Horse Show Scheduling

Well, here I am at Jubilee with a 5 hour break in the middle of the afternoon for the third day in a row. Does that seem unnecessary to anyone else? I’ve only been to 2 shows this summer but in both cases there were looong breaks between sessions. The first show it was a bit understandable as the schedule simply was not filled, there were a lot of scratched classes which made the sessions much shorter. But there have been very few scratched classes here. I really don’t get why they would intentionally set it up this way. What the heck am I supposed to do for 5 hours in Springfield, IL?

The schedule is going something like this. Show doesn’t start til 10am and the session is 3 hours. So we’re done around 1. Things don’t pick up again until 6pm with another 3 hour session. There’s enough time in between those 2 slots to have a third session in the day. If they set it up with 3 sessions in a day, this could easily be a 3 day show. I also can’t help pointing out that if you move the in-hand to an evening before and go into Sunday afternoon (instead of ending Saturday night). This would still allow the folks near-by to get home by Sunday night and have Labor Day off on Monday. Since they’d only have to take Friday off it would make it much easier and less expensive for folks who work, and kids who are now in school to take the time away and make the show. Can anyone give me a reason why this is set up the way it is? I certainly don’t see the benefit of these big long breaks.

14 Responses to Horse Show Scheduling

  1. leslie says:

    I always assumed they did that to avoid the mid-afternoon heat. Alternately, maybe it’s to make sure the grooms and trainers have a little bit of down time, since they’re probably up working horses for hours after the last class at night.

    When I lived in New England and showed the local (not Morgan) circuit, most of the shows would have three sessions a day. I guess that could be because the afternoon heat in that area is less likely to be lethal. Those three-session days meant the show started between 8 and 9, which meant getting up early to feed and groom if you had an early class. I am so not a morning person, so a 10 am start time sounds okay to me!

    On the other hand, having been to Springfield, I do sympathize with your current situation.

  2. RaeOfLight says:

    I don’t see afternoon heat in September in central Illinois to be much of a threat. Besides, everything is indoors or at least covered.

    I’m really wishing right now that I’d only reserved my hotel for 2 nights instead of 3. I’d totally ditch out on the evening session and just go home right now. I don’t think I’d come back to this show the way it’s currently scheduled unless I had a good reason, even though I’m only 2.5 hours away.

  3. IED says:

    While it may seem irritating to YOU…

    There are a lot of large barns that go to this horse show and bring a LOT of horses – like 20-30 – and if you’ve never brought 20-30 horses anywhere, let me tell you that it’s plenty of work. Considering that the trainers/grooms/various staff are usually lucky to get six hours of sleep a night, having that afternoon downtime can be a GODSEND… it gives the staff time for a break, time to have lunch, take a nap, maybe work a few horses, clean tack for the night’s session coming up, braid horses, or just escape the showgrounds for a few hours. Keep in mind that plenty of barns are up at the crack of dawn to work horses and then show into the later evening. People – and horses – get tired if they’re constantly going, going, going. There’s also the fact that if the show were condensed, qualifiers would overrun one another. Considering that most bigger barns prefer to show their horses a maximum of once per day so as to guarantee the most brilliant performance, the number of championships and qualifiers at Jubilee would end up meaning that many horses would have to show more than once a day. Something like that would lessen class entries overall and probably make more than one amateur and trainer irritated. After all, going to a Big Deal Horse Show and showing in 2 classes can be a little bit of a letdown.

    Believe it or not, horse shows are supposed to be fun, and while pounding out session after session might be a little more time-effective for spectators, it would make life a pain in the you-know-what for plenty of people showing and working. Plus, it’s a Big Deal Regional Show. Four days is hardly a stretch for a bigger show. I know plenty of local A shows that run four days.

    The mention of heat is a good one as well… this show is traditionally a week earlier, and it can be quite warm.

  4. Morganmom says:

    Try for something to do. Have you investigated any of the Lincoln Historical sites? There’s enough to take up several or more hours of your time.

    I agree with IED on exhibitors needing more down time in the afternoon.

