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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct. 19, 2009
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    1,116

    Default What to expect at your first "A" show?

    without a trainer? I know you pre-register and the costs are higher, but what else? How do you know if the show you're going to is a "small" A or a big one? If you live relatively close to the venue, would you still get a stall and come the day before? If hiring a braider, do they meet you early at the show in the morning?

    Any information would be greatly appreciated!



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb. 21, 2011
    Posts
    355

    Default

    The difference between A shows and local shows varies greatly depending on the quality of local shows in your area. Where I am, there are some local shows that have footing and jumps that are A quality. I have done everything from local shows to WEF. To me, the biggest difference is the competition. At the AA shows, especially in the hunters, horses are all impeccably turned out and most of the rounds are without major error. You don't see nearly as many horses not jumping around, spooking, out of control, etc. The horses appear well prepared (if not seasoned) and competent at what they are showing in, even in the baby greens. At the local shows, there are a lot more "difficulties" for lack of a better word; more horses and riders that are over-matched or under-prepared. This is not to say that everyone at a local show is like that!!! There are plenty of competent, well suited horses at local shows too. The other big difference is schooling. At local shows, often you get to school in the show ring. At A shows, this is rare. You get to do a couple plain warm up jumps in the schooling area, then into the show ring you go. An A show horse needs to be accustomed to jumping around without schooling. If you don't have a trainer, you will definitely need a ground person to adjust the schooling fences for you. You will want to start out with a small warm up fence and work your way up to the height you are showing. Your ground person can make these adjustments and pick up a rail if your horse knocks one down.

    If you live close it is not mandatory to get a stall at the venue. Do so only if you feel your horse or you need it in order to relax or get acclimated. Talk to your braider and see where he/she wants to meet you. I have had braiders meet me at a show or at the farm in advance. Depends on what's easiest for them.

    Check out show results for previous years on the USEF website under "competitions" to see about how many entries you might expect in your class. Depending on location, season, and division, entry numbers vary greatly. For example, there are far fewer horses at A shows in the northeast in the winter because a lot of people are in FL.

    Good luck!



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb. 5, 2007
    Location
    Huntington Beach, CA
    Posts
    1,272

    Default

    The show premium will tell you if the show is a "A" show or a "AA" show. The show premium will tell you if you can trailer in, what the day fee will be and whether you can get a day stall. Finding braider's is relatively easy. I usually go the day before and ask any of the trainers who their braider is and if they have a phone number. Most the time fitting in one more horse is not a problem.

    I have gone to many shows without a trainer and done my own grooming. You may get strange looks, but you will be fine.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov. 6, 2009
    Posts
    2,202

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Crown Royal View Post
    without a trainer? I know you pre-register and the costs are higher, but what else? How do you know if the show you're going to is a "small" A or a big one? If you live relatively close to the venue, would you still get a stall and come the day before? If hiring a braider, do they meet you early at the show in the morning?

    Any information would be greatly appreciated!
    Read your prize list ahead of time. You may not need to enter in advance, but you may need to pay a late fee.

    If I'm new to a show venue or not all that close by I will get a stall. Or, if my horse is green and nervous I'll get a stall to give them the full show experience. But, you can save a lot of money sometimes by not getting a stall. I like to go ahead and scope out where my trailer will be parked if I'm thinking of not getting a stall. If there is a nice spot to park, I'm thrilled to not get a stall. Gosh, it can be so convenient to not get a stall--no unloading and setting up, just open the tackroom door!

    Definitely bring a ground person to help you warm up even if you don't have a trainer. You will need someone to "guard" a jump and set it for you so you can get a few jumps in at appropriate heights before your round.

    It helps if you know someone else at the show to get the name of a braider, but honestly someone would probably be happy to pass that on to you if you asked around.

    Really the only downside to trailering in by yourself for a show is not having a golf cart there to zip around in.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan. 16, 2003
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    3,068

    Default

    You can save a lot of money by not getting a stall, but remember that most divisions will run two days, so there's the inconvenience of coming and going, and coming back again. The down side is that most shows sell stalls for the whole show, not by the day. If it's your first show, I'd pay for the stall, come early and watch and learn. Most trainers will know in advance if it's a big show, or if the entries are down. Check the prize list for the entry closing date, and call if you plan to late enter. Some shows fill up and don't accept late entries.
    It's 2014. Do you know where your old horse is?



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan. 23, 2004
    Posts
    294

    Default all good information but on the down side

    Prior posters have indicated good info -- on the down side - showing at the A level by yourself often finds you getting bumped at the in gate - just as you are ready to go in by trainer with x numbers that HAVE to go right NOW, without a trainer's name to put yourself with, you tend to slide down the check in list, expect similiar treatment from office staff, I spent 30 minutes trying to check out a show because trainer came in after me and started talking to management - I was ignored until I finally said something (should not have let it go on so long but I was sort of in shock). I've showed out of trailer and gotten stall -- with just one stall, I found I had to wait for an entire line of stalls to be watered before I could get the hose for my stall (faster to go around the corner to another spigot and carry water in bucket) and finally be prepared for the look that you'll get after winning something when someone asks "who do you ride with?" hummmm myself........never fails to bring forth a bit of shocked look

    All that said, it can still be a great time and especially fun if you are having good trips and pinning regardless of being with trainer.

