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Crunching numbers - lower levels don't make economic sense

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  • Crunching numbers - lower levels don't make economic sense

    Well, time on my hands, slow at work....so I decided to hone on my rather rudimentary math skills.
    Rounded off, I took a general look at the costs for the Beginner Novice and Novice eventing divisions at a recognized event. WHEW Did I get a eye opener.
    Conclusions: If the novice levels (and beginner novice levels to a lesser extent) are SUPPORTING the upper levels, the whole sport of eventing is in serious economic trouble, because as soon as competitors figure out the economics - they are going to swell the unrecognized events. If you read down, I've offered a couple of well, some might say, off the wall suggestions to counter this headlong rush to collapse.

    Beginner Novice. (Rec.)
    $175 entry fee. $30 grounds fee. $17 drug fee. Estimating: add $50 gas and/or ship, and $25 coaching/food/misc. (These are admittedly low estimates). Not figuring stall fees! Total: $297
    That's $100 per phase, give or take.
    Jump total, 8 for stadium, no more than 16 for XC. 24 jumps. $12.40 per jump. 3 min. dressage test, 2 min. stadium round, 5 min. xc.10 minutes total competition time. $29.70 per minute.
    Beginner Novice (Unrecognized)
    $80 entry fee. No grounds fee. No drug fee. $50 gas/ship, $25/coach/food/misc.
    Total: $155
    About $52 a phase.
    Jump total: 8 stadium, 12-15 xc, about 20. $7.75 per jump. 3 min. dressage, 2 min. stadium, 4 min. xc. 9 min. $17.22 per minute.

    WOW. You can develop very valid reasoning for the additional cost of the recognized, and we've all heard those arguments. I totally agree with them. But I'm just sayin'.....look at the cost difference. At this level, which is introductory in nature, the horse really doesn't know it's recognized, nor the beginning rider. Lots of starter courses probably will about the same as recognized.

    I think you can about make the same argument for Novice, but the numbers will be different as there are more jumps but the minutes are about the same.

    Economically, the numbers don't significantly change until you get to Preliminary, where you are jumping up to 40 fences. Then the cost per jump drops of course.

    SHOCK. No wonder people complain about the cost of recognized events and no wonder the starter events are swelling.
    OK, now for solutions. I am primarily thinking of Beginner Novice. . . pretty revolutionary for Novice, I guess -- but you know what -- dressage is going to be changing the judging formula and I didn't think I would see that in my lifetime, so perhaps it is also time for eventing to start rocking the world on its ear, too.

    Dressage:
    1. consider group classes -- 4-6 riders at a time, peforming walk, trot, canter - 1 judge marks each rider at each gait and gives another overall score for transitions, submission, rider's aids. Like the dressage equitation at Dressage at Devon, easily done like a hack class, allow events to handle the division in a less expensive way ( less judging time, fewer judges needed.)
    2. Utilize less qualified judges - L dressage judges, long time horsemen with unrec. judging experience, course designers or others with credentials in eventing but just not judges cards - determined by the organizer committee. (Lower cost)
    Jumping phases:
    3. Run XC like a derby, put stadium jumps within the XC or before them or just after them, and the jumping phase for this division would be a combined one - you do dressage, you do jumping, like the YEH is now. Cuts out one whole judge and course time.

    Your thoughts? Let'er rip.....
    Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
    Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)

  • #2
    SHHHH... nobody would know if you didn't tell them!

    It's all a personal choice as to how you spend your money. Up here, we only have recognized. If there are unrecognized, I would never spend the money to enter because you NEVER know what you are going to get. I spend the money because I KNOW that the course will be properly built and the footing will generally be decent. However, if I was in a place with greenies that had great unrec like many of the areas in the US, I would show unrec with young greenies. Everything here is also run over 1 day or 2. Champs over 2. 2 day shows split the divisions, so BN-T and OT-I on the next day. Generally speaking. Makes it much less expensive.

    HOWEVER, I do NOT agree with changing the format of a regular horse trial. It is about putting 3 phases together. A hack would not cut it and would not prep riders to learn the dressage phase. Keep the format. If you're concerned about costs, go unrec. If organizers are looking for ways to cut costs, I'm sure there are other ways other than changing the format.

