Monday, July 14, 2014

How Not To Annoy The Show Manager

I'm now on year two of being the Show Secretary/Manager/Organizer for my local USDF GMO. I really enjoy doing it and, for the most part, people are really great. However, sometimes competitors can be a little annoying. I attribute this to just not having a good idea of how dressage shows are set up and run. So, here's some tips from a show manager that will help you endear yourself to the Powers That Be of the shows you go to.

First and foremost, put down as much information as you can on the entry form. Seriously, that's what all those boxes are for. I need all that information to assign you to your appropriate classes and give out High Score awards. My club has high score awards for certain breeds and mares, AAs and Juniors. You're going to be left out if you don't fill in that information. And, don't worry about breed bias or bias against AAs from the judge. The judge never sees the entries, those are for my eyes only. All the judge knows is your name and your horse's name. 

Then, when you're done filling everything out, proofread it! Nothing is worse than getting an entry where the class number and class description don't match, or one with handwriting so bad that I can't figure out how to spell your name or your horse's name. And it's even worse if you didn't give me an email address or phone number on your illegible form. 

Please put your contact information on the entry form. That goes back to my first paragraph about filling out the whole entry form. I promise I'm not selling your contact information for profit. I'm not giving it out to anyone, I'm not going to stalk you. I need it so that I can ask you questions about your illegible entry form, notify you of your time, and mail you any High Score or other awards you might have won. 

Lastly, but not leastly, if you have any special requests as to timing, please let me know when you send your entry in. I try to be as accomadating as possible, but I'm not a mind reader. If I send out the day sheets, and then you tell me that you have to have a morning ride, I'm going to be really annoyed. Also, if you tell me you need a morning ride time, but what you really need is a ride time before 9 am, then you need to tell me "before 9 am" on your entry and not "morning ride time". If you only want 20 minutes between your rides, tell me. If you need 2 hours between your rides, tell me. If you're trailering in with your friend and need a time close to theirs, tell me. I promise I won't think you're crazy or bitch about you. I've been showing horses for many years, I understand. For me, as the show manager, nothing is worse than hearing a competitor say after the show, "Well, I could have done better, but we didn't have enough time/had too much time between rides and Poopsykins can't handle that." I want you to do well and have fun at my show, but you have to communicate with me. 

Example: I have a regular competitor at my shows who comes with horses of her own, and usually some students, too. She goes above and beyond with letting me know her timing requests. She tells me which horses need their tests ridden back to back, which ones need a long break between tests, who she's coaching and how long she needs for that. I friggen' love her. I can't always get everything exactly as she needs it, but I can get it close because she tells me what she needs. 

Finally... and this is my best piece of advice.... If you had a good time at the show be sure to let the show secretary/manager know. If you had a bad time, you should also let me know so I can fix it, but people aren't really shy about that.

If you had a good time at my show, and take the time to shoot me an email or a phone call or a Facebook message afterwards to thank me, I guarantee that I'll remember that and I'll remember you. And then I'll tolerate a lot more of your shenanigans. 

Bottom line: The Show Secretary/Manager is just a person. We are not omniscient, nor are we competitor-hating trolls bent on ruining you. Most of the people who work a dressage show are unpaid volunteers, and that includes show secretaries/managers. Most shows don't turn a profit, because the overhead for a show is ridiculous. We're putting on shows because we love the sport and we love the competitors. We really want you to have a good time, that's why we're doing this. Please communicate with us!


  1. Great words of advice! I'm going to my first show in quite a few years so I will keep that in mind :)

  2. Really good advice. A little dose of patience goes a long way.

  3. Great advice! I've had to contact the show secretary a few times, and I always hope I'm not being an annoying crazy needy competitor! I try to keep conversations short, concise and typed for everyone's sake :)

  4. This is such a great post!! I'll read it again whenever I go to my first show. :D

  5. Love it!!!! Coming from the endurance world where having enough trails to actually go 100 miles is tough to find, having a big enough field for riders to camp in, and never having enough volunteers, I have been a bit surprised to see riders complain at all. I treat EVERY SINGLE person associated with a show like they are my BEST FRIEND. How could we show if we didn't have such GENEROUS people to put these things on? Bless you for doing it, and I promise that I complete each entry form meticulously with as few special requests as possible, but I do make requests because as you say, show secretaries can't read your mind. An excellent reminder post for people who want to show. Thanks!


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