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How to bring the fun and special traditions back to showing? Back in the dayers ..??

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  • How to bring the fun and special traditions back to showing? Back in the dayers ..??

    I wish more shows could be like the old Indios, Monterey, Cow Palace, Forum Shows of the past. The marathon circuits today just don't offer the social, the specialness of showing anymore. (I am a kid of the 70s and 80s when the shows did still have a lot of tradition and flair).

    Why can't the managers and people involved start bringing back some tradition to the sport again. Now that the economy is down, and people are really choosing what shows they want to do... maybe now is the time to do it.

    When I was living in Middleburg, I honestly loved how special Upperville and Devon still seem to be. People really love these shows. For me Upperville is such an event, the fair feel, the social parts, and all of the traditions. I love that show as a spectator, as a participant. It's wonderful. It's so rare now a days.

    Why can't we bring this back to the Hunter Jumper ring again? Why does it have to be 8 rings going for 6 weeks in a row? A lot of people I know are burnt out, tired of the marathons. People are cutting back and really wishing the shows could really be more for the money they spend.

    If we consolidated it, and made shows that really count in every way, the numbers would probably be there again, the specialness would be back.

    I would love to hear ideas on this, or thoughts. I know the big money has made the shows what they are today.. but honestly is anybody really enjoying them anymore? For those that never experienced the old shows, they were really something. They had fun events, fun classes, traditional classes, sometimes costume classes.. social events etc. It was so fun.

    Just a few thoughts here... after watching things over the past couple of decades.. I am just reflecting.

    Talk about some old shows you guys remember that were fun.. what made them a yearly event for you?
    One of a Kind Studio
    Fine Art Paintings, Horses, Dogs, Wildlife and anything else that inspires.

    New convert to the cow horse world.. love my QH mare.

  • #2
    The Golden Age

    It's all about money, Baby. Those shows used to be (in CA) put on by the agricultural districts to showcase horses in each area... they were supposed to not be a huge financial hole, but they didn't have to make piles of money.

    Del Mar was a summer showcase of many breeds and disciplines, a vacation, a beach party... the fair circuit (which I had the great pleasure to enjoy with both a hunter and a trail horse over the years) was the golden age and golden chain of west-coast horse shows. We won't see that again.

    There don't seem to be many Jimmy Williams' on the horizon. No more Michelle McFarlane's showing parade horses, no Ronnie Richards' stock horses sliding to fame, no more balmy nights with an equine variety show of classes which held the attention of every horse-mad little girl who conned her family into leaving the midway to go watch the evening horse show performance.

    There's also no single publication that captures the fun, the wins, and the backstage drama and fun of the whole shebang, either. Horses Magazine created a community, then gossiped about it. "Betwixt the stirrup, and the ground, mercy I asked for and mercy I found" captioned the big name trainers as they flew a** over teakettle off a famous horse.

    There were trainer shenanigans, but there were horsemen who could show in ANY division with skill, too. Hap Hansen riding saddleseat. Kids showing in the Barbara Worth medal at 4'. Hot Thoroughbreds that saw the track again at Del Mar and came completely untrained. Legendary barn aisle parties, and a complete lack of lawsuits over things like weather, footing, stabling, and order of go. Harold and the Clark's semi trailer that had everything and could fix anything, from a hook stud rein to a pair of bell boots or a black fox-head Pytchley button.

    Show programs with our names up in lights, or so it seemed. Vans instead of trailers. Puissance classes. Good fair food, corndogs made while you watched and lemonade with lemons afloat. Busloads of students scuffing around the Cow Palace in the day, and bucking stock turned out on top of schooling pleasure horses at night.

    Now, private companies put on the shows for the most part, and the staff are paid pros. It's just a biz, although one we embraced until the party was over this year and we noticed that we had a severe hangover that was more than financial in origin. We all have indigestion from too rich a diet of warmbloods, too many Olympic-fueled home-schooled professional junior bluebloods, and an excess of imported jumpers shown by Polo-shirted riders sans Lord George's idea of a suitable period of humbling huntering and eq-ing.

    All that bitching about bad footing over the years has created a monster of uniformity where the same traveling circus of vendors, professional horsemen, show promoters, and support people just move from place to place. "If it's Tuesday, it must be Show Park" is the new show mantra.

    I wish the show pros would hire unemployed people, or even create cardboard fans, to fill all the empty seats in the background of seemingly every photo I look at from shows these days. A soundtrack of applause, and some tarnished thrift-store loving cups presented as perpetual trophies could fool us into thinking it was a real horse show again.

