How Would You Improve New England?

I was having an email discussion with a friend and the topic surfaced as to whether Northampton show grounds needed to be updated to be more exhibitor-friendly. 

Although I haven’t been involved in the Morgan horse world for a terribly long time, I have been told that the New England show is steeped with history and tradition and was considered “The National” show for many years.  What I find interesting is that not only the show itself that holds this mystique, but a major contributing factor is the  location.  At one time, I believe, the show was moved to a what was considered a better facility.  However, it was moved back to Northampton at the request of a large percent of exhibitors and owners (Please let me know if this isn’t correct, but I think I heard that story at one time).

More than once, however, I have also heard that, while this show can be magical, it can also be a disaster.  People have told me about such things as flooding of the stalls and main ring, and lack of warm up spaces (especially when it is rainy weather) when the indoor ring is in use.

So I want to know…Do you think that, given the Morgan History it holds, the  grounds deserved some repair and updating?  Or do you think that if any changes are made it will somehow mar those old memories?   Also if you do think updates are needed, what changes would you make if you could?

21 Responses to How Would You Improve New England?

  1. GoodLookinGal says:

    If it takes a move to get my horse out from under water, I am fine with that. I love New england, but the horses make the horse show, not the grounds, and those facilities are deplorable.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This New England was a struggle – between the thunder storms, heat and mud it was difficult to do your best. What was with the indoor arena – so many horses loosing their shoes…

  3. Anonymous says:

    They are working on restorations but they will not be complete for a long time. I agree- it is the competition that makes the show great, not the facilities. As long as we keep getting quality entries I think the show will keep overcoming the delapidated grounds

  4. frustrated says:

    My daughter has participated in the New England Horse Show for many years. It has rained for most of the shows and the mud was very deep. One year, there was so much rain and mud that our camper was several feet underwater. Because of these conditions, we left the show before it was completed.

    I hear that the show grounds management were given a several million dollar grant to improve the facilities. I hope that this grant money is spent wisely. I personally feel that the charge of $400.00 for a golf cart and $400.00 to be housed in tent city, where you could not move around in the mud, was an overcharge. I know that some of you feel that a gold cart may or may not be necessary, but as any who has attended the show is aware, you need the golf cart to get around.

    As far of the judgeing, I saw the class where the exhibitor needed assistance with her horse, yet she ribboned. I too could not understand how she was given a ribbon over riders that did not experience any problems. I also saw a young lady get excused from her class because of her horse being naughty. If the judges overlook some naughty horses, it is only fair that they apply the practice to all participants.

  5. bella92290 says:

    Wow, NE has really sparked lots of chatter! I spent the whole week in NE and I will say my peace about it. The grounds are part of NE and I think we should stay there. BUT something needs to be done about when it RAINS. That is where the money should be spent. We have many shows at the NYS Fairgrounds and they are a DUMP compared to NE, the only blessing there is we can easily handle rain. As for the price, I agree, gotten out of hand, the cost of golf carts, etc…even the tack stalls there are costly. That is my two cents on this topic =)

  6. Anonymous says:

    I think NE is waaay overpriced. I don’t think it would be the same if it moved because of the history that’s there. Something really needs to happen with SEATING! There is not enough room to accomodate the huge numbers that attend. A lot of barns can’t even get a box. And the boxes are so expensive and the people are jammed in like sardines. There are like 4 barns to a box and 3 seats for each barn, how does that work?

  7. I would venture to guess that between the terrible showing conditions and the awful judging the 2009 New England may see some lower numbers. It is hard to justify a $150 stall that is underwater. When you have to cancel a session to get around weather, you have a problem. I love NE, but it was a very bad year, and I had great stalls. I can’t even imagine if I had the same stalls as last year.

  8. evamorgan says:

    Top on my list would be to get rid of the deep tanbark in the ring!!
    The horses warm up great on the track and then come in and hit that stuff and it is too deep and slippery. I have shown horses of all divisions and none of them do as well as on the track.
    Years ago(I have shown there since mid 60′s) the track would be treacherous when (not if) it rained. Now they have the equipment to seal the track and then condition it so it really is usable way before the ring is. Mark Caisse did a great job again this year, I hope he can catch up on some sleep this week!

  9. evamorgan says:

    I have more…
    We are very fortunate to be stabled on high dry ground but I really felt bad for those that weren’t.My mother says, if everyone over the years brought 2 buckets of dirt with them every year we would not be in a flood plane anymore!
    They improved the electric in our barn about 10 years ago.it used to be you couldn’t run the fans and a vacuum at the same time. They need more outlets, you have to climb up and run everything from the light bulb connection.

