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What's it like being on the A-circuit?

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  • What's it like being on the A-circuit?

    I'm curious... please tell me, what is it actually like being on the 'A' circuit? details too please, if you don't mind? Thanks!

    eta

    Originally posted by Silk View Post
    I think the OP was asking what its like to "live" on the circuit, particularly what a typical week or month is for someone like CBoylen. Otherwise, I can tell you that I have been to some large, unrated "fairs" where there is more activity, competition and hoopla than some A shows.

    yes, that's exactly what I was meaning... sorry, I should have been more specific about it. Such as: what do kids in school do while living on the circuit re: school? Also, college students? Do parents usually travel with their children, if so how do they make a living? How long are you away from home at a time? Where do the horses stay - on the showgrounds all the time? Even when not showing? Do you show every day, for how many weeks? Do you travel between states, if so, how, flying, driving?? How many horses do you typically take away? What's it like for the grooms, how many of them? How long do you typically stay at one show for before you move onto the next? Do you stay in hotels or with the horses?

    all the good stuff like that!
    Last edited by _downpour_; Apr. 11, 2009, 05:30 AM.

  • #2
    It's like going to work each day at a regular job. This one has uniforms! You travel with friends you have known for years and meet new ones along the way. Early mornings, often long waits, tough competition, some disappointments, pushing yourself in spite of how you may feel that day and total commitment to riding. Nothing better than being outdoors on a glorious day and nothing worse than the cold and rain. Packing, unpacking. Social events are mainly for charity but many casual weekend parties. Tremendous ammount of work and without an excellent staff, great horses and a competent,knowledgeable trainer, none of it is possible. But oh so worth it !

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    • #3
      Also, very expensive.

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      • #4
        downpour, the "A circuit" is just a bunch of horseshows. Some of them are big (think WEF) and some not so big... but although you can and do see some very gifted riders and wonderful horses there, there are also plenty of others who could easily be showing against you locally. There are more people than you may think who are doing the "A circuit" on a budget, skipping the fancy parties and the extravagant set ups and just working quite hard to play in the big sandbox, either in hopes of becoming a big name themselves or perhaps because their business is supplying horses to the bigger names, and that is the way they get shown and sold.

        The level of turnout overall is perhaps a bit higher than average, depending on where you show locally; the horses are rubbed on by professional grooms and the trainers tend to have very organized programs - but this is also something that can be duplicated at home, simply by putting the time and effort in. Very few private owners spend as much time with a rub rag as a professional groom does, and the horses reflect the difference.

        For me, the most interesting part of those shows is watching the schooling rings. Seeing the lessons and warmups done by the top professionals, watching really good riders schooling their horses, and then seeing the performance that that preparation delivers in the ring is terrific.

        Mostly, doing the circuit is about long hours, hard work and - if you are lucky - some wonderful moments where the horse feels and goes really well, your eye is on the money and you impress the judges enough to earn a good prize. There is camaraderie in the barns most of the time and it is fun to be around people who are just as horse-crazy as you are. There are also early mornings and late nights and digging trenches so your tent doesn't flood when it rains... as I said, at the end of the day - they are just horseshows.
        **********
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        • #5
          Lucassb said it perfectly.
          http://www.youtube.com/user/supershorty628
          Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!

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          • #6
            ditto


            Originally posted by supershorty628 View Post
            Lucassb said it perfectly.
            Aefvue Farm Ft.Lauderdale

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            • #7
              It's the Rich People Circus.
              _____________________________________________

              -Catherine Cullen

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              • #8
                Originally posted by cbiscuit View Post
                It's the Rich People Circus.
                Not necessarily...it depends on where you are and what "A" circuit and also what you define as "rich". Although my barn is located in WI, they show mainly in the IL "A" circuit. All of the borders are very hard working individuals that have good jobs (knock on wood) to pay for our beloved creatures and our habits. So yes, some are more well off than others and can afford to show more easily than others, but I wouldn't necessarily classify anyone at my barn as being "rich," rather "well off" and "financially stable."

                This might be different in some of the larger venues like CA and NY.
                Noteworthy: worthy of notice or attention; notable; remarkable. —Synonyms: distinguished, outstanding, significant. AKA Ike (aka Hurricane Mike).

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                • #9
                  I have mostly just played at the local level. I have however dabbled into the "A"s on occasion. My take away is that the "A" shows are not about horsemanship. They are about spending the money to play in the big leagues and sometimes getting it right. This is not to say that there are not good horsemen (and women) at this level! The focus is just not on the horses health and happiness as much as I would like it to be.

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                  • #10
                    Not quite sure what the OP is looking for here.

                    I show the local A circuit on a budget doing my own care. Not really the glitz & glamour of going to WEF & Devon & the Hampton Classic & Indoors that perhaps the OP is wanting to hear about?

