Unrecognized Events vs Recognized Events - what makes you choose one over another?
I just returned from my first event. All in all it was an excellent experience. Dressage could have been better, but it was her first test, so I'm still pleased with it. XC was great and SJ was outstanding. I come from a Jumper background so it was nice to end on a comfortable and familiar note.
I'm taking a peek at the calendar for the next few months and trying to decide what event to tackle next. In addition to the standard Jumper and Dressage shows I have a couple of Event options in May - Woodside and Eventful Acres.
Both events are using the same Dressage test and I would have trainer assistance at both. The cost looks to be roughly the same after all of the extra costs (hotel/hauling/etc) are totaled in.
The question I have for you guys is what makes you choose a recognized event over an unrecognized event at the BN level?
I prefer recognized because of safety standards (course design/inspection, ambulance requirements), professionalism from the organizer and competition. There are some very good unrecognized HTs out there, but there also are some really bad ones, too. Anyone can hold an unrecognized HT and often enough, anyone does. There is a good bit less variability with the recognized HTs in my Area. A recognized HT in most cases will be a better experience for the horse and rider.
I pick based on "is the extra money worth it". Ie, if my horse and I have ALOT of things to work on and I want to see how I am doing I will pick a (much cheaper) schooling show. I want to know I have "things" worked out before I drop $300+ for a show!!
As for the "safety" issue, I find most schooling shows are safe and well managed. If they aren't they tend to fall by the wayside due to this problem.
I agree with the above post regarding good vs. bad recognized events. So, make sure you vet out the unrecognized events first to make sure they are run well. Assuming you are comparing a well run unrec event and a rec event, there are a few things to consider.
1) anything you do at a recognized event will be on the horse and riders permanent record. So if you are not quite up to par in on of the phases, and want to be able to get exposure without the results on your record, then go with unrecognized until you are confident. Alternatively, if you are selling the horse and want it to have a permanent searchable record, you need to compete recognized. If you plan to sell the horse down the road this may be important, if you don't then it may not be.
2) unrecognized are usually quite a bit cheaper (at least in my area), about half the cost. If cost is a factor go unrecognized.
3) if you want to compete for Area year end awards go recognized
4) unrecognized events are usually more laid back all around. For example, if you have a rider fall in the stadium phase, they may let you continue on and still ride XC. Recognized events will not let you do that. Mistakes are more forgiven at unrec events. Eg., crossing the start line in stadium before you begin your course. That would be elimination in a rec event, but some recognized events will use it as a learning experience and let you know your mistake but let you continue on with your ride.
5) the courses are usually a bit easier for unrecognized events, so if you have a greeny they might be more friendly
Overall, I'm a fan of using unrecognized events for exposure and experience. I did a year of unrecognized before I moved my horse up to recognized stuff. We got the kinks out at the cheaper and more laid back events, and then had a really positive experience when we started the recognized stuff.
I prefer recognized because of safety standards (course design/inspection, ambulance requirements), professionalism from the organizer and competition.
I agree with this. The D&M policy is worth mentioning - I like a level playing field. The purpose of the show is another deciding factor - milage for a greenie? Moving a horse up the ranks - course ease & difficulty? Want to do along format? Compete at the biggest show in your area?
Location is another big factor. You can sink a lot of money into an event that is 3hrs away - stabling, trailering, hotels, extra trainer fees...
I run unrecognized because of cost, and because usually I'm not showing at an official recognized level.
Unrecognized for me often runs on a recognized course so I get the same courses and facilities. It isn't always closer though.
If it isn't on a recognized course the courses are usually shorter and the fences are smaller, which is perfect for me. I also enjoy the food, the personal attention, and the ability to tailor things to what I need. Last year at an event I asked to skip a few fences on XC because I was nervous about them. I of course ran for no score but it was an excelent experience.
It kinda depends on the horse/rider for me, but I am VERY choosy about my unrecognized venues. I typically only patronize venues that also hold recognized events (so, around here, Loch Moy, Waredaca, Fair Hill, etc), as I find that the organization, course design, and safety are often on par with a recognized competition. I've had some less than savory experiences at venues that do not hold recognized competitions (though I've had good ones, too. Of course, I've also had unsavory experiences at recognized competitions, including one at a world class venue where I spent a FORTUNE on entry fees and stabling...just to get horrible footing and horribly organized organizers), so I am wary of wasting my or a client's money on a less than great outing.
Typically, I'll choose an unrec over a rec if the horse is very, very green, been having an issue that needs to be schooled (usually an issue that only arises in a show environment), or if I need to knock the rust off of a confirmed horse and it works out on the calendar. The reasons are often similar for riders- new to eventing, has had issues at other shows, or just needs a refresher before spending the big bucks on rec stuff.
My horse has had the last six months off for an injury. He was running recognized Training before then, but we just moved to a new area. When he gets going again, I plan on finding (on here ) for some good unrecognized events in the area. As a graduate student I don't have the money to drop a ton at a recognized event just to run a few novices this fall when he was already confirmed at that level. As long as the safety of the course is there and the questions appropriate for that level, I don't care if it's unrecognized, especially since we'll just be knocking the rust off!
