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Future of HITS Balmoral?

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  • #21
    Originally posted by endlessclimb View Post
    Living less than 10 minutes away from the place - they are outrageously expensive in comparison to other venues, and poorly run to boot.

    Not surprising this endeavour is not working out too well for them. You can spend a week at Lamplight for half the cost.
    Why is Lamplight so much less expensive for you?

    Here's how Balmoral in June compared to Equifest in July/August for me (I show Hunters, maybe Jumpers are different?):

    Low Hunters: $180 Equifest, $175 Balmoral
    Am Adults: $195 Equifest, $175 Balmoral (maybe the prizes were different, I didn't pay attention)
    Stall Fee: $275 Equifest, $250 Balmoral
    Medic Fee: $15 Equifest, $0 Balmoral
    Tax: $13 Equifest, $0 Balmoral
    Office Fee, USHJA Fee, and USEF Fees same at both shows

    Costs were comparable for me.
    ~ Citizens for a Kinder, Gentler COTH...our mantra: Be nice. ~

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    • #22
      Originally posted by snaffle635 View Post

      Why is Lamplight so much less expensive for you?

      Here's how Balmoral in June compared to Equifest in July/August for me (I show Hunters, maybe Jumpers are different?):

      Low Hunters: $180 Equifest, $175 Balmoral
      Am Adults: $195 Equifest, $175 Balmoral (maybe the prizes were different, I didn't pay attention)
      Stall Fee: $275 Equifest, $250 Balmoral
      Medic Fee: $15 Equifest, $0 Balmoral
      Tax: $13 Equifest, $0 Balmoral
      Office Fee, USHJA Fee, and USEF Fees same at both shows

      Costs were comparable for me.
      Totally agree - Pricing is very similar to Equifest(We show the jumpers). Not sure on where Equifest being half price comes from? Balmoral does have a lot more options to show in the jumpers so maybe they did twice as many classes?

      Comment


      • #23
        Our barn has had a huge drop in people willing to show at Balmoral over the past couple years. People used to complain about Ledges but now they're returning there in droves because they prefer it to Balmoral. Lamplight is still insanely popular for us the couple weeks a year they have shows....I think we sent 30ish horses to Equifest I.

        A lot of the people at my barn just don't like the location and distance to Balmoral. The Chicagoans are fine with it but a lot of the NW suburb locals think it's a pain in the ass to get to then stay at hotels they consider too far.

        I hear a lot of complaints about the general set up of Balmoral too. No shade, horses are very spooky there, etc etc. I've been staying at homebase playing with babies the past few years so I don't have anything to offer personally other than I miss Lamplight.

        Interestingly enough, now we can't get anybody to do winter Ledges. Everybody would prefer sending the horses off for the week to WEC.

        Comment


        • #24
          I have showed at Balmoral all three years it has been open. It has improved slightly year to year. The first year there was no shade or shelter, the second year they built those wooden structures by each ring, with some extra flimsy tents and the third year they had both those wooden structures and several more sturdy, more permanent looking tents. Also the footing was much better the third year. The barns are really nice (although super dusty because the aisles are some sort of sand/grit material that doesn't get watered) and I do appreciate a real, working bathroom right by your stalls. No long hike (WEC) and no porta-potties (Lamplight). So they at least got that right. The secondary hunter rings are far away from the barns, but you don't need a golf cart. You can drive your own personal car from the barns right up to those rings. They didn't use them this year (moved Hunter 2 so it was next to the Grand Hunter Ring, so all the rings were together), but last year there were lots of people who would pull their cars up close to the outlying rings and watch the action ringside from the comfort of their vehicles. There is plenty of parking in that area. Yes, it's a longish walk for the horses/riders, but let's be honest, the same is true for most of the stabling at the KY Horse Park and no-one complains about that. The grandstand facility is massive. The parts people are allowed to see are actually in pretty good shape but I had an opportunity to tour the non-public areas and wow. It's like walking into the past where all the people were evaporated suddenly. All of the racing paraphernalia is lying around, old newspapers, old half drunk beverages etc and the roof leaks in that area, so it's all growing a layer of mold/mildew. When I saw that I realized the level of financial investment the grandstand actually needs. And clearly isn't getting. I can't imagine that the show is going to be able to make enough money anytime soon to deal with those areas. Close hotels are a problem and people worry about the local hospital. It is apparently very bad, so if you're injured at Balmoral, that's a concern. There is one hotel in Matteson that is fine (it has improved significantly to cater to the horse show people), about 7 mins away, but any other options are 25 mins away. I live in a very northern suburb of Chicago and do not stay. It's easily commutable - 70 mins in the early morning, 90 mins on a bad traffic day. Not worth it to stay there, even for the first class in the ring. It's expensive, but show me an A show that isn't. As a previous poster mentioned, my show bill for Equifest was as much, or more, than for Balmoral. Lamplight is prettier and a bit closer, but the bathroom facilities are way worse and it's certainly not cheaper (at least Equifest isn't). My biggest issue with Balmoral is the lack of entries. It is a bummer to spend all that money and compete against 2-5 other people. But, the same can be said of the Ledges shows (especially winter ones but also summer ones). There just isn't a thriving show scene in Chicago really. Other than Equifest, people from interstate are not traveling to show in Chicago. I remember the days of California splits in almost all classes every week of Spring Spectacular, so I do think Balmoral killed the Chicago summer show scene and there has never really been a thriving winter one because indoor Ledges is not considered safe by so many people.