    Comment


    • #3
      Your argument rests on the assumption that people care about the cost per jump. As a BN smurf rider myself, that is not AT ALL how I choose my competition venues. I could care less what the "cost per jump" is. If I wanted to play the "cost per jump" game, I'd go to my local friendly jumper schooling show.

      Speaking of schooling shows, all of the classes you proposed do exist on local schooling circuits, and I've seen some eventing venues use them at unrecognized events.
      Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/

      Comment


      • #4
        I try to do unrec for BN/N (and more schooling, less showing!) for the same reason.
        Unless a horse is for sale, it's hard to me to justify that extra expense.

        That said, I never have thought of it in terms of cost per fence. I'm still not sure how to process that, since I WOULD like it if my entry were less, but I WOULDN'T like it if my first time horse had a 40 jump effort course.

        Because we have a lot of unrec in my area (NoVA) I would still rather do that, plus schooling, than a rec trial with a group dressage/short course format. I could live with less qualified judges.

        Comment


        • #5
          There are also the intangible things, like getting away to a big "venue" type event like Maui Jim, where one sees people they only can count on seeing maybe 1-2x per year, etc. A big "away" show is something I look forward to for MONTHS, and it's worth it to me--I'd so much rather do that 3x per year than do 6-8 unrecognized HTs, if I had to choose one or the other. But that's just me, I can totally see the other side of the coin and in many circumstances local/unrecognized is the best option for just the opposite reasons: closer, easier, no hotels to book, smaller and less chaotic, etc.
          Click here before you buy.

          Comment


          • #6
            Well, I remember having this same conversation with some eventing friends about 20 years ago.... We were laughing about the cost of each judged minute on the horse.

            I do run 2 unrecognized HT's (as well as 7 other CT's) a year and strive to make it up to USEA expectations and quality and I charge $75 for entry, $15 haul in or $25 stabling. My levels are Green as grass (essentially step overs) to Training. I have absolutely no interest in changing the format for dressage or x/c, eventing should stay eventing.

            I do use L judges for dressage and function as my own TD as I'm conversant with the rule book. Jon Wells has come in a couple of times to help me build fences but I do my own course design as well, which saves money.

            My x/c footing is not up to perfect standards as I turn out horses on some of the fields we run through, but I have been working on getting better turf and hope to have it aerovated soon and again in the spring, not only for better footing but also for better pasture!

            Someone who was here last weekend asked me when I was going to run a recognized show, and though I thought it was nice she considered the place up to that, I told her I wasn't--too much additional trouble for not much additional return for me.

            Comment


            • #7
              15 years ago I went to an event and my ever-helpful brother pointed out that I drove 8 hours round trip for a total of 11 minutes of competing. Nevermind the money, that's a ridiculous ratio.

              Your math is exactly why my mare went BN recognized only a handful of times. We have enough places nearby that she could get the mileage at unrecognized. But I value the courses, judges and all the hoopla that goes with a recognized event.

              Let's face it, this is an absurdly expensive sport, even moreso if you break it down by minutes before the judge or by fence jumped.

              I can't wait to go out and spend a pile of money on it next year.

              Comment


              • #8
                I just did a rough estimate on how much I spent total on recognized events this year and it is enough to make me NEVER tell my husband .

                Comment


                • #9
                  Depending on how many times a horse refuses and has to re-jump a fence, the cost per jump could go down pretty dramatically. And if you consider cost per attempt, I'm sure it would be even lower in some cases.