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

    Comment


    • #3
      Showing's "Industrial Revolution"

      As in other Industrial Revolutions, the changes are profound and very hard to reverse.

      It's great that horses, breeding programs and riding have improved to the point that ammies and kids can now buy horses with "auto changes" but that phenomenon represents some changes for the worse, too.

      Some people divide riding from training, but deliver great results to their paying clients who want to systematically win.

      Other modern clients who might be classified now as "do it yourself-ers" who made up their OTTBs more slowly and with less precision, are now priced out.

      In the 1990s, I watched people like this make the Menlo Circus Club summer show the highlight of their summer. It also made me sad to see them spend all that money and go into the ring utterly undermounted or underprepared to compete with the larger barns that lived on the circuit.

      We can find "special shows" but those might be well-run local shows. Those are really fun to attend and watch. If you can't get those experiences at big ever-lasting rated shows, then go look for the special dinky show. Sometimes these ones include ice cream socials, award ceremonies and outside courses-- all attractive features of yesteryear. When single competitors haul in themselves, they also tend to make friends with the people stabled or parked next to them. It's like the singles party of the horse showing world.
      The armchair saddler
      Politically Pro-Cat

      Comment


      • #4
        mvp - yup!
        Miss Motivation - you nailed it and in such a well written, poetic style!!!
        I also was a child of that era and those places.

        Ummnn - how many people that will read this have VOLUNTEERED to help at a horse show lately? Ever?
        Comprehensive Equestrian Site Planning and Facility Design
        www.lynnlongplanninganddesign.com

        Comment


        • #5
          I totally don't belong in this forum... just wandered in asking for tack advice, but you guys have nailed it.

          I grew up doing pony hunters, not unsuccessfully. But what I read about here that is called "pony hunters" is entirely foreign to me. I read every page of the current thread talking about everything I grew up with. Growing up in MA, between Boston & Providence, the west coast stuff has different names, but the fair circuts, the big names right alongside us poor kids with no trainers... that I recognize, and miss dearly.

          Miss Motivation, beautiful writing. Thank you.

          Unfortunately, dressage is heading the same way. The chasm between the haves and have-nots, whether we're talking having a trainer, an import, or the right clothes--is widening, and the show venues are becoming outrageously out of reach for the average joe.

          I'll slink back off to my own forums now... but this thread really struck a bittersweet nerve.
          InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

          Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)

          Comment


          • #6
            "There's also no single publication that captures the fun, the wins, and the backstage drama and fun of the whole shebang, either. Horses Magazine created a community, then gossiped about it. "Betwixt the stirrup, and the ground, mercy I asked for and mercy I found" captioned the big name trainers as they flew a** over teakettle off a famous horse."

            Sure there is, it's English and it's called, "Horse & Hound"...it has all that, gossip, breeding, humour, beautiful photography, funny photos and lots of stories of horses and riders, even full-page colour stories of "groom of the year" contests. Wish we had one here, but we don't. Amazing trailer and supply ads, color photos of horses for sale and a big forums section...and, it's a weekly. "http://www.horseandhound.co.uk"
            "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"

            Comment


            • #7
              So... why isn't the Chronicle "it"?

              and to answer the above question, I have volunteered for 3-4 shows every year for the past.. 5 or so?
              InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

              Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)

              Comment


              • #8
                When I was about 14 my parents took us up to CA to see the Royal Horseshow. The people we were staying with went in fur coats and tuxes, it was a BIG deal. Much pomp and circumstance if I remember correctly. Devon was much the same way when I was younger, many many people in dresses, big hats, and the boxes were FULL even on the days without a Grand Prix or big jumper class.
                It has changed, its really not the same. I too wish it would go back, chasing points and running from show to show is not financially sound.
                Kim
                If you are lucky enough to ride, you are lucky enough.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by pintopiaffe View Post
                  So... why isn't the Chronicle "it"?

                  and to answer the above question, I have volunteered for 3-4 shows every year for the past.. 5 or so?

                  Dressage and eventing people seem to do much better in the volunteering department.
                  Comprehensive Equestrian Site Planning and Facility Design
                  www.lynnlongplanninganddesign.com

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Miss Motivation View Post
                    It's all about money, Baby. Those shows used to be (in CA) put on by the agricultural districts to showcase horses in each area... they were supposed to not be a huge financial hole, but they didn't have to make piles of money.

                    Del Mar was a summer showcase of many breeds and disciplines, a vacation, a beach party... the fair circuit (which I had the great pleasure to enjoy with both a hunter and a trail horse over the years) was the golden age and golden chain of west-coast horse shows. We won't see that again.