          Comment


          • #25
            Balmoral is too far and I have less then zero interest in going there. Lamplight and Ledges are half the distance and both perfectly good facilities with plenty of showing opportunities so why bother?

            And NIHJA shows are literally half the cost of the A's, my word, $275 for a stall? That's ridiculous. But I digress.
            Power to the People

            Comment


            • #26
              Originally posted by Sswor View Post
              Balmoral is too far and I have less then zero interest in going there. Lamplight and Ledges are half the distance and both perfectly good facilities with plenty of showing opportunities so why bother?

              And NIHJA shows are literally half the cost of the A's, my word, $275 for a stall? That's ridiculous. But I digress.
              Lamplight doesn't have plenty of showing options for A shows, though. Only 3 weeks a year (Equifest). So if your focus is the A circuit, Lamplight really isn't cutting it anymore. Ledges A shows are also tiny. There are a fair number of them, but entries are not robust, either summer or winter. Also, I think many would argue with you that indoor Ledges is a "perfectly good facility". The warm-up ring for indoor Ledges is insane and potentially highly dangerous and the show ring itself is very narrow, which makes jumper divisions pretty scary to watch. $275 for a stall is pretty standard on the A show circuit, unfortunately, regardless of the facility you're at. Yes, NIHJA is cheaper (and frequently better attended than local Chicago A shows), but you can't qualify for any sort of national final riding on the NIHJA circuit, so it just depends what your focus/desires are.

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              • #27
                I definitely think the working amateur is the market they need to target. People that want to show and are local to Chicago, St. Louis, Indy, Etc. but can't afford to take more than a day or two away from work. Plenty of horse-people around Chicago and I can't imagine they all have the ability to take off a week or more to go to GLEF or Kentucky.

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                • #28
                  From a professional's perspective:
                  We went the first year with 10 horses, and everyone involved hated it. HITS management is the worst. The office is rude, and they know and don't care. We tried to stick with the Showplace productions people that we know and love, but the HITS staff was so rude to them that most of them quit after the first season.
                  Our pre ordered shavings never showed up, Pat himself had to deliver them, as the HITS attitude was too bad, so sad, we don't care
                  No shade, at all
                  Cafe's didn't open until 7:00 am, and closed at 4. If you are working at a show, there's no way to eat at 7, you're gtting ready to start showing then, The food was only available on one side of the facility, and even with a golf cart took forever to get food, more time then working people have at a show. There were no food stands on the opposite side of the facility
                  Ingates were incompetent, and didn't seem to know or care what they were doing. Some were downright nasty. The really good gate people were super frustrated by the incompetence of the others
                  The footing was horrible,
                  We were one of the major sponsors of the show, and I was treated so rudely by TS that I could.not.believe. it. Not even a thank you
                  No a/c in the grandstand as advertised
                  The VIP food was not set out before 7 or so, so again, we couldn't get to the "free" food
                  As a woman traveling alone, the area was downright spooky for me. I was not comfortable leaving my hotel room to go to dinner, unless I was accompanied by a male aquaintance
                  The costs were astronomical, IMO. I had a client show her horse in 2 unrated divisions, Novice and Modified adult, and I rode the horse in 2 pro classes. Cost: Just under $2000. 2 weeks later, we went to Traverse City to show, one of the most expensive areas to show ar vacation at, same entry, cost $900
                  THe place is generally gross and dirty
                  From the Far Western 'burbs, there is no easy way to get there. It's a minimum of 2 hours driving, no matter how you go, which means that if you are working there, you stay, unless you don't value sleep
                  We show at Ledges a lot, as we don't have Grand Prix horses or International Hunter Derby horses. Footing is always good, indoor and out, people are very nice and accommodating, hotels are not expensive, horses love it
                  I was in on one of the conference calls with TS, and believe me when I tell you, he doesn't care about the consumer
                  You get 1 chance to make a first impression, and believe me, it was not a good one. None of my customers will go back.
                  Kentucky is huge, but beautiful and safe. Horses love it there.

