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  1. #1
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    Exclamation Red Hills Horse Trials Cancelled Due To Economic Uncertainties

    From www.useventing.com :

    Red Hills Horse Trials Cancelled Due To Economic Uncertainties

    Updated: 2009-02-04


    The Red Hills Horse Trials scheduled for March 13-15 has been cancelled. The organizing committee of Jane Barron, Terrie Brooks and Marvin Mayer reluctantly made the decision today due to a lack of entries. Red Hills Horse Trials has been one of the USA’s premier events for many years and a favorite of riders and spectators alike. Its cancellation will leave a large gap in the early spring schedule.

    “It is with extreme sadness that we must cancel the 2009 trials,” said Jane Barron. “Fundraising has been difficult in the current economic environment…and we cannot reasonably anticipate the economic viability of the event in 2009. We have currently shifted our efforts toward 2010 and the successful kickoff of the Continental Cup Series.”

    “The sport of Eventing is not immune to the problems caused by the sharp downturn in the national economy,” said Kevin Baumgardner, President of the USEA. “We remain confident that the sport will weather this downturn and indeed emerge stronger than ever. We are nonetheless extremely concerned that a competition as popular and important as Red Hills has been so dramatically effected.”

    Added the Association’s CEO, Jo Whitehouse, “The USEA is closely monitoring the economic situation in the country and its impact on the sport. As part of this process, we have been analyzing trends in all areas of the sport on virtually a daily basis. As the situation warrants, we are committed to alerting our organizers, the ten USEA Areas, and individual members through all the communications tools at our disposal, including our website and email blasts.”

    At this time, we believe it is critical that all members of the USEA understand that the economic viability of competitions is put at risk if competitors react to economic uncertainty by withholding entries until the closing date. Organizers must commit themselves to stabling, officials, housing, rental cars, staffing—a myriad of personnel and infrastructure details—well in advance of the closing date, and when early entries drop precipitately off of prior years’ levels they have no way of predicting how many horses and riders will actually show up.

    As Jim Cogdell, owner The Fork Stables and organizer of The Fork Horse Trials said today, “We are very sad for our friends at Red Hills but we understand why they made the decision to cancel. It is a possibility that The Fork will have to consider also. We hope to get a strong entry on opening date so that we can meet the expenses that are incurred by putting on an event. I know this is a concern of every organizer in the country right now. If we do not get the required number of entries we will have no alternative but to cancel this year.”

    It is not just high-profile events such as Red Hills or The Fork that are feeling the effects of this recession but every event, regardless of location or levels of competition offered. Every owner, rider, official, groom, volunteer and organization within the sport has a stake in ensuring that the sport continues to be strong and vibrant throughout the country.

    We at the USEA well understand that riders, owners and parents may have good reason in these tough times to delay sending in entries to a particular competition until they are absolutely certain that the horse/rider combination in question are able to participate in that event. In some cases withholding entries until the last minute may be unavoidable due to financial realities. Nonetheless, we are asking all riders and owners who plan on entering a competition to consider what the impact of delaying sending in that entry might be. Please, if you are able, get your entry in early. Likewise, please contact the organizers of events you have attended in the past, let them know what your plans are for 2009, and—most important of all—volunteer to help them in any way you can as we work together to keep our sport strong in 2009. Now is the time to pull together!
    "Fifteen minutes of excellent work is better than an hour and a half of wandering aimlessly around." -Col. Bengt Ljundquist



  2. #2
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    Default WOW!

    This is too sad. I love to be a spectator at Red Hills and hope they can return next year.
    Piney Woods



  3. #3
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    Default

    Wow. Red Hills has distinguished itself (positively) by the incredible sponsorships, and therefore prizes, they've been able to offer in the past. What a bummer for them. (But at the same time ... maybe I'm a little bit relieved, irrationaly though it might be, that this particular competition that has so many bad memories attached won't be adding to its list of tragedies this year.)

    As one of only two spring CIC***s in the region - the other being The Fork - hopefully Red Hills canceling at least means The Fork's entries will be stronger because everyone who needs a spring CIC*** will have to enter there instead.
    I evented just for the Halibut.



  4. #4
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    Default From another Thread

    According to the USEA website, the Red Hills Horse Trials set for March has been cancelled because of "economic uncertainty":

    http://www.useventing.com/competitions.php?id=1805

    Basically, their entries were so low on their opening date (January 27th) that they didn't feel confident commiting to the huge expenses required to run the show, including the FEI events. Once committed, most of these expenses occur whether or not the show goes forward and the organizer is left holding the bag if entries do not cover the expenses. As someone who hold Organizers in the highest regard, I can hardly blame them for not taking the risk.