                    Luckily I live between 2 large facilities that host AA shows as well as unrated shows. A show is a show--just depends what your goals are. The A shows tend to cost more, but depending on your class they might offer prize money so if you win maybe not so much cost. The A shows tend to be spread out over more days rather than just Sat/Sun. The A shows tend to attract the "bigger names" of horses & riders & trainers which is fun to see. The A shows will have the bigger name judges & course designers. The jumps are nicer than what you find at the unrated shows & the rings maintained better. The A shows will offer bigger classes (you won't find a $30K GP at the unrateds) which again is fun to spectate.
                    "I'm not crazy...my mother had me tested"

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by For the Horse View Post
                      I have mostly just played at the local level. I have however dabbled into the "A"s on occasion. My take away is that the "A" shows are not about horsemanship. They are about spending the money to play in the big leagues and sometimes getting it right. This is not to say that there are not good horsemen (and women) at this level! The focus is just not on the horses health and happiness as much as I would like it to be.
                      Not a fair evaluation. The time for focusing on horsey health and happiness is not at the in-gate. The A Circuit goes much farther beyond what you see at the ring, and 9 times out of 10 the thought put into the horse's health, comfort and soundness will far exceed that which you see at the local levels. It's just done and taken care of before the horse ever steps foot on the show grounds.
                      EHJ | FB | #140 | watch | #insta

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by For the Horse View Post
                        I have mostly just played at the local level. I have however dabbled into the "A"s on occasion. My take away is that the "A" shows are not about horsemanship. They are about spending the money to play in the big leagues and sometimes getting it right. This is not to say that there are not good horsemen (and women) at this level! The focus is just not on the horses health and happiness as much as I would like it to be.
                        There are just as many bad local level trainers as there are bad A circuit trainers. I'd hazard to say more, actually, because local level trainers aren't under the sort of scrutiny and publicity as the upper level trainers are. And since you, by your own admission, haven't done much on the A circuit, perhaps you should wait until you have a little more information before you decide that the focus isn't on the "health and happiness of the horse."

                        Showing is an unnatural environment no matter where you show or at what level, and I've personally seen more mis-management at local level shows than at A shows. There are people who show many many weeks a year at the local level. I've seen them go in 15 classes a day and never get off their horse. There are people who show many many weeks a year at the A level, and their horses go in 2-3 classes a day and have impeccable care between days and between shows.

                        But now I deserve a slap on the wrist because I've jumped to conclusions based on the limited experiences I've had at the local level. Just like you did with the A circuit.
                        Originally posted by tidy rabbit
                        Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community.

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                        • #13
                          Hay

                          Poking my head in here, I used to groom on the A-circuit when I was in high school. And, that was fun!

                          You could sneak into the exhibitor parties, sneak free food from the food tents because your boss didn't pay you enough and the ladies at the tents allowed it, be cool with your last minute dust rag hanging out of your back pocket and your can (at that time) motor oil to paint their feet before entering the ring...(I know, I know about the motor oil but everyone did it back then. We all had a coffee can with a homemade wire handle and a paint brush inside. It wasn't a good thing! Maybe they still do that now?)

                          This was all in 1979. We did Mt. Snow, Stoneleigh Burnham was that Mason Phelps, and a ton of others that I can't remember the names. Jack Rockwell of The Hill (now Old Salem) was my boss and he had this snarly trailer that he had all of us sleeping in.

                          Lots of big time actors brought their kids to show and we saw Paul Newman, Charles Bronson and a few others that I can't remember.

                          I was actually the groom the owners requested so that was a nice feather in my cap at the time...
                          Sorry! But that barn smell is my aromatherapy!
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by For the Horse View Post
                            I have mostly just played at the local level. I have however dabbled into the "A"s on occasion. My take away is that the "A" shows are not about horsemanship. They are about spending the money to play in the big leagues and sometimes getting it right. This is not to say that there are not good horsemen (and women) at this level! The focus is just not on the horses health and happiness as much as I would like it to be.
                            I dont believe it is fair to say this. I used to do mainly A shows just about once a month, but now with the economy my parents and I decided it would be best to stay with the unrated shows or B and c shows and schooling shows that have marshall and sterling classes so I can focus on qualifying and we can stay witihin our budget. Just like dags said the horses are done at home not at at the in-gate. They look in such tip top shape because of all the work that is put into them. I personally groom my horse everyday and put hours of work into her, as do many others I know who show on the A circut. As far as im concerned doing both local shows A shows B shows C shows, a show is a show, you have people that do it halfass at schooling shows and you have people that do it halfass at AA shows. Then you have people who do it top notch at both, so it isnt really fair to classify and steriotype people that show on the A circut as people who are rich and snobby and dont take care of their horses.

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                            • #15
                              In my experience, the care provided to horses that show on the A circuit far exceeds that which is provided to the majority of horses in other situations.

                              They are very meticulously looked after as a rule, with regular attention from a variety of top notch professionals. Their feed, exercise and grooming routines are usually first class; they are attended to by very competent farriers, vets, massage therapists etc as a matter of course. You don't just "feed the quarters" into them to get them looking as shiny and gorgeous as most of them are at the top levels, and although there are always a few bad apples in the bunch (detailed in the penalties section of Equestrian magazine) the great majority of the horses succeeding at the A shows got there through lots and lots of hours of diligent practice and effort.