                    There don't seem to be many Jimmy Williams' on the horizon. No more Michelle McFarlane's showing parade horses, no Ronnie Richards' stock horses sliding to fame, no more balmy nights with an equine variety show of classes which held the attention of every horse-mad little girl who conned her family into leaving the midway to go watch the evening horse show performance.

                    There's also no single publication that captures the fun, the wins, and the backstage drama and fun of the whole shebang, either. Horses Magazine created a community, then gossiped about it. "Betwixt the stirrup, and the ground, mercy I asked for and mercy I found" captioned the big name trainers as they flew a** over teakettle off a famous horse.

                    There were trainer shenanigans, but there were horsemen who could show in ANY division with skill, too. Hap Hansen riding saddleseat. Kids showing in the Barbara Worth medal at 4'. Hot Thoroughbreds that saw the track again at Del Mar and came completely untrained. Legendary barn aisle parties, and a complete lack of lawsuits over things like weather, footing, stabling, and order of go. Harold and the Clark's semi trailer that had everything and could fix anything, from a hook stud rein to a pair of bell boots or a black fox-head Pytchley button.

                    Show programs with our names up in lights, or so it seemed. Vans instead of trailers. Puissance classes. Good fair food, corndogs made while you watched and lemonade with lemons afloat. Busloads of students scuffing around the Cow Palace in the day, and bucking stock turned out on top of schooling pleasure horses at night.

                    Now, private companies put on the shows for the most part, and the staff are paid pros. It's just a biz, although one we embraced until the party was over this year and we noticed that we had a severe hangover that was more than financial in origin. We all have indigestion from too rich a diet of warmbloods, too many Olympic-fueled home-schooled professional junior bluebloods, and an excess of imported jumpers shown by Polo-shirted riders sans Lord George's idea of a suitable period of humbling huntering and eq-ing.

                    All that bitching about bad footing over the years has created a monster of uniformity where the same traveling circus of vendors, professional horsemen, show promoters, and support people just move from place to place. "If it's Tuesday, it must be Show Park" is the new show mantra.

                    I wish the show pros would hire unemployed people, or even create cardboard fans, to fill all the empty seats in the background of seemingly every photo I look at from shows these days. A soundtrack of applause, and some tarnished thrift-store loving cups presented as perpetual trophies could fool us into thinking it was a real horse show again.

                    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
                    This was very well said. I agree 100%.

                    Even if someone brought back just a handful of these shows again, started a new "old" tradition... it would be great.

                    I loved all the old barn aisle parties..., the programs, feeling like you mattered at the show. Now you are just an entry number it seems.

                    I don't think it necessarily means that it has to be an all breed show... Upperville is all H/J although it does have "traditional" hunting breed classes like Cleveland Bays and Irish Draught classes.

                    I know the modern circuits are all about money... but that's the problem.. now we don't have money. We need to feel that the money we do spend is for something special that means something. A show that the family can come spend the day and enjoy.. for all. Have different vendors or features that make it unique and special. That's all I am saying.
                    One of a Kind Studio
                    Fine Art Paintings, Horses, Dogs, Wildlife and anything else that inspires.

                    New convert to the cow horse world.. love my QH mare.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      i don't have any reminiscing to over (i am only 17) but i still find these threads interesting, as i find anything relating to horses and horse shows from a while ago. (i could seriously look at old pictures for hours admiring everything. and have.)

                      but i'd just like to say that i do think some shows do *try* to perk it up. heck, i don't have the money to go to HITS for more than a week per year, unless i wanted to forget about every other show (which i don't. HITS is fun, but i don't want to see that humidity for more than a week!) however i DO see an effort on the part of lots of larger shows (including HITS) to make social and fun events for adults as well as children. if you're part of the HITS e-mail list thingy, i get emails almost everyday with press releases and what not about their shows. some days it's who won this weeks GP's and big classes. other days it highlights some of the exhibitor events. and from the pictures and what i read of about these events, they do seem truly to be something fun that brings exhibitors together in the evening or during the day. and i recall that these were all free events, unless you wanted to "enter" for something (i remember there was a dog costume show held, and i think if you wanted to enter your dog you had to pay $10 or something, but to watch was free) but i think some of these are good steps. lots of BBQ's, cook outs, doggie classes (like said costume class, as well as doggy 6-bars, ive seen) and human classes, like a human 6 bar and human show jumping ive seen which is really actually fun to watch, and even more fun if you do it (well, i do it at home sometimes with friends if we're bored)

                      i'm afraid not every show in the country will be able to make the changes necessary to be more exhibitor-fun-friendly and what not, because lets face it, these days money is tougher and for a show to put on such festivities requires some extra money. a local series of ours has lots of barbeques year round and parties, as well as special classes and costume classes (in the fall, around halloween, for the costume ones)

                      the sussex county fair show still exists, though sadly it's true that the numbers are dwindling as far as exhibitor entries go. last year, some of the bigger divisions didn't even fill.