  5. RaeOfLight says:

    Does anyone know who would have the information for the total number of horses at a given show, and if that information could be broken down by barn? I’d be interested to know how many horses the average exhibitor brings. How many people actually bring 20+ horses? What percentage of the participants are we actually catering to by scheduling this way?

    I also think if we want the breed to grow we need to make it friendly to the smaller barns. And to the spectators. There are at least 2 other events going on at the fairgrounds this weekend. If someone wanders over in the middle of the afternoon, curious about what we’re up to they’re not going to see anything. What a great marketing opportunity we may be missing.

  6. StacyGRS says:

    There is no perfect schedule that pleases everyone, but, I am a fan of the 2 session day. Usually the first session goes until about 2:30 or 3. If you’re in one of the last few classes, you can put your horse away, clean up, feed, leave by 4ish and get a shower and something to eat before you head back. It wouldn’t take 20+ horses to have a late afternoon class and an early evening class. You leave by 4 and you aren’t exactly twiddling your thumbs if you’re in any of the first 3-4 classes that evening. If I’m showing in a session, I’m pretty much always there by the beginning of that session (who knows what could be canceled, etc). If I am the first class at 6, I’m there by 5 at the very latest. So, my big break just became an hour. Anyone there with 8-10 horses or more is going to have this. At 3 session shows I have to get my horses worked either by 8 (if it starts at 9) or after the last class at night. I find my kids aren’t so sharp at night, so, I find myself making them get up pretty early to be there to practice. And the adults…even harder:) Wasn’t the street party there last night? Asking alot of them to be there before 10 is just pointless on Sat am at Jubilee, I’m afraid:) This party has become a beloved tradition and people have FUN at it!
    As for ending it Sun AM, that also has it’s pro’s and cons. Personally, when I’m hooking my good horse for the open park harness championship I find it very annoying to work around semi’s coming and going and people loading up. And talk about anti-climactic… your big stake classes held Sun AM. Not exciting. And I would bet there would be little to no audience. If you don’t show that morning, alot of exhibitors would leave and everyone will have packing and leaving on their minds. Lastly, if the show ends at noon, and it takes 3-4 hours for an average barn to pack, load, and be ready to go, you are sending tired people on their trip home which I find dangerous. We have one show that does this and it’s a pet peeve of mine. Starting a 6-8 hour drive (pretty average, I would guess) with trucks and trailers loaded with horses and people after a days’ work (if they started at 6 am and left at 4pm they’ve worked a 10 hour day already) and a long week of lots of work and little sleep is just asking for bad situations. Our show that does this is only an hour and a half away but the show ends around 3 pm and it takes us 5-6 hours to close out at the office, do the photos, say good bye to the clients, tear down, pack, load, load horses, etc and we head out of that place around 9pm every year with tired drivers and a 100 mile drive. So, as I said, there’s just no way to please everyone:) Personally, we’ve always enjoyed Jubilee. The kids swim at the pool, it’s one of the few shows that we actually eat out with clients and friends more than once before it starts, and it’s about the only show we actually go to the party at instead of going to bed to get precious sleep:)

  7. Oakstar says:

    I haven’t shown at Jubilee in about 10 years but I remember the 2 sessions being an awesome thing! It is one of the few shows where there is plenty of time to go out to lunch with friends, take a nap in the afternoon (essential after the street party!), swim at the hotel, or just relax! Jubilee was always one of my favorite shows!

  8. RaeOfLight says:

    Ok, now that all is said and done, looking back at my afternoon comments, a lot of that was probably coming out of frustration and boredom. Doesn’t mean I don’t still think those things, but they’re mostly personal thoughts of a spectator who doesn’t know a lot of people and is sticking around for the better part of the show. If the sessions did go 1-2 hours longer it would’ve taken away some of my afternoon down time and helped a lot.

    …. um, I know I had more thoughts to tick off, but they’ve left my brain.

    Oh, I was going to comment that there was hardly anybody at the street party this year! I remember it being crowded last year. This year I was hanging out down in one of the lower barns and when I walked out I could see all the way to the end of the street, the crowd was really thin. It was a bit cool out last night, but that’s the only thing I can think of that would explain the apparent lack of interest.