    Hope you have a great time!!



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul. 24, 2006
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    5,503

    Default

    There's a lot of variability in A shows from zone to zone and state to state. So my first comment would be that you're best off getting advice from local folks. But yes, you figure out the size of the show based on the premium. And often you can look at the classes offered to figure out what the attendance will be like. I have a bias towards the jumper ring since that's where I live, so I often look to see if there's a big Grand Prix (i.e. national standard), a local GP, or a miniprix, since regardless of the rating of the show those will often dictate the attendance of the big barns. I also look at $$ offered in divisions. A show with lots of money will always bring in good competition (and usually good numbers). This may only be really relevent in the big classes (meaning I look at those indicators to determine whether there will be enough High AOs to fill a division at a smaller A).

    In regards to the back gate issues....I've always made friends with the backgate people and haven't ever had an issue getting bumped or otherwise displaced in the order. In fact, I've always made a point of being up at the gate early and being ready to go in if there's a hold-up (or to be the first horse in the class since that's often a source of frustration when the first horse isn't ready to go), and I think that's given me a lot of leeway at the back gate in classes where I care about order of go. But the warning by Pheobe is very valid if you're new to the circuit.....be nice to the people running the back gate!

    In regards to shipping in.....that really depends on the show. Around here they charge a $50 day fee for horses not stabled on show grounds. If you're planning to show all 5 days, you're looking at $250 in day fees. Might as well get a stall at that price since once you add in gas/effort/time you're right up at the $300 cost for stalls (again, that's the cost around here - $200 for the stall for the show and $100 for shavings/disposal - maybe it's cheaper in other areas). I've hauled in for classes before, and I HATE it! There's no way to know when your class will really end up running (Murphy's Law of show timing....everything runs late until the one day you're late when they run all the jumper classes as speed classes and the show ends up running oddly fast ), and since it's not the norm, there's no good place to park a trailer to tie the horse to (and I'm not a fan of leaving my horse in the trailer, though I have opened the whole thing up and used it as a stall if I have a few hours wait). But if you're only planning to show 1-2 days it may be worth it. As a side note, the shows around here have started offering weekend-only stalls for shows at a reduced rate.

    I'm not sure I understand your comment about higher costs. Are you saying that "A" shows cost more without a trainer or that "A" shows are more expensive than "B" (etc.) shows? A shows are certainly more expensive than B/C/unrated shows around here (and everywhere, I would imagine), but it doesn't cost anything more to show without a trainer.

    My advice would be to talk to a local trainer and ask if you can tag along with his or her group. I'll often times board "with" a barn (not really with them, just to be near people I know) so I'm not my own island in the stabling area. And honestly? The first time I would suggest biting the bullet and paying a trainer to school you just so you can be sure to have someone there to help you decipher everything at the show so that you're ready to do it on your own the next time around. Shows are stressful enough without having someone who knows things better than you along for advice

    With all of that being said, showing without a trainer can be a lot of fun. I have a lot more friends from just about every barn out there now that I didn't have when I was part of a big(ger) barn (where we tended to stick together as a group). I have complete flexibility over my schedule (never have to wait for my trainer to finish at another ring or with another client) and don't have to wait to go in the ring for my barn buddies because the trainer wants to school us together. There are times when I miss being a part of a group, but more often than not I'm happy to be on my own.
    __________________________________
    Forever exiled in the NW.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul. 22, 2008
    Posts
    1,391

    Default

    I agree with PNW. It's easier getting into the ring when you're on your own, as long as you're communicating with the gate person. Usually, some trainer is holding things up and the gate people are very happy to have someone who can go in as soon as the ring's empty.

    The office can be a pain when you're on your own. I haven't really had problems with being made to wait, but they can be really snotty if you're on your own and they don't know you. Of course there's no reason to let that bother you.

    As for trailering in versus getting a stall, the latter usually is cheaper but I think it only works well when you're less than two hours away, your horse is not too green and is accustomed to trailering in for shows, and your classes are not too early or too late (which might involve a lot of waiting around in the trailer). It is usually more relaxing for you and your horse if you have a stall. Also, weather can play a factor in how comfortable your horse will be in the trailer. You'll also have more opportunities to meet people and make contacts for things like braiders if you're in the stables rather than off by yourself in your trailer.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct. 19, 2009
    Posts
    1,116

    Default

    Thank you everyone! All information was VERY helpful!



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