Like yb and others said, I am fine with unrec (and it is cheaper and more relaxed) for experience/mileage IF I am comfortable with the venue.
There is actually one local venue that is very nice and does run rec events...and I am a bit cautious about their unrec, because one way they save money is to sort of do home baked course design. This had led to off striding in SJ (not what I want with a green or unconfident or rusty horse) and some real head scratchers on XC (once I was luckily walking the course while it was being decorated, and pointed out to the organizer that asking unrec T to jump a max vertical at edge of water, 90 turn IN water, out a very tall up bank was probably a bit overkill, especially as fence 3 (!)....she said..."oh, is that hard? ok, we'll just skip the bank then...").
So it does depend, and I'd definitely get feedback about specific events before you go if doing unrec.
It kinda depends on the horse/rider for me, but I am VERY choosy about my unrecognized venues. I typically only patronize venues that also hold recognized events (so, around here, Loch Moy, Waredaca, Fair Hill, etc), as I find that the organization, course design, and safety are often on par with a recognized competition. I've had some less than savory experiences at venues that do not hold recognized competitions (though I've had good ones, too.
Agreed completely. I haven't competed at an unrecognized event since my first tadpole event when I was probably 13, but I have done CT's and short courses at Loch Moy with my OTTB when he was first starting that were very well run. If it came down it, I would go to all three of those you listed before one that didn't also hold recognized competitions.
I've attended unrecognized competitions to help a friend or photograph and I've seen too many bad courses and disorganization to want to participate myself.
If you can find an unrecognized event that's up to good standards, I would go there because of the usually casual atmosphere, plus saving money. At the Loch Moy events in particular, I signed up for an extra show jumping round once after I completed my CT and the course designer/SJ judge let me go back in the ring and take the time to school my horse because there wasn't anyone else waiting to go. He was also very complementary to me about my horse and my second round. That's the kind of stuff I appreciate, especially if I have a green horse. And you're not going to be able to do that at a recognized event.
I go unrecognized for now because of cost and experience level, I'm lucky if I can afford two or three events a year as it is. I would really like to go recognized one of these days just to experience it for a change. Eventful acres puts on a very good event, it's very pretty there and well run. They have an ambulance on hand and follow the USEA rulebook. I've been going there for quite awhile for schooling and competition and have lots of fun. If you are interested go now, the people who own it are getting older who knows how long it will be around for us in northern CA to use before they decide to retire. I intend to enjoy the venue for as long as I can, I have great memories from that place. It just depends on your preference and what your expectations are as far as cost, experience etc. I'm glad your first event was a success for you, thats whats most important.
I have a perfect body, it's in the trunk and it's starting to smell!
I have done unrecognized events at recognized facilities, same courses so it's great and cheaper.
I also like several local unrecognized events especially for green horses or riders. If you're in between a level and fence 7 and 9 scare you then you can tell them you're skipping those fences, compete without a score, and have a good ride.
Almost exclusively recognized events for the standards and professional course design. Yes, it is more money, but well worth it. I would rather run fewer shows of good quality, than a bunch of mish mash unrecognized events.
I'm sure some unrecognized shows in some areas are great (particularly if the organizer is also a course designer and/or upper level rider), but I too have been to an unrecognized event at a facility that also holds recognized events and the course design was awful. Check to see who is designing the courses for any unrecognized event, before entering. Some facility owners/organizers are professional course designers, which is great. Some.... are not (no matter what they think).
Here in Area2 we are lucky to have many good unrecognized and recognized events and frankly I have run into course design and safety issues just as much at the recognized events as the un. I go unrecognized with a horse that has an issue we need to work past...sticky at the water say...because they usually are more lenient...I have even gotten off and led the horse through the water once...we were of course eliminated but as we were safe the folks were delightful and let me continue...horse got from beginning to end and figured it out, lesson learned, worth the money and would not have been possible at a recognized event. I also go unrecognized for the first events for a horse I plan to sell. Don't want any surprises on that all important record if I can help it.
I'll run unrecognized at venues that also offer USEA Horse Trials. Running unrecognized is a great money saver for me and usually a great money maker for the organizer. I'm confident with the courses and organization.
1. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
Overall, i prefer recognized. They are typically better run and more organized than unrecognized. That being said, recognized events are expensive so I will attend unrecognized events if:
- Either I, or someone I know and trust (i.e. trainer) has been to the venue before and I know it is well designed, good footing, etc.
- They say that they are running by USEA rules. This is a big one for me. If they don't run by the USEA rules, than they can basically make up whatever they want
- I do really prefer to attend events that also host recognized but I will attend unrecognized even if they don't, only if I know it is a good and well run venue.
Overall, I pretty much agree with everyone else. I try to make the majority of my events recognized but when I can't, I do not mind competing at a nice, well-run, organized unrecongnized event. Congrats on your first event and good luck for the rest of your season!