When I took March off of riding to write my thesis I thought nothing but that desperately, terrifically, incredibly important document could rip me away from riding for so many days on end. I was wrong. It turns out that helping organize a one-day event, teaching 75%, AND trying to finish my thesis will do it too.
Helping to organize the WSS one-day has been a lot of fun and a lot of work (and we are still looking for volunteers if you’re local!!!). I’m honing my skills in all kinds of non-science related areas — graphic design, painting, negotiating, inventory, entering information into little fields on the computer…. the overlap with my thesis is a little astonishing, now that I think about it. Based on my experience organizing the event, here’s my Hand Gallop rip-off
Friday Five: Things your Show Organizer Wants You To Know.
1. Online entries are the best entries
USEA offers online entries for all rated events, and there are even online entries for some unrated events. I use the online module whenever possible (unless it incurs a higher fee), but I’ve had some interesting discussions with people who absolutely love filling in their entries by hand (not just the paperwork, the entry too). After sitting in front of the computer and looking up peoples’ and horses’ USEA and USEF numbers to populate the entries for our event, I just about hate people who send in their entries on paper only. One night sorting out 30 entries took three of us three hours (to be fair, we were dealing with lots of paperwork, incomplete entries, and waitlisting issues, but still! I am an efficient mofo, and that was a really long time!)
Sometimes funny things do happen in this. Like a couple of riders who you know to be husband and wife, where Mrs. enters online and Mr. sends in a hand-written entry on the last post date. Or looking at the postmark sticker on a Fedex flat envelope mailed at 4 PM on closing day and knowing that they probably spent as much money on overnight postage as they would have on the post date fees.
2. Your entry fees don’t go as far as you think
I have never personally thought that the USEA fees of 225-ish for a rated event at Training or below are particularly steep, but pretty much anyone can multiple $225 x 100 riders and come up with A Lot of Money. So where does all that money go, you may wonder? Shockingly, not into event manager or owner pockets. First, it costs a lot to build, maintain, and manage a cross country course. Those fences take a beating sometimes, and cost $350 at the low end to build, and $800 for a pretty standard prelim fence. That’s 1.-3 riders’ entries per fence! There are the professionals you pay to be at the show, professionals you pay to prep the grounds before the show, and lots and lots and lots of supplies to buy (60 entries right there). Even with sponsors,things add up quick! (Good quality satin actually also somewhat costly.)
3. The eventing elders are amazingly supportive
We would not have been able to run this event without the guidance of many area officials, technical delegates, course designers, officials, and other “elders” of the eventing community who have more experience at this than we do. And those elders have been incredibly generous with their time and expertise. To run this event I have cold-called more Big Name Trainers/Riders/Judges/Officials than I care to count, and not one of them has been ungenerous with their time or blown me off for asking what seems (to me) like a silly question that I should have been able to answer on my own. That. Is. Awesome.
I’m just one person on a team working towards getting this show up and running, and this absolutely would not be possible without the rest of us. Though I consider myself a pretty competent (nay, highly efficient and fairly intelligent) there are still things that slip past me, and the other team members catch those. Then there are things that slip past them that I catch. Maybe someone who has done this a LOT can run a show on her own, but I certainly couldn’t!
5. Volunteers really are the heart and soul of the show
For a single one day event, running only three dressage courts and one SJ ring, we need something like 50 volunteers for the day. I have no idea how many volunteers the big three-day events need, or (honestly more scary) the big one-day events run on the East coast. How do you get through 300 riders in ONE DAY?? Absurdity. I have always been willing to volunteer at shows as long as I don’t have to drive too far, but this honestly makes me willing to volunteer at so many more shows!
(I also heard that USEA is considering rewarding volunteers who contribute the most to shows during the year. We ALL KNOW that the shows couldn’t run without them!)