                  ;-)
                  _________________________

                  http://iamthesprinklerbandit.blogspot.com/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I went to a lot more unrec stuff this year than ever before (coaching a young student just starting out) and I have to say, the difference IS big to me, even with the nice venues that host rec stuff, too. Sometimes it as silly as the quality of the volunteers (or the number of volunteers...how bout the short course at Loch Moy in Sept?? They had ONE jump judge), or as big as the often VERY BAD dressage judging. The footing is often worse, the jumps can be trappy, the show jumping can be wonky. It makes a big difference to me. Yes. I KNOW what to expect from a rec event and a lot of beginning riders don't, but as a COACH of a few beginning riders, I rather see them jump around courses designed by people I know and trust, over footing that is cared for and tended to, and judged by judges who know what the heck they are talking about (even if they piss me off every now and then ). And as a RIDER of baby horses, I rather them have all the same things that my green riders have (I rode one going novice mare at a unrec once and the course was so trappy it scared her ).

                    But, as others have said, everyone chooses to spend their money the way they want. I prefer to spend a lot more money on a lot better quality and I encourage my customers to do the same.
                    Amanda

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      My horse and I are now at Training, but I did a year + each of BN & N, mostly at rated events. Don't regret it one bit.

                      There are no unrated events closer to me than 3 hrs away, the ones I trust are more like 4 & 5 hrs away, minimum. If I'm driving that far and taking that much time, I'm going to go to a "real" event, where
                      1) the judges are more likely to be experienced (nothing against L judges as a group, just locally I've run across some.... interesting... judging, by people who may or may not have been in the L program)
                      2) the rules will always be the same
                      3) there is some oversight to the courses (I've seen some scary stuff on XC at schooling shows, and I'll jump almost anything)
                      4) I am more likely to have the chance to watch the "big kids" compete and possibly learn something
                      5) There are EMTs on grounds
                      6)There's a vet and farrier on grounds, or at least within easy call.
                      7) I'm supporting my chosen sport, and I hope that my dues and fees will be spent to the benefit of the sport as a whole.

                      So while yes, it's expensive, I think it's worth it. If I lived in an area where professional facilities ran schooling events as well as rated (and so presumably were used to doing it 'by the book' so to speak) I might split the difference, but cost is not the first thing I look at when I set out to show. If it were, I wouldn't have horses period!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        So, what you're saying is: Long routes are more cost-effective.

                        (And we should jump hundreds of warm-up fences and spend hours in dressage warm-up. Then we get our money's worth.)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          You want to really scare yourself....add up the amount you spend each year on your horse....food, shoeing, vet etc. And then sort out your hourly rate spent riding your horse. I bet to just ride my horses cost me close to my own hourly rate......just OWNING a horse doesn't make economic sense for most of us.


                          Bottom line....if people want to spend the money to do it...then I don't have a problem with it. I personally don't have any reason to show recognized at BN but can understand why someone else might.
                          ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            If anyone can really justify any of the costs associated with horses I would love to hug them. Until then, I just hug the money pits themselves, because they give it back in so many other ways.

                            Nancy
                            www.canterusa.org

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Oh heck. The competing is just the "icing". Riding every day is the cake.

                              My Mum & I once figured out total yearly costs (roughly) including the difference between a mortgage on 8 acres and a townhouse, trailer amortization, insurance, repairs, water/electric bills, hay, riding ring improvements, shows, cost of the horse & occasional replacement - everything.

                              Keeping in mind that in those days we only rode from April to end of October, with the occasional sleigh ride, we figured that each ride cost us about $25 (this was 10 years ago) - then we vowed never to do that math ever again!
                              Blugal

                              You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                But what you fail to realize is that, those cross country jumps, that takes you a few seconds to negotiate, took the course owner a LOT of time and money to build so you can get those few seconds! There is a LOT MORE to costs incurred in an event than just the judge. Courses cost money, stadium jumps cost money, dressage arenas cost money, good footing costs money, then there are the costs associated with simply putting the event on. It is durn expensive to put one of these on, even unrecognized, and there are only so many places you can cut corners without compromising safety, tradition and keep the spririt of an event. If you go to a hutner show you will probably drop about the same amount (unrecognized) or a local schooling jumper show, if you are looking at "per minute" cost. It is the nature of the sport, a LOT of time, energy and $$$ goes into your few minutes of glory.
                                www.shawneeacres.net

