money and fear

Money and fear are hot topics right now, it seems. So I have some questions about prize money and the ratings of horse shows. One of the biggest conversations I hear about around here, is show managers having to pay out a certain amount of prize money in order to KEEP their rating. I looked up on the USEF website a checklist for Prize List Requirements and found this. GUIDELINES!

This excerpt captured my attention:

A minimum of $5,000 total in prize money must be offered in the “A” rated Hunter sections of an “A” competition. A maximum of $2,000 total in Hunter Classic prize money can be used towards calculating the $5,000 of required prize money for an “A” rated competition. HU160 o A minimum of $25,000 total in prize money must be offered in the “A” rated Hunter sections of an “AA” competition. A maximum of $5,000 total of Hunter Classic prize money can be used towards calculating the $25,000 of required prize money for an “A” rated competition.

So, as a horse owner, I am going to have to choose if I want to go to a horse show based on several things, but let’s address the cost of entries, first. What amount am I going to be expected to write that big old check for? Mind you, I have pre-green horses.

DIVISION FEES: $200.00, 4 o/f classes and an under saddle at an A show. After reading the checklist I am guessing that the 200 is going to the 25k that is arbitrarily (?) required by the horse show to pay out. So how did we get to the 25K? I think this comes from the Show Standard Committee. Who the heck is the Show Standards Committee? I looked on the USEF website and couldn’t find a show or competition committee, but then I went to USHJA and found one called the Competition Standards Committee List. ok cool, it is 17 people……

I have to assume they, as a group, came to the number of 25k with a carefully devised scientific approach, because this is the horse show world, after all. Do they take into consideration the area, hotel options, facility, etc.?  yes probably, I found this here.

5 Competition options! 5! Wow, that is a lot to take in. However the first line tells you to please refer to this guide:

I had to print that all out it was so much to look at. 13 pages to be exact, poor trees. Now I am beginning to see the science of it all.

A checklist of requirements for each of the 5 levels of competition levels, including jumbotrons (wtf) horse ambulances, bathrooms, size of rings, food, water trucks, photographer, camper hook ups, wifi, golf cart rentals, weather protection for people, etc, etc, there is a lot there. read it.

I am not sure how to correlate the importance of a jumbotron to a pregreen hunter, but someone has apparently insisted that a scoreboard is a really important expense for a horse show. Golf Cart Companies may have lobbied for their own presence, even though I am not sure outside of Wellington, Thermal or Kentucky, you would actually not be able to walk or ride a bike, or ride a horse to get to the ring…

So now my measly $200.00 division fee has contributed to the 25k payout AND all of these other perks I didn’t know I needed. And with a medium to low entered A show USEF passed a rule that says that the money from the divisions that don’t fill has to be redistributed to the Champions and Reserves from the A divisions — 60% champions, 40% reserve champions… seems a little lopsided to me, when there are other lower rated divisions happy to have some help at check out! Not only that, is the USEF looking to help the horse shows that are on the struggle bus due to weather, timing, maybe in the first year, conflicts, people haven’t included them in their schedules yet, or whatever they are doing on that bus?

The stall fee of $250 is going to the facility, right, temporary stalls, lighting, wash racks, and all that? Not too many people must like me when I ship in, then, and work off the trailer. I see a $30.00 grounds fee here to make up for it, though, ok, what a relief. I am helping again.

Now, my next question would be, if we lower that 25k to say 10k, would we get to pay less at the end of the day? Too much of a drop? 15K 20K? Why not? Standards of showing are going to drop? I think showing will recover if you make a move like that, then later raise it back up again. I don’t know, but when someone tells me I can’t do something my first thought is WHY NOT?!  Am I showing my pregreen horse for all that prize money? Probably not, I am most likely trying to get it sold. I could give a fuck about winning prize money back, I would like my bill for the weekend to be about $250.00 total, however. Is there a real risk in changing the payout of A shows? Is there so much energy put into rewarding the winner that people won’t play the game unless they KNOW they are going to win? Because the trickle down payout is so low after 2nd place?

Interestingly enough, these horse show facilities already exist. Looking briefly into the future at that unstable global economy we keep hearing about, I doubt we will see many more new horse show facilities being built. Tryon is a currently under construction, but that money was there a few years ago, they will be ok, as long as we keep showing up. So if the facilities are already here, and the managers utilize the facility for ALL types of horse shows, local, regional, A, AA, B, during the year, and then come December look at which of those shows made them the most money, will it be the A or AA? Probably, yes, because they can demand higher division fees from an exhibitor. So will the manager push for more A and AA rated shows and leave fewer options for exhibitors who maybe haven’t justified the costs yet?   How fascinating.

Why is this relevant? Fear. Tricky. Why do people seem so afraid? This isn’t a monsters in the closet kind of fear. I am talking about a literal, genuine fear keeping people from exploring options for horse showing – creative options for people who love to ride, own horses, sell horses, show in nice places. Ironically, there is an incredible opportunity here to make really good money. Would the USEF and USHJA try to take over a successful unrecognized series in order to reconcile those costs so desperately needed? Goodness, I hope not. So much silence for so long, while a monopoly has gained strength, and shown behavioral signs of acting like a police state. Strange, no? Is it so difficult to get really good ideas accomplished, that, after years of trying, being pushed aside, the people with suggestions are just too tired to give a damn? Do you wonder what really goes on at conventions?

Does setting examples with infractions of high profile riders instill this fear? Are those tactics working? When you complain about someone at a horse show, and the person next to you says, “don’t worry, that is already being taken care of, that person is already in loads of trouble with the organization”, does it make you question what the hell is going on? like some brotherhood? Is this peculiar? Is this why people walk away? Nawww that doesn’t happen, I’m just kidding.

The irony in going after so called cheaters at the highest level of sport is hilarious to me. They are cheaters. at the highest level of our sport, they are cheaters with money. Cheaters are ALWAYS going to cheat! When you catch them, they will just get sneakier about CHEATING! Those guys have NO FEAR. You will chase them forever, and waste all the money you need for other things, like staff.

I want to see innovative thinking, without the fear. When Classic Company announced they were offering basically free showing for pregreen horses, ($5.00 division fees for January- March of 2016) I halted all of my plans to go to Florida in one fell swoop. Why did he do that? That is AMAZING! Did he see the writing on the wall? People WANT to be loyal to management companies, they WANT to be comfortable where they show and who they show with. Shake up the system enough so more people without all the fancy rigs, grooms, and luxury items help you pay for your industry you love so dearly. The midlevel horsemen do really good things, they can’t afford the tools to cheat with, so more of them know how to ride, teach, and train, and develop. There is so much complaining going on about developing the next generation, it boggles my mind. It is not that hard to figure out, make the younger people work harder. Don’t just have a free clinic in Wellington, have one in some part of the country that needs help and has good resources. People will come together in abundance if they are not constantly being told that the organizations are merely catering to upper echelon. Close that gap, people, close that gap.


One thought on “money and fear

  1. Your post only underlines the fact that horseshows are following the exact same trends as our society. We should be trying to close the gap, but the gap is only getting bigger and bigger… Keep trying though! 😄


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