A bit of a spin off from the check wrighting thread. This is a question that I pondered after Judging a local schooling show a few weeks ago.
Who is the real customer at a Horse Show, trainers or the paying customer?
Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from behind, or a fool from any direction
I voted paying customer BUT the trainer is functioning as the acting agent for mulitple paying customers and, in a perfect world, acting on their behalf and in their best interest so it's real hard to draw a line there.
Both are paying customers. One a single and one representing a group of paying customers.
When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.
If you are asking who is the horse show management's customer - defined as the one they cater to? I'd vote trainers, particularly at the rated level where it is much less common to have riders showing up on their own.
Generally in those situations it is also the trainer deciding where they will take the customers (ie, which show they will patronize) so there is a lot of attention paid to those with bigger barns (better stall locations, latitude from in gate personnel, etc) that is not necessarily afforded to the no-name trainer or lone exhibitor whose money, is, after all, the same color.
I voted paying customer. In some form or fashion, every rider there is a paying customer. The show must cater to the rider, not necessarily the trainer. Many riders show without trainers. BUT, on another note, if the trainer doesnt like the show, then they wont bring their clients.
IME it's the trainer. I've ridden with several very big name trainers and I've also done it on my own. My experiences in the show office were drastically different when associated with a BNT when compared to being on my own.
It's not that they were rude it's just that they aren't nearly as willing to try and help you when you're on your own. At this point I've been showing long enough that I know most of the office workers at any given show and don't have an issue when on my own but it wasn't that way when I started out.
In the long run, it's the trainer who will be supporting the same show (or not) in 5, 10, 20 years, long after the individual riders from this year have aged out, lost interest, taken up tennis, whatever.
The show needs the trainer to keep coming back with their string year after year, whoever comprises that string.
I think the trainers are the ones treated as customers at most big shows. But I think the person ultimately writing the checks is the real customer. Of course that means that most trainers are also customers (though a few may be acting solely as agents).
That could be my slightly jaded view after attending shows independent of any trainers for the last several years, though!