  10. evamorgan says:

    On the positive side, the rest rooms were the cleanest they have ever been. And with all the rain and mud that was no easy task!
    I know that the management did a heroic job with the conditons they have to work with.
    I wouldn’t want that job no matter how much you paid me. They were always there trying to make it work. Everyone was doing the very best they could under the circumstances. At least Mother Nature cooperated Friday and Saturday.

  11. bks015 says:

    In case anyone wanted to know, officials are planning to revamp Northampton…
    “Major overhaul planned at Northhampton’s Three-County Fairgrounds”
    You can check the article out here:
    http://news.bostonherald.com/news/regional/general/view/2008_07_24_Major_overhaul_planned_at_Northhampton_s_Three-County_Fairgrounds/srvc=home&position=recent
    If the link doesn’t work, just go to Google and search for Three County Fairgrounds under the News heading… I think this article is the 3rd result. :)

  12. Woodhill says:

    Bu where could you put it.
    I have lived and showed here forever and there is no other big enough facility.
    You can not move New England Morgans show to Virginia or Kentucky as you would lose a huge percent of the competition and those areas already have a Regional.
    Where is the problem.
    My husband is a contractor and that tiny little bit of money that is promised is going to no where near be enough to fix the facility.
    I think just like the 4H regionals Northampton is the only place that has the room to do this show. So like we all have done for the last 50 years pack your plywood and extra bedding, and enjoy the show

  13. hrhirene says:

    Thank goodness for the revamp – the show grounds really need it.

    There are a million better facilities for this show to be held in – I understand the ‘mystique’ of the show grounds but my gosh, what a terrible place to bring 1000+ horses into and 2000+ people and expect that everything go well.

    We were in tent city and ugh. Our tent’s power went out NUMEROUS times during the show, and even though it was usually quickly attended to, it was pretty annoying attempting to apply hoof polish, braid horses, and change in complete blackness. The back of our tent (we were near the front) was flooded up past the knees on more than one occasion and we literally had to sandbag to hold the water back. We thought ahead and did this but there were some barns that did not. Imagine terrified show horses with water swirling around their knees – not a great situation. We helped to bail out (literally) more than one barn on more than one occasion…

    The parking is deplorable as well. If you don’t have a parking pass or you’re not staying in a camper, good luck getting out of the mire that is the parking areas. I personally got stuck one evening, which was not the most fun I’ve had in my life. But there was NOWHERE to park that wasn’t a mud zone.

    I mentioned it in another comment, but the footing is terrible no matter where you go. The indoor ring is soooo hard – MY feet and legs started to hurt after standing on it (in center ring) for much longer than a few minutes. I can only imagine how the horses felt. We had a lot of sore horses last week. The warmup on the track is better footing wise but then you get into the show arena and there’s a lot of slip sliding and uncertain horses putting their feet down. I saw a lot of tripping and sliding last week, and there were a huge number of tossed shoes. I know we had to tone down a lot of our rides and drives due to the footing being iffy. Luckily we didn’t lose any shoes.

    Seating is another concern; our box was almost always hijacked by some random people that didn’t belong with our barn. We had six seats, and they were marked very clearly (think Nationals seat covers) but we often had people sitting in them during the sessions. Not so great when you want to watch the show yourself! We had two golf carts which I believe are NECESSITIES unless you are stabled right next to the show area. The area is just too big to walk around. That said, we had one of them stolen, and god knows where it is now.

    This makes me really thankful for OKC and the great facilities there. I love showing outside at New England, but no thanks to the weather, crappy footing and lack of space.

  14. Bette's Mom says:

    Why not Springfield Mass? It is where they hold Mass Morgan and “The Big E”…. 30-40 minutes south, better, cheaper, and more abundant hotels, exceptional grounds… etc. I heard they were offered to move there and the committee turned it down, not that they actually tried it.

    I took my daughter to the fairgrounds one time to show her where the “big show” was held and I was embarressed! They do a good job sprucing up for NE, but if you ever saw it without all the facades and trimmings you would not think you would EVER bring a horse there.

    As for NY. I don’t think it is a dump. Last year was a huge improvement in cleanliness with a new show manager who knew how to get things done around there. Check it out again some time.

  15. colwilrin says:

    Bette’s Mom,

    I agree with your comments on the Syracuse NY facility. The biggest downfall there is that the warm up area is limited.