                  Comment


                  • #29
                    Originally posted by Horsehusband View Post
                    I definitely think the working amateur is the market they need to target. People that want to show and are local to Chicago, St. Louis, Indy, Etc. but can't afford to take more than a day or two away from work. Plenty of horse-people around Chicago and I can't imagine they all have the ability to take off a week or more to go to GLEF or Kentucky.
                    Those people are going to the packed NIHJA shows and they don't want to go to Balmoral either. Tons of show facilities that are much closer.
                    Power to the People

                    Comment


                    • #30
                      Originally posted by kirbydog View Post
                      From a professional's perspective:
                      We went the first year with 10 horses, and everyone involved hated it. HITS management is the worst. The office is rude, and they know and don't care. We tried to stick with the Showplace productions people that we know and love, but the HITS staff was so rude to them that most of them quit after the first season.
                      Our pre ordered shavings never showed up, Pat himself had to deliver them, as the HITS attitude was too bad, so sad, we don't care
                      No shade, at all
                      Cafe's didn't open until 7:00 am, and closed at 4. If you are working at a show, there's no way to eat at 7, you're gtting ready to start showing then, The food was only available on one side of the facility, and even with a golf cart took forever to get food, more time then working people have at a show. There were no food stands on the opposite side of the facility
                      Ingates were incompetent, and didn't seem to know or care what they were doing. Some were downright nasty. The really good gate people were super frustrated by the incompetence of the others
                      The footing was horrible,
                      We were one of the major sponsors of the show, and I was treated so rudely by TS that I could.not.believe. it. Not even a thank you
                      No a/c in the grandstand as advertised
                      The VIP food was not set out before 7 or so, so again, we couldn't get to the "free" food
                      As a woman traveling alone, the area was downright spooky for me. I was not comfortable leaving my hotel room to go to dinner, unless I was accompanied by a male aquaintance
                      The costs were astronomical, IMO. I had a client show her horse in 2 unrated divisions, Novice and Modified adult, and I rode the horse in 2 pro classes. Cost: Just under $2000. 2 weeks later, we went to Traverse City to show, one of the most expensive areas to show ar vacation at, same entry, cost $900
                      THe place is generally gross and dirty
                      From the Far Western 'burbs, there is no easy way to get there. It's a minimum of 2 hours driving, no matter how you go, which means that if you are working there, you stay, unless you don't value sleep
                      We show at Ledges a lot, as we don't have Grand Prix horses or International Hunter Derby horses. Footing is always good, indoor and out, people are very nice and accommodating, hotels are not expensive, horses love it
                      I was in on one of the conference calls with TS, and believe me when I tell you, he doesn't care about the consumer
                      You get 1 chance to make a first impression, and believe me, it was not a good one. None of my customers will go back.
                      Kentucky is huge, but beautiful and safe. Horses love it there.
                      This is a perfect description of HITS management of Balmoral. Plus, Pat was treated very poorly. Everyone knows he can run shows well.

                      An alternative to the NIHJA shows, the B circuit offers well-run shows once a month for a lower price.

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        Just have to say y'all's definition of the middle of nowhere varies quite a bit from mine!


                        I was really hoping to run up to Sport Horse Nationals but it doesn't look like that will happen.

                        Coming from the breed show background it is odd to hear people complain about the distance when it is just a handful of counties away- I'm used to entire states of distance. But I can see where it can be a factor when other facilities are better run. The lack of hotels, poor layout, management and safety concerns are obviously the big issues.

                        Comment


                        • #32
                          THe thing for us is, in our area, we can travel about an hour and get treated great at Ledges, which also has fabulous footing, we can go the distance to Kentucky or Traverse, which are beautiful, and again, be treated well, go to WEC, which people seem to love, though I have never been, or go to Balmoral and get jacked around.

