Monday, July 20, 2015

Show Season: Being the mother of a young eventer out competing.

As in most equestrian sports, young eventers start with schooling shows. When Elizabeth first arrived at Course Brook, she wasn't ready to go out and do much. Events, also knows as horse trials, include 3 phases: dressage, show jumping and cross country. Before going cross country, a new eventer will participate in two phase shows: dressage and show jumping.  Elizabeth did a couple of those then moved on to some schooling HT, all at the pre-elementary level (cross rails, tiny logs) in the first year and mostly elementary the second year (2'3").

Through the winter Elizabeth and I wondered what the show season would hold.  Quizz recovered but between all the uncertainty about her situation and the fact that Elizabeth had yet to finish a recognized Beginner Novice (2'7"), we weren't sure what our path would be.

At first, we thought Elizabeth should spend one more season at schooling shows doing Beginner Novice so I made a long list of shows and started putting together a calendar. The great thing about schooling shows is that they tend to be close by and cost less. This year there is an Area I Schooling Horse Trials Championship so there was even the opportunity for qualifying for something and having some real fun at these shows.

It's not always easy to know where the schooling shows are nor if they are well run. The USEA Area I website does list a good number of shows. In addition, I just started thinking of every eventing barn I've ever seen at a show and googling them. Quite a few ran shows. Friends mentioned a few good ones to me; many of them run their own show series with year end awards.

As the season approached, our trainer told us Quizz and Elizabeth were ready to go to recognized, USEA Sanctioned HT.  Elizabeth had tried one last year on Pumba but was eliminated in Show Jumping. I felt a little nervous, a little out of my depth, but decided to go for it and came up with a new schedule of shows to attend. Our trainer is out competing her own young thoroughbred so we worked together to plan a schedule that we could all manage.

The plan was for Elizabeth and Quizz to do 4 Beginner Novice shows and then, if all went well, move up to Novice. Well, we are going to do 3 before the move up because Quizz is just so awesome it's a little silly and unfair to keep her down at Beginner Novice now that Elizabeth has gained some confidence. We were lucky that a horse competing at Preliminary last year was able to adjust to doing Beginner Novice.  She's such a cool horse! 

The shows are listed in the USEA Omnibus by Area. We live in Area I and some shows in Area II are close by enough to consider attending. We decided to do half the shows close to home and half the shows farther away. When the shows are a bit farther away, the cost goes up. For King Oak we can drive to the show on the day of competition, work out of our trailer, and head home at the end of competition. For GMHA, Fitch's Corner, UNH and Huntington, we need hotel rooms, stabling for the horses and meals on the road. GMHA and Fitch's are two day events which means 3 days away from home and two nights in a hotel.

The cost for a recognized HT varies but entry fees are usually just under $200.00. Stabling also varies but if it is on site it usually costs $125 - $200 depending on the duration of the show, type of stabling, etc. Many of these places are very remote so accommodations are not always straight forward and the first time you go to one of these places it's pretty tough to figure out where to stay. Our least expensive outing would be a day show like King Oak where we pay an entry fee and coaching fee and that's it. At the high end of the range for us is Fitch's Corner where we spent $210 for the entry fee, $195 for stabling for two nights, $400 for our hotel and quite a bit on gas since it was far from home and the commute to our hotel was pretty long. With food and coaching, we are in for about $1,000 for the weekend. Generally competitors cover the travel expenses of their trainer so if they need a hotel room, that should be factored in. If you don't have your own trailer, transportation is an additional cost.

When you travel to a show where you will be staying over night, you need to bring quite a bit of extra gear. You usually need 2-3 bags of shavings. Two bags will fill the stall but you need extra to keep it full after cleaning it. We bring a bale of hay per day and pack all our grain and supplements in ziplock bags so that one bag is one meal, marked with a sharpie with the horse's name and whether it is AM or PM feed. You will need grain buckets, water buckets, sheets depending on weather, a travel trunk (those black Stanley trunks with wheels from Home Depot are awesome and reasonably priced) and all the usual items you need to take care of you horse and go to a show.

Stay tuned for my next post in which I'll give you the unfiltered truth of being a mom AT the show. 

1 comment:

  1. love this post and your blog in general. All your posts are very informative and interesting.