  9. empressive says:

    LOL Well glad things are getting a bit better! ;)

    Boredom is a terrible monster. Sometimes a good afternoon Siesta is helpful too. I think 5 hours is a bit long, but if that break is possible would you like the 5 hour break in the morning or evening? Afternoon makes a bit more sense. Now I have never been to this show, but hey!!! That’s what this site is for!!

    So besides the long break… how is the show going? XD

  10. parksaddle1024 says:

    I do understand that a trainer with a large show string would welcome the long break. However, I would love to show more, but I show without a trainer and I can’t take a week off of work 4-5 times during the summer to go to a horse show, and then to have a 4+ hour break in the middle of each day is frustrating. I think many of the shows would benefit from a Thur-Sun or Fri-Sun schedule and combining some classes that are nearly always light in entries (which would still allow time for a 3+ hour break between sessions), or perhaps the show committee could put more of the open classes at the beginning of the schedule and the amateur classes at the end (a scheduling nightmare I am sure, so maybe impossible) to accomodate both the big trainers and the small farms or individuals. For the smaller farms, it is expensive and inconvenient to be away for an entire week and have to pay for extra help at home and not be able to work the string that isn’t at the show. I realize you can’t please everyone, but it would be great to be able to meet in the middle and may increase numbers at some of the shows.

  11. mikado12 says:

    This is nothing new, though. I remember years ago at Indiana with 4-5 hours to kill between sessions; Michigan also used to have long breaks. If you’re not a trainer–just an exhibitor–it can be pretty boring. I guess it pays to research the cities you’re going to be in, and see what you can find that would be fun to fill your time. Worse to me than long breaks are those odd 2-3 hour breaks when you can’t really do anything more than sit around and wait.

  12. Trisha says:

    As someone who works at shows, I enjoy any break I can get. We normally take anywhere from six to ten horses and our schedule always has at least one session where all of our horses are showing right after eachother in that session. Those long breaks come in handy both before that hectic session and certainly after it. A long break before means we have enough time to go eat and have a little downtime before getting all of our horses ready when each horse can take up to 45minutes to get ready if only one person is working on them. And a long break after means we can go back to the camper/hotel and possibly get a nap in before it’s time to get back.

    Though I can understand how the long breaks could get boring for some people. I’m pretty boring at horseshows, so I’m content to nap between sessions.=)

  13. leslie says:

    “I also think if we want the breed to grow we need to make it friendly to the smaller barns.”

    I whole-heartedly agree with this statement. However, with big shows/regionals like Jubilee it kind of makes sense to cater to the bigger barns to a certain extent. If trainers had to show their GN prospects three times a day at a regional show, they would probably stop bringing their top horses to that regional show. And if their grooms kept quitting in protest after several 20-hour, no-break days, they might rethink attending shows with that kind of schedule.

    Personally, I think the key to attracting and retaining the smaller operations and the DIY amateur-owners is to make sure there are smaller shows that are friendly to them, which probably doesn’t mean creating new Morgan shows, but making sure there are Morgan classes at existing open shows. But that’s a whole other topic.

    As for non-horsey spectators, in my experience, if they show up at all it’ll be for an evening session anyway. But it seems like most shows of any breed or sport are lucky to get outside spectators at all. Again, that’s a whole other topic.

  14. RaeOfLight says:

    Thanks for your comments guys. After sleeping on it I did remember the other comments I was going to make. First of all, as I think someone has mentioned, since Jubilee is a Regional show, I think I have less of a problem with it catering more toward the larger barns (although by doing so is that saying they’re more likely to have the better horses? Maybe so, maybe not, I don’t know).

    Also, I have to admit, last year I had a weanling filly at the show for the Futurity. I took her with a trainer and acted as a groom for my trainer to offset some of the training costs. I honestly don’t remember how long the breaks were last year, I know we were hopping busy all day long. I got there around 7am and didn’t leave until we were done with classes for the day. So, I do understand it can get really busy.

Leave a Reply