    One suggestions for Organizers might consider is to run all levels that they can, particularly the lower levels that cost the least to run and often times, brings in a good amount of revenue. Some shows don't include the lower levels, because they have historically been full or over subscribed at the higher levels. This seems particularly prevalent at shows running two and three star events. Red Hills was only offering Prelim and above, including a three star.

    I wonder if their circumstances would be different had they offered the lower levels as well? Some Organizers may want to look at adding lower levels to some of the 2009 shows, particularly those facilities that already have lower level course in place.

    Thoughts?



  5. #5
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    Default

    Oh, gosh, what heavy hearts those organizers must have-- they work so hard on that event.



  6. #6
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    Default

    While I think it's really a tragedy to lose a marquee event like this, I have to say I'm a little disturbed by the USEA press release and how it makes no mention of the carnage on XC at Red Hills last year.

    Other events in FL are filling. But riders seem to have taken RH off their calendars for this year. I suspect that's not just economics.

    There's a cheery note from CMP on the RH site saying this year's courses will start off more 'open galloping' and 'confidence-building' before proceeding to the technical questions. No word as to the fate of the cheese wedge. But really, after last year, would it be surprising to have riders not wanting to come back?

    The USEA press release is just that, a press release. They don't have to make mention of last year's tragedies. But it makes me uncomfortable because I wonder if it's not yet another example of the head-in-the-sand approach to real issues in our sport.

    (Condolences to all involved in Red Hills and hopefully, all will be well again in 2010.)



  7. #7
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    Default

    I understand your concern about the incidents at Red Hill, Jer, and I think all of us thought of them when this announcement came out. We are all concerned about stemming the tide of accidents and want open discussion about safety.

    However, I don't think it would have been appropriate to mention them in this USEA press release. They are announcing the cancellation of an event from lack of entries. While it is possible that some entries have been affected by previous year accidents, it is more likely a result of the economic downturn. I think it would have been strange and inappropriate to mention last year's accidents in this regard.



  8. #8
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    Default

    This is easily the scariest thing I've heard about the economy so far.



  9. #9
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    Default

    One suggestions for Organizers might consider is to run all levels that they can, particularly the lower levels that cost the least to run and often times, brings in a good amount of revenue. Some shows don't include the lower levels, because they have historically been full or over subscribed at the higher levels. This seems particularly prevalent at shows running two and three star events. Red Hills was only offering Prelim and above, including a three star.

    I wonder if their circumstances would be different had they offered the lower levels as well? Some Organizers may want to look at adding lower levels to some of the 2009 shows, particularly those facilities that already have lower level course in place.

    Thoughts?
    In an Area like III which has a large number of events on the calendar each year, it is not always possible for organizers to add all levels to their event. Any time an organizer adds a new level, it not only affects the entries of other events running on the same weekend, but also events on the weekends before and after. If Red Hills added the lower levels, it would potentially impact the entries of seven other events running before, during, and after their weekend.

    Area II has this same challenge and the Area Council along with the organizers put in a lot of time and effort balancing when events run along with what levels are offered to minimize their impact on each other.
    The USEA press release is just that, a press release. They don't have to make mention of last year's tragedies. But it makes me uncomfortable because I wonder if it's not yet another example of the head-in-the-sand approach to real issues in our sport.
    Given that there are other events that have suffered a dramatic drop in entry levels this spring including Poplar Place and Pine Top, both of which are normally well regarded and attended, the real issue in our sport right now is the economy. The USEA is well aware of the fiscal challenges we all are facing and has been for some time. As Jo said in the press release, the organization is closely monitoring the situation and working with the organizers to find ways to lessen its detrimental impact. There are no heads-in-the-sand here, JER.

    Personally, I think it would have been in very bad taste and quite inappropriate to mention the events of last year in the press release. Kicking an event while it's down would be a pretty low blow and very unkind.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    If the Number 2 pencil is so popular, why is it still number 2?



  10. #10
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    Default

    Given that there are other events that have suffered a dramatic drop in entry levels this spring including Poplar Place and Pine Top, both of which are normally well regarded and attended, the real issue in our sport right now is the economy. The USEA is well aware of the fiscal challenges we all are facing and has been for some time. As Jo said in the press release, the organization is closely monitoring the situation and working with the organizers to find ways to lessen its detrimental impact. There are no heads-in-the-sand here, JER.

