schedule. That is when my joy left. The class fees were as much as a rated show. Actually more. I checked. In the same area, there is a rated show going on. A big time rated show that carries on for several weeks. The class fees were the same and some even less than my favorite un-rated show. The mandatory shows fees also went up. Stalls for the 3 days increased. To say that I am a tad bummed is an understatement. I get there is inflation but that fact that a USEF rate show, with prize money possible in each division, is the same cost as an un-rated show, with no division prize money possible, is very sad. Non-rated shows are here for us to bring our greenies, to see how a horse handles a higher division, to laugh when things dont go as planned and enter another class to try again, and the best part of un-rated shows, help the horse learn. Do things that are usually not the 'norm' for serious, rate shows. And do these things without the cost of a rated show!

So I am currently experiencing a wave of " i'm done" at least for this upcoming show. I am still not sure what I will do. I know that it's only going to add about $200 ( per horse) from previous shows. So definitely will only take 2 horses, rather than 3. But then there is the gas or in my case, diesel. The hope was fuel would be coming down a bit and it did, until 3 weeks ago. Now it is creeping back up and apparently where we would be going, almost $6 a gallon. Diesel is supposed to be the more affordable fuel! So with fuel adding an extra $400 onto the trip, show class fees up $10 per class, increased office fees, increased early arrival fees, increased $ overall, I just may have to be logical and skip the show. If this is the future state of this show, then I can plan accordingly for 2023 but for the moment, might have to go with a temporary "I'm done".

I can just hope this is not the future state of unrated shows. If their fees are going to match that of rated shows, then maybe rated shows are the better way to go as most do offer the same classes with division prize money. Anything to help offset the cost. Downside is that there is less learning for green horses at rated since the environment is very competitive. As for my dilemma - suck it up and just pay the extra cash or skip this one until next year? Well, there are a few other local things happening the same weekend.


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