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by shawneeAcres View Post
                                  But what you fail to realize is that, those cross country jumps, that takes you a few seconds to negotiate, took the course owner a LOT of time and money to build so you can get those few seconds! There is a LOT MORE to costs incurred in an event than just the judge. Courses cost money, stadium jumps cost money, dressage arenas cost money, good footing costs money, then there are the costs associated with simply putting the event on. It is durn expensive to put one of these on, even unrecognized, and there are only so many places you can cut corners without compromising safety, tradition and keep the spririt of an event. If you go to a hutner show you will probably drop about the same amount (unrecognized) or a local schooling jumper show, if you are looking at "per minute" cost. It is the nature of the sport, a LOT of time, energy and $$$ goes into your few minutes of glory.
                                  YUP! Just the cost for a NICE bn fence (aka... not a log) is around $200 in materials. For a big prelim + fence, you're looking at $400+ for ONE JUMP. That doesn't include time to build the fence.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Forgot to mention - if you really want to break it down as $X per jump - go sign up for a cross-country clinic. You will jump way more for your money that way! (My parents have almost stopped competing altogether, opting instead to do a week-long XC/SJ camp during the summer.)
                                    Blugal

                                    You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      As other posters have pointed out, what you've proposed to lower the cost of the lower levels is essentially creating an unrecognized event. To me, there IS a difference between a recognized and unrecognized event - and I will gladly pay for that difference when I choose to show recognized.

                                      I wouldn't spend the extra time or money (stabling, hotel) to travel to any of the recognized shows I go to if the standards for running those shows were lower than competitors who aren't showing entry level.


                                      To respond specifically to what you suggested:

                                      Originally posted by retreadeventer View Post
                                      Dressage:
                                      1. consider group classes -- 4-6 riders at a time, peforming walk, trot, canter - 1 judge marks each rider at each gait and gives another overall score for transitions, submission, rider's aids. Like the dressage equitation at Dressage at Devon, easily done like a hack class, allow events to handle the division in a less expensive way ( less judging time, fewer judges needed.)
                                      I don't have much to say about this except that I'd never show at a show that ran dressage in this way. I think eq classes are fun, but not as the main event. Of course, maybe that's just because both of my horses would be terrible in this set up - my mare values her personal space too much, and my gelding continues to refuse to learn that life isn't just one big race to catch up to the horse in front of him.

                                      Originally posted by retreadeventer View Post
                                      2. Utilize less qualified judges - L dressage judges, long time horsemen with unrec. judging experience, course designers or others with credentials in eventing but just not judges cards - determined by the organizer committee. (Lower cost)
                                      I intend to pay more for qualified judges. Now, I think L judges are perfectly qualified to judge lower levels, up through say training or prelim, but I know plenty of "horsemen" who judge unrecognized shows that I don't think are qualified at all. Perhaps there could be something like the L judge equivalent in eventing that would allow someone to judge just BN/N, but I think they should be required to pass some sort of qualification procedure.


                                      Originally posted by retreadeventer View Post
                                      Jumping phases:
                                      3. Run XC like a derby, put stadium jumps within the XC or before them or just after them, and the jumping phase for this division would be a combined one - you do dressage, you do jumping, like the YEH is now. Cuts out one whole judge and course time.
                                      Some people disagree with combining phases that should be ridden differently - for safety reasons. I think you'd lose a lot of entries if you did this as I know several trainers in my area who won't let their students compete at derbies.

                                      I think there are options for making the lower levels - maybe all levels - more affordable, but I haven't quite figured out what they are.

                                      A few events in my area have (or have considered) turning the LLs into just one day. Some people love that; others don't.
                                      He heard the low voice of mercy, not the loud acclaim of glory.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Jazzy Lady View Post
                                        YUP! Just the cost for a NICE bn fence (aka... not a log) is around $200 in materials. For a big prelim + fence, you're looking at $400+ for ONE JUMP. That doesn't include time to build the fence.

                                        Double your minimums. A safe, well build log fence can run up to $1,000 after construction cost etc. are all added up. The cheapest fence we have at the Colorado Horse Park was $1,500. Portables are just as expensive as stationary fences as the structure has to be more robust to enable moving the fence.

                                        Reed

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