    Personally, I think it would have been in very bad taste and quite inappropriate to mention the events of last year in the press release. Kicking an event while it's down would be a pretty low blow and very unkind.
    (italics by me, RFI)

    That's certainly true at Run For It Farm - we don't have extras this year, as the economy falling into its never ending pit, took a big chunk of DH's retirement $$$$$ along with it...

    Bad taste is just that...thanks, Canterlope for the reminder. I personally have someone that I care about a great deal who is involved with Red Hills - I KNOW she's devastated by this turn of events.
    ~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan



  11. #11
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    Sad...but here's what I think. I confess I don't send my entries in until later in the entry period. I have a job that is a bit unpredictable and sometimes I can't school the horses enough to get them ready. So sometimes I'm ready and know I will be, and other times not so sure, hence, my entries are not exactly there on opening day all the time, and I bet I'm not alone with that, there's probably a lot of folks not entering until as late as they can.
    Opening day is what, 6 weeks in advance. They always state that you can scratch BEFORE closing but usually there is a penalty, an office fee or something.
    Well, why not waive the office fee - and return/destroy my check promptly - I would enter at OPENING if it didn't cost me anything to scratch two weeks out as long as I did so before their deadline, I mean, I'll play if I can.

    Red Hills there is no excuses, because that's primarily people who are based and work in the sport and ride horses every day for pay, and they have all the time in the world to work a horse and get it ready, relatively speaking. (As opposed to someone working a desk job full time in New England, without an indoor arena). The fact that they haven't got a clue if they can run an advanced horse six weeks before an event doesn't mean the sport's in the tank, just means, once again, at the upper levels, the pros are disorganized and whiney little babies who need their hands held. (Just kidding, trying to insert some brevity! Or maybe we don't have enough advanced horses in this country to field a whole division that early in the season this year, which is probably more the case. The reasons for that I don't know. Cycling the advanced horses for 2010 perhaps? And what about the Fork? If they maintain the slow entry trend for that event then the early reason won't fly and it has to be something else. (Isn't the Fork two weeks later than Red Hills? Sorry I haven't got the Omnibus memorized.) Is this a portend for Rolex, then? Since those two events are often used as preps? That's an ominous thought.
    "Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring." -- Emerson
    www.eventhorse.wordpress.com



  12. #12
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    It is very sad that they had to cancel this year. I'm assuming they only ran the upper levels?

    It is really too bad that they had to cancel, but I have to wonder if riders are steering clear of the venue after last year's accidents on XC. Also, in an event that sounds like it runs a lot on sponsorships and what not, I'd say the sponsorships likely aren't as strong....which means the venue couldn't offer as much in the way of prizes.

    Too bad. It's always a sad day that we lose another event....for whatever reason.
    Sarah in New Hampshire
    My Blog - Adventures in Eventing



  13. #13
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    When they say sponsorships are down, they probably mean cash, not necessarily prizes. Takes a lot of money to run a big event like that. Likely they lost enough sponsor money to have to rely more heavily on entry income and when that looked thin, they had to pull the plug.
    "Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring." -- Emerson
    www.eventhorse.wordpress.com



  14. #14
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    Default

    i have to admit that I avioded entering Red Hills this year. Chose Poplar and Fair Hill **s instead.



  15. #15
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by retreadeventer View Post
    Opening day is what, 6 weeks in advance. They always state that you can scratch BEFORE closing but usually there is a penalty, an office fee or something.
    Well, why not waive the office fee - and return/destroy my check promptly - I would enter at OPENING if it didn't cost me anything to scratch two weeks out as long as I did so before their deadline, I mean, I'll play if I can.
    Exactly.

    My initial reaction to the press release was that it felt like the blame was put on the riders being slow to mail in money.

    There are a myriad of reasons why someone may not send their money in on opening day vs. later.

    When things are flush financially the show staff had the advantage. With things tightening up, it's a buyer's market and those that are selling their event need to change with the times or they perish.



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by retreadeventer View Post
    Sad...but here's what I think. I confess I don't send my entries in until later in the entry period. I have a job that is a bit unpredictable and sometimes I can't school the horses enough to get them ready. So sometimes I'm ready and know I will be, and other times not so sure, hence, my entries are not exactly there on opening day all the time, and I bet I'm not alone with that, there's probably a lot of folks not entering until as late as they can.
    Opening day is what, 6 weeks in advance. They always state that you can scratch BEFORE closing but usually there is a penalty, an office fee or something.
    Well, why not waive the office fee - and return/destroy my check promptly - I would enter at OPENING if it didn't cost me anything to scratch two weeks out as long as I did so before their deadline, I mean, I'll play if I can.
    It is all a gamble.