                          Kentucky and Traverse have a lot of great "off campus" activities when you're done showing. Balmoral....not so much

                          Pat Boyle puts on a great show, and for us, Ledges is like wearing your comfy clothes; not the fanciest, but definitely like home

                          Comment


                          • #33
                            Right. I understand management and area makes a huge impact.

                            I will chime in after Sport Horse if I hear any of their perspective. I am sure hotels will be a huge factor.

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              I am nearby in NW IN & had hopes for Balmoral to be able to get a foothold in the area as it is a desert for showing otherwise.
                              I believe HITS thought they could catch people on their way to, or returning from FL.

                              Also had hopes for ADS or CAA to perhaps do some Driving shows there as "wasteland" does not come close to describing what is available for me nearby in that discipline.

                              I hope HITS doesn't just throw in the towel, but regroups & addresses the problems posted above.

                              Agree hotel/motel situation in nearest IL burbs of Crete, Monee, etc is bleak, but is 25min really too far to go for a decent hotel or nice - even very nice - restaurant?
                              The corridor along I65 has a ton of choices from el cheapo motels to better:

                              https://www.hotels-rates.com/poi/us-...ille-7564.html


                              Dining:

                              https://www.yelp.com/search?cflt=res...illville%2C+IN

                              *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                              Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                              Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                              Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                25 minutes is too long if your day starts at 5-5:30am, trust me....

                                also, being cook county, hotels are considerably more expensive, but not necessarily nicer.
                                Yah, you pay a premium in TC, but hey, you're in Traverse City!

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by Horsehusband View Post
                                  I definitely think the working amateur is the market they need to target. People that want to show and are local to Chicago, St. Louis, Indy, Etc. but can't afford to take more than a day or two away from work. Plenty of horse-people around Chicago and I can't imagine they all have the ability to take off a week or more to go to GLEF or Kentucky.
                                  This x 1000 ^^^^^^^^

                                  The main reason I only show local shows anymore.

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    Well this has certainly been enlightening since I'm going to Arabian Sport Horse Nationals there in 2 weeks!

                                    Rented a golf cart, which I never do, even at KHP, based on what people said here. Don't know what to do about food situation, hoping the AHA show organizers have something planned. Guess we better plan to get breakfast at the hotel every morning! We are bringing our own shavings as I forgot to put them on the entry form.

                                    Any other tips much appreciated!

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      I'm still trying to find my cost breakdowns for my claims, everyone. That and asking the people I went with at the time, as they felt the same way, along with the fact that it's run by total nincompoops.

                                      HITS balmoral is no way bigger than the KHP. I'm the jerk that, on larger show grounds, will ride around with my bike and a flatbed trailer attached to it. I call it the food train. I try to only ride with the trailer if I'm feeding, but I refuse to rent a golf cart. haha

                                      There are restaurants and breweries in downtown Crete that are decent, within 15 minutes or so, that would be good for dinners. Breakfast, I'm honestly not sure because the only time I'm down there early early is getting hay or going to the feed store.

                                      Comment


                                      • #39
                                        Originally posted by oldernewbie View Post
                                        Well this has certainly been enlightening since I'm going to Arabian Sport Horse Nationals there in 2 weeks!

                                        Rented a golf cart, which I never do, even at KHP, based on what people said here. Don't know what to do about food situation, hoping the AHA show organizers have something planned. Guess we better plan to get breakfast at the hotel every morning! We are bringing our own shavings as I forgot to put them on the entry form.

                                        Any other tips much appreciated!
                                        Do not stay at the Hampton Inn Schererville (very poorly run). Hampton Inn in Hammond is better, and an easy, all-highway (albeit 25 minute) drive to Balmoral. The Holiday Inn in Matteson was popular with some because they have an on-site restaurant and bar, but the neighborhood at night is not the greatest. Breakfast on your own is the way to go. Don't be afraid to trade in your golf cart on one that actually works, especially at the end of the season. Several times if necessary. Make sure they open up the storage room for you in your barn. There are several at the ends of each building. Watch out for the sinks in the barn bathrooms..we had a young rider lean on one to try to see herself in the mirror and she pulled it off the wall.

                                        Comment


                                        • #40
                                          Originally posted by oldernewbie View Post
                                          We are bringing our own shavings as I forgot to put them on the entry form.
                                          I would be shocked if they let you use them. Shocked. But I would be equally shocked if they didn't let you order them now, or ordered as soon as you check in at the show office. To my knowledge there isn't a single horse show facility in Chicagoland that allows outside shavings.
                                          Power to the People

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