Economy and Shows

I posted this awhile ago, but didn’t get any response.  Perhaps now that show season is in mid-swing there might be more to say, so I’m bumping the topic back up.

I spent some time this morning looking over some of the really old posts on this site and couldn’t help but notice the the economy is something that folks have been fretting over since this site has existed.  Now, I don’t have the resources or the reasons to have much presence on the show scene (although I often wish I could).

I’m curious if anyone out there has actually seen a change at the shows over the last few years?  Has it affected your participation?  Have you noticed a change in numbers?  Is there anything that shows seem to be doing differently, either as a result of the economical slump and limited resources, or to encourage greater participation?


18 Responses to Economy and Shows

  1. DVFMorgan says:

    I would have to say in our area of Alberta the shows are pretty strong, numbers were up in the Arabian division and the Morgans held steady at last years numbers. There seems to be a good strong group of young riders coming up, as our Open All Breed Walk Trot classes have 9 or 10 riders in them, which is fantastic. The majority being Morgans. I am also seeing the dynamics of which division people are riding change also. Our Morgan open English pl had 9 horses in it at the first show of the year. The hunter and western divisions were a little light, but that may change as the show season goes on.


  2. nco4242 says:

    In California show numbers have been going down and shows falling by the wayside. Classic Royal, Nor-Cal and now Watsonville (Santa Cruz) Show are not held this year. Numbers have been down at Mother Lode the past few years but they are still going strong and right now are the only show in Northern California. It appears folks are hitting one show, getting qualified and either hitting the regional show or heading right to OK City for nationals.

  3. StacyGRS says:

    California shows are indeed light. The economy has certainly taken it’s toll as many don’t want to travel, are doing fewer shows, or taking the year off. While the “just show once and get qualified” mentality has hurt our world for some time now, it has really gotten to an all time high with people only concerning themselves with qualifying and doing so as close to home as possible. Our best shows seem to be the ones that are combined with other breeds. While Morgan Classic Royale has not happened for the last couple of years, the timing is such that the UPHA Chapter 1 show works into that spot in the schedule and is a great show. It’s old school hospitality. Charming, fun, competitive and is a favorite for every client we’ve taken there. I think shows that want to survive are going to have to stop adding a separate class for every person that requests it and start making sure that the classes are filled and there is fun being had by exhibitors and spectators alike. All good things in my opinion:) But the light participation at the shows is very concerning.

  4. RaeOfLight says:

    I’m not sure that’s specific to California. As I was posting results for Indianapolis Charity, the largest class was a 4 horse championship. The were a few 2 and 3 horse classes, but there were 19 (out of 26) 1 horse classes for the Morgan division. I didn’t pay much attention to the other breed classes. But I did go back and peek at the results going back over the last few years and the further back I went the more horses there seemed to be.

  5. smccullo says:

    Our big show in Arizona, Carousel, has had a steady increase in morgans for the last two years. This, I believe, was due to lots of phone calls, emails and talking up the show at Jingle Bells (Dec Ca show) and getting participants jazzed to come to a great show at a beautiful time of year in Scottsdale. I hope the trend continues. We also got ourselves Region VII approved for year end points which we never were before.

    To improve numbers, particularly in this economy, I have heard discussions about multi-horse discounts which I think is an excellent idea. I also like the idea of larger prize money especially if we have fewer championships, to attract more people.


  6. Flmorgan says:

    In Florida numbers are very light. There are few new people getting into the sport and few that have the money to spend on high dollar horses. We have a few new sales and clients but your established clients are being snatched out from under your nose as fast as the new ones come in. Not much growth and everyone trying to get the same dollar. I am seriously thinking of going into horse leasing and Performance horses as that seems to be where the money is. People seem to want a division that is less subjective.{ Hear that judges} As one post stated we must stick to the AMHA rules and start judging to those standards or we will lose the many exhibitors we have. It is not about high dollar horses these days. It is about participation and getting new people to our sport and treating them fairly and honestly. I think if they were judged fairly they would continue showing and buying new horses. These are the complaints I hear and the reasons for not participating in shows. AMHA needs to look at this and make sure the rules are enforced and judges informed. We do very well at our shows so this is not sour grapes. Just a observation. People will spend money on whatever is important to them. We are losing exhibitors because we are not welcoming them in. We want the high dollar trainer and horse to win. We must have classes for the new exhibitors.

  7. Gomers Girl says:

    I agree with Flmorgan – my horse is 20 years old, and is in better shape then ever before. But, it is unfair of me to take him to a show like NE and expect him to place against the horses that cost 2x more then him. Plus, I couldn’t afford $75 classes and $175 championships (college is killing me!). It is sad that those are the two major factors to my decision making of what shows I do this season. So basically, to save money and go back to the original reason of showing, “to have fun,” I am going to local shows around my county. I don’t get many ribbons since I am being judged against quarter horses with a quarter horse judge, but it is fun to represent the breed and show everyone something totally different.

  8. Vintage_Rider says:

    Thanks Gomers Girl for representing the breed. I too have participated in local fairs against stock horses and had a blast, and to have people totally ignorant of the breed “ooh, and ahhh” about our wonderful “uphill” horses, was a delight.

  9. RaeOfLight says:

    The cost of a show horse has me boggled to this day. I understand that there’s a lot of expense that goes in to getting them finished. But everyone knows owning horses isn’t a way to turn a profit. I paid $13K for my first car and almost 100K miles later it’s still going strong for me. I don’t think I could justify paying more for an unreliable horse than I did for my reliable vehicle. Have the prices for show horses really gone down the last few years? Can people really expect to get these prices ($15K+) for these horses? Or, is it time for some folks to write off some of their loss as part of the cost for their hobby?