    It is never flooded out. The roof of the main barn was very leaky, but that was fixed a year ago. They made improvements to the ring footing. There is plenty of good seating available. The stalls, though older, are inside and dry.

    I would take it over New England’s facilities any day. My husband, a non-horse person, saw NE a few years ago. He said “why in the world are they holding a show this big in such a crappy place?” Then he said, “you guys must be getting a good discount here”…I just laughed my butt off.

    Tradition is a great thing to have. However, the show committee works so hard to keep this show as competative and prestigious as it is. It is very sad to see all their hard work be negated by mother nature, and the County’s neglect of the grounds.

    Imagine what the show would be like if the facilties matched the quality of the efforts given by all those involved in organizing this show.

  16. Em says:

    The thing that really drives me insane when it comes to the NE show grounds is the fact that, though we are always trying to promote the Morgan breed, when someone new comes to see what is usually a great show, the first thing that they see are the horrible grounds. I find it kind of embarrassing.

  17. bella92290 says:

    Wow, I am shocked people feel Syracuse is cleaner. I am on a show committee of a show that has about 500 horses there and WE the show committee do alot of the cleaning and “nagging” to get the cleaning done. And trust me, I know what goes into a show so I do hope the committee of NE is reading some of this and knows we are not trying to downplay all their countless hours of work. I know what we pay the NYS for the use of the grounds and it is an enormous amount of money and some of it should be going to make updates, of which there have not been in a very long time. There has been alot of work done by our show manager and others in the NYS Morgan and Saddlebred worlds to get the “word” out about our needs. And Beezie Madden and the Syracuse Invitational also have been working in the same direction (they currently hold their show downtown at the ON Center). I guess there are some things positive about the Syracuse facilities as opposed to the NE ones. Anyhow we all have our own opinion which is what it is. If we are looking to stay in the Mass area I agree the BIG E is our best bet.

  18. shortiedu says:

    everyone in the infield box seats say they are too low, or rather sinking. This years solution, block off the trainers from walking the rail. Trainers then were hopping the box seat rails, running through peoples box seats and being far more disruptive. I guess somewhere in the rains they found it really more sensible to remove one of the blocks for the trainers as I noticed there was no room on the rail for the trainers to coach while standing in mud. Jack up the box’s and put them up a foot on blocks, they’ve been sinking for years. Better yet, redesign them, make more seating, raise them way up so they can go deeper. But really, if you aren’t going to fix them, at least fix their sinking situation!

    Since there are no more races there, can’t the fairgrounds add into upgrades to replace the footing with limestone and gravel, something non slipping and weather proof!

    Oh and 3 judges. Yeah, they say it’ll add a lot of time to the show and you can’t find a big enough judging pool. Work on it, it’s deperately needed.

    Everything expensive! All I heard, before the show, was how expensive their flooded stalls were, during the show, I heard massive complaints about why they pay $200 for a stall under water. I’m not an exhibitor, but that was a huge complaint I heard.

  19. jyn says:

    wow. We were planning a trip next year. I think we will pass. If the facilities are that bad and you cant get box seats for your customers to sit in . I havent shown there in some years . I do remember we delt with flooding and tent city conditions when we did go. I assumed those things would have been taken care of by now.

  20. jjoker says:

    Beth, don’t quote me but ithink the show went to springfield for a bit. I’ve seen picture of horses showing out doors there and hearing it was the eastern nationals.
    Improve the show they know what the problems are try something anything. wood chips as a base for the tents maybe, take that footing out or don’t make it so deep the track seems to come back quicker, the footing is a little slick even with no rain. I’m no expert these are things i’ve heard over the years and thought myself. you can’t move it, there is no place to house the horses and “the camperand r.v. show”. i think the fairgrounds should over haul the whole place, it would attract other events which means more$$$$$$$$$. oh well just a thought.

  21. GoodLookinGal says:

    at this point, i think the best thing for everyone would be to put our money where our mouths are, and not show up to new england next year. the reason nothing changes is because the money and entries still come in. why? because its NEW ENGLAND and EVERYBODY goes. not this gal, not next year. the horses make the show great, but we pay for the horses, and for good judging of our horses. when my mare is underwater, and we have to work twice as hard to look the part to only have the judge mess it up…. not for me. the show committee there works so very hard to have to end up moving a session in the end anyhow. what a shame. i will hold off and wait to compete at oklahoma, where i can be against the same awesome horses, under thre judges in a great facility. it is worth the shipping bill.

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