                              I've posted a pic of my young horse who "lives on the A circuit," (without me, I might add, since I have to work hard at my regular full time job to afford him.) I got him as a three year old and he's been under saddle for a little more than a year now; he has had very, very good prizes in the pre-greens at WEF this year, including a second against a huge class (60+) of the nicest youngsters in the country.

                              He lives in my trainer's backyard when he's not showing. Yes, a regular backyard... there is a small barn, a small ring, and a small paddock area behind his ranch-style home, I doubt it is more than a couple of acres total. There is a working student and a part time person who helps with the stalls, and my trainer does the rest of the work himself. Not exactly the high powered set up that folks like cbiscuit and for the horse seem to imply is the rule. And there are lots more set ups like that one than there are big fancy barns where you can just "write a big check."
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                              **********
                              We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
                              -PaulaEdwina

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by ExJumper View Post
                                There are people who show many many weeks a year at the local level. I've seen them go in 15 classes a day and never get off their horse. \

                                But now I deserve a slap on the wrist because I've jumped to conclusions based on the limited experiences I've had at the local level. Just like you did with the A circuit.
                                Definitely not jumping to conclusions. There is a girl on the local circuit here that goes in 44 classes over two days. Yes, 22 classes on Saturday, and 22 classes on Sunday. Classes from the 2ft jumpers to the 2'6 hunters and everything in between. She was the lucky winner of the year end award for the most points.

                                I think you see bad horsemanship no matter where you go. Plenty of it in backyards (just check out youtube), plenty of it at the biggest shows, and plenty of it in between. Hope this doesn't turn into a train wreck about how horrible "A" shows are.
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                                • #17
                                  Conversely, I don't think its fair to assume that local-show people don't put the same thought, effort or time into their horses' care as does a pro trainer and grooms.

                                  That's not true for me. In fact, I choose to show my horse locally in part because it works better for him to not spend weeks on the road living in tents and with no T/O to speak of.

                                  This horse has the best of both worlds-- care management and riding that's every bit as careful as what you would expect at a top barn, but none of the pressure or consequences of being asked to stay competitive at the very top.

                                  That having been said, I acquired the skills and standards of A-barns by working for them back in the day. If you have a chance to become a working student or groom, take it.
                                  The armchair saddler
                                  Politically Pro-Cat

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by mvp View Post
                                    Conversely, I don't think its fair to assume that local-show people don't put the same thought, effort or time into their horses' care as does a pro trainer and grooms.

                                    That's not true for me. In fact, I choose to show my horse locally in part because it works better for him to not spend weeks on the road living in tents and with no T/O to speak of. . . .

                                    That having been said, I acquired the skills and standards of A-barns by working for them back in the day. If you have a chance to become a working student or groom, take it.
                                    If you mean the "same" by virtue of ratio, then you are correct. If you mean the same quantitatively, then possibly not. It doesn't make any one lesser or greater than the other, but it is precisely because of the circumstances an A show horse must live in that they receive the tippest/toppest/bestest care an equine could ever dream of. What would be above and beyond care for a C circuit horse is essential for the health and happiness of an A circuit horse, tools you have taken down to a more local level and I'm sure they are all better off for it The best of both of these worlds should provide for their mount's every need, I don't think anyone was assuming otherwise besides the first 'no health and happiness on the A circuit' poster.
                                    EHJ | FB | #140 | watch | #insta

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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by dags View Post
                                      The A Circuit goes much farther beyond what you see at the ring, and 9 times out of 10 the thought put into the horse's health, comfort and soundness will far exceed that which you see at the local levels.
                                      A gross generalization. Have you ever heard of a show horse being electrocuted for the insurance money on the "local level"? Seen a horse being hit with a tack pole or shot up with Bute before every class on the "local level"?

                                      What's it like being on the A Circuit? It's like attending a lot of very big, sometimes very glamorous, horse shows. Most of the people are wonderful, some are not, just like at any horse show.
                                      "Go on, Bill — this is no place for a pony."

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by InWhyCee Redux View Post
                                        A gross generalization. Have you ever heard of a show horse being electrocuted for the insurance money on the "local level"? Seen a horse being hit with a tack pole or shot up with Bute before every class on the "local level"?

                                        What's it like being on the A Circuit? It's like attending a lot of very big, sometimes very glamorous, horse shows. Most of the people are wonderful, some are not, just like at any horse show.
                                        Only expensive horses would be worth insurance fraud. And it's by showing and being successful on the A circuit that horses increase or maintain their value. So that's not really a fair comparison.

                                        And I've seen WAY more illegal training practices and ESPECIALLY drug infractions happen at local shows. Unrated shows don't have drug tests or stewards and lower rated shows are a lot easier to drug your horse at.

                                        Whether you agree with a horse being on "The Circuit" or not, you can't really argue with the fact that the horses that ARE on the circuit get (for the most part) very very good care. If they didn't, they wouldn't last long, and where's the value in that?
                                        Originally posted by tidy rabbit
                                        Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community.

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