    If you enter early, you are gambling that you won't need to scratch. You are also gambling that the event will NOT be cancelled (losing your entry fee).

    If you enter late. you have, traditionally, been gambling that there will still be openings. Recently, that hasn't been much of a gamble. But this year, if you enter late, you are gambling that there will be enough early entries that the event will not be cancelled. But if you enter late and the event is cancelled before you entere, you are out a competition, but you have not lost your money.

    Does anyone know what they are doing with the entries they DO have? The omnibus says "competition cancellation - no refund". But if they stick to that, it will be a further incentive for people NOT to enter early.
    Janet

    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).



  17. #17
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    As much as I respect and appreciate organizers, I don't think mentioning the incidents at Red Hills is inappropriate or in poor taste. Nor, done right, hurtful. It can be done in a positive and educational manner that may help Red Hills in the long run. I don't believe ignoring the relevant facts of the matter are helpful.

    Many people do associate Red Hills with the devastating outcomes of last year. How hard would it have been to add that Red Hills had worked hard to make safer XC courses and so were especially disappointed? That would have addressed the elephant in the room in a positive manner and set them up for a better year next year.

    Of course the economy is a big reason, but it isn't likely the only reason. Like most people, decisions are made on a preponderance of the evidence. When you have to chose between events when you used to go to both, why would you not chose the one you think is safer? Or the one you feel less likely to be eliminated from (or have to pull up in)?

    This is the new economic reality. Ignoring issues isn't helpful. And, as has been said elsewhere, it doesn't matter what the USEA, USEF and organizers think. It matters what the people paying the entry fees, providing the sponsorships, and press coverage think.

    SCFarm
    The above post is an opinion, just an opinion. If it were a real live fact it would include supporting links to websites full of people who already agreed with me.

    www.southern-cross-farm.com



  18. #18
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    Default

    Wow. That is NOT good.

    My brain keeps screaming at me: "Hunker down, hunker down. Figure out how to survive the long haul."

    The news in H-J land is similar: HITS Ocala, one person said, is a "ghost town." Haven't been there myself, but I just sat down the other day with one trainer about plotting a course which, with THIS news now, I think we should rethink--and another H-J BNT called me sounding a mite anxious to rope in someone I recommended him to as a HITS client needing a trainer.

    Meanwhile...

    However, I don't think it would have been appropriate to mention them in this USEA press release. They are announcing the cancellation of an event from lack of entries. While it is possible that some entries have been affected by previous year accidents, it is more likely a result of the economic downturn. I think it would have been strange and inappropriate to mention last year's accidents in this regard.
    If a student of mine included sheer speculation in a press release assignment, I'd fail it. Sorry, JER, but a press release is not the place to bring up such things. My only critique of the release is that nothing positive jumps out at you and someone still doesn't seem to see the value in using bulleted lists instead of masses of text.
    Sportponies Unlimited
    Athletic Thoroughbred crosses for the highly motivated, smaller rider.



  19. #19
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    It is not just high-profile events such as Red Hills or The Fork that are feeling the effects of this recession but every event, regardless of location or levels of competition offered. Every owner, rider, official, groom, volunteer and organization within the sport has a stake in ensuring that the sport continues to be strong and vibrant throughout the country.
    Wow, moments after posting this, I got an email from a lurker who says he planned to ship in to HITS and do jumpers instead of doing RH with a horse that wouldn't have been competitive anyway.

    Interesting choice, wouldn't you say? That's basically deciding to school stadium and maybe earn back a little of your entry fees rather than school xc and pound your horse more ("pound" was his word, not mine).
    Sportponies Unlimited
    Athletic Thoroughbred crosses for the highly motivated, smaller rider.



  20. #20
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    So everyone that entered lost their entry fees? Like retreadeventer, I don't think I have ever sent in an entry before opening date - I am usually later, just to be sure I can make it. I was thinking I should send them in earlier, but not if I am going to lose my entry fee!

    I do think the incidents at Red Hills had an effect on people's decisions. When you don't have as much money as last year, you have to plan more - are you going to go somewhere where the course is apparently very difficult and you may have to scratch, or are you going to wait or travel a bit farther to another course? It may be more worth your while to spend the gas money to enter a show that you have a better chance of finishing and getting that qualification you need.



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