    When you add to that initial cost show attire, tack, training, shoeing, entry fees, hauling, stall fees, etc. It just skyrockets. I don’t know how people do it…

  10. Vintage_Rider says:

    Prices are all over the board. Former WC / GN champions going for $7000-8000 (of course, I don’t know if they have developed issues) and PROSPECTS – no shows, going for $25-40k.

    I’m sure there is a lot of psychological reasons for this, but it is beyond me.

  11. somedaysue says:

    Forget PROSPECTS with no show record going for $25 – 40 K. What about EMBRYOS!!! Talk about gambling on the future!

  12. StacyGRS says:

    All breeding is a gamble, but your odds can vary greatly. A proven dam that has produced well, herself was a World Champion show horse, and is well bred can greatly increase the value of a baby from day 1. There are an elite few that are THAT great, but they are out there and if they increase your odds by 25% or better, then they’ll be worthwhile.

  13. parksaddle1024 says:

    I agree with many of the postings above – last season I sat down and took a look at what I was spending on training bills and show bills and simply could no longer justify the expense not just given the economy, but also given the “politics” for lack of a better word (Flmorgan was spot on in what the post regarding the judging!). I am fortunate to have two wonderful horses that I can work at home and will still be competitive in the show ring. What my challange is now, however, is getting a week off from work 6 times a year to show at a morgan show (not to mention my kids are still in school this time of year!). I think show organizers need to take this in to consideration and consider a 3-day Fri-Sun rather than a 5 day show that starts on Tuesday. I think this would be a benefit for both the exhibitors and the trainers. There are so many classes with less than 6 horses in them that show committees can easily create a prize list that still has something for everyone but eliminates under-utilized classes. I am looking at the results of CT Morgan (and desparately wishing I was there!) and seeing even the hunter and western classes that had 15 horses two years ago now have less than 6! On the other side of the coin, the industry must go back to judging based on the standards! It is so frustrating to see a hunter trotting with enough motion to be a pleasure horse winning classes; seeing a western horse going around the ring with it’s mouth wide open and ears pinned ready to explode at the top of the cards, a classic horse that didn’t walk a step taking a victory pass. I can’t remember if it’s the Morgan Connection or Morgan Horse, but there is a great interview with Harry Sebring (King of Morgan standards!!) and he says it best!

  14. RaeOfLight says:

    Um, I think it was TMH. And the article was a reprinting of the letter to the judges we discussed earlier.

    We seem to have some recurring themes here. How many times can we talk about something before we’re just beating a dead horse? I’m not saying these comments are bad, and they’re rarely coming from the same person more than once. But my friends know to never come to me crying about the same thing more than once. I have a “do something to change it or quit crying” attitude.

    As far as judges go, I have added a category for judge evaluations. I’m not just looking for the bad, I’m really looking for the good. Show committees need to know who the exhibitors LIKE. Even if you’re comments are not so good, I’m sure a fair number of judges would like to know how they could improve. That’s a start to getting the judging turned around.

    As far as shrinking the size of a show, for now I would say this is a lingering symptom of the culture of over-indulgence we’ve had in this country up until the last few years. People had the money to spend, shows could be longer and fill more classes. Now that those classes are shrinking perhaps some shows will start looking for ways to trim back and make more money. In the meantime, if you have good ideas for how a show could be better run, join the committee for that show. Or, if you can’t make that commitment, write a letter to the show committee.

  15. DVFMorgan says:

    Looking through the Gold Cup results, it looks like that part of the country is doing very well and huge 11 and under walk/trot classes, that is awesome.


  16. RaeOfLight says:

    Yes, and where I was grabbing the Gold Cup results from had a display option to “show non-placing entries”. About halfway through I realized I had not selected that option but rather than going back through all the classes I’d grabbed already I left it alone. So many the larger classes may have had more entries.

  17. StacyGRS says:

    If I understand correctly, Charity Fair just had the biggest class of the year…there were 19 in the Saddle Seat Equitation Championship! 16 in the Challenge Cup…made for fun classes.

  18. morgansrule says:

    I think one major thing that is overlooked in the morgan world of showing is the participation of the owners. There’s a significant number of AOT and folks out there doing it themselves, but, they often don’t win. Now, I am not blaming this on judging, mind you. I have heard a lot of griping about politics from people that just didn’t turn out a horse as well as someone else. There is a HUGE difference between a trainer who does nothing but work horses and has tons of equipment for every scenario vs someone who works their horse a the local boarding facility after work. When an amatuer with a horse at the trainers wins a class, it has very little to do with the rider. That horse has been prepped by someone else.

    I remember a day, years ago, the stable I worked for was at the NE show. Our barn had several youths with geldings, and we were asked if we would present them for the youths to judge in the judging part of the youth contest. Let me tell you this, the amount of prepping, practicing, talking about strategy, fretting, grooming, tack cleaning and ado that went on astounds me to this day. You would have thought these PARENTS who were leading the “mature”, low backed, been-there, done-that geldings in the “class” were going down the chute at OKC. Everyone agreed it was the most fun they ever had showing, even the kids loved it! Some of these kids went on to win at OKC, but that day was the best ever. THEY got to do it themselves. I think that is a big part of what is missing in the morgans.

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