                      even so, i wouldn't say shows are just shows now. i still have lots of fun with friends at shows. sure, there isn't a ton to do at every little show we go to, but we ca hang out and watch the bigger jumpers and look at cute ponies, and it's enough fun. if you're with a good friend, you can always make fun out of a dull situation.

                      however, yes, i do agree that some shows have lost their appeal, ad they are "just" shows.

                      just my 2-cents
                      (|--Sarah--|)

                      Blitz <3 & Leap of Faith <3

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Plumcreek View Post
                        Dressage and eventing people seem to do much better in the volunteering department.
                        I'd imagine that is because they actually seek out volunteers.
                        Stoneybrook Farm Afton TN

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Well said, Miss Motivation.

                          Not that I have any answers, but it seems that many of the non-generic horse shows are annual charity deals. Altho they have often hired professional managers, there are enuf volunteers working various positions, along with special touches to make it not just another week at the office. For example, our barn attended the Las Amigas show las weekend. Among the amenities were 50# bags of carrots with hand-written note attached thanking each barn for coming to the show, a silent auction, tables in the shade so families could sit it some comfort at watch, and an actual program (tho not with exhibitor names listed). They even had a pretty decent audience at times. Yes there are issues with limited warmup and lunging areas and it's not a facility that's used super-regularly so some horses are a bit .
                          The Evil Chem Prof

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I know the modern circuits are all about money... but that's the problem.. now we don't have money. We need to feel that the money we do spend is for something special that means something. A show that the family can come spend the day and enjoy.. for all. Have different vendors or features that make it unique and special. That's all I am saying.
                            Well said.
                            InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs
                            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                            Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I think I would settle for pleasent managment and a real hunter course. Just a place where the wealthier people don't get most of the perks, like special tables and nicer food, and the fanciest horse wins the class every time (which a lot of the time they do, even if they DO get a lead change late, jump a fence funny, and are resistent to rider's aids down a line). Oh, and just one other thing: bad horsemanship isn't rewarded - no barn is exempt from drug testing.


                              BTW, this isn't coming from somebody with the non-typey horse that isn't a great mover. I've placed well in classes where I shouldn't have, and all the horses placed below me where the horses who wheren't acting up like my super green mare, but didn't have her conformation or her movement. But quite frankly, that's another thread all together; and one that's been discused many times before as well.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                I know that Upperville does have a committee dedicated to keeping it going, volunteers, local people. That probably is a key factor. It also is very important to the area to keep the show going. Its the oldest horse show in the country... and it's still going strong. I think if some of the other older venues were to respark and start something again, people would go. There are plenty of us that do remember the fun times and wish it were like this again.

                                There is an entire group on Facebook of Equestrians from Back in the Day. Dianne Grod started it along with Peggy Wolford. They have posted so many old wonderful photos of the old days. After going thru about 1000 photos, I said to myself.... why aren't the shows like this anymore? Why aren't the stands full? Why don't we have very many Puissance classes, special programs etc?

                                I remember the Old Monterey Show going til 1 am sometimes. WE LOVED IT. The stands were full. The puissance was so fun. Bionic Woman and Susie Hutchison were my favs..

                                Anyway.... maybe someday we can pull our bootstraps up and stop worring about making so much money and actually enjoy ourselves again. For me I would rather work to live than live to work... and the whole mentality of the marathon circuits is to work work work until everyone is dead tired. Is that fun?

                                Why not make a few good shows that are a refreshing fun change? How about bringing back side saddle, appointment classes, and teaching people how hunters even evolved into what they are today?

                                What about family classes, and hunter teams? I remember doing those at Santa Barbara and Santa Rosa many times. It was so fun.

                                Dusty circuits are not fun to watch. Pebble Beach does do a nice job with all the covered seating and tents but the stands are still empty for the most part.

                                Lets make it special again people. Make riding fun again! We work hard to do this.. many of us really put everything we have into it... why not make it fun in every respect?

                                At Upperville the Lead Line class is so fun! Do you know they have 2 sections there are so many kids? That is something. I love watching it every year.. and the Silver Fox class.

                                We need that again.

                                One of a Kind Studio
                                Fine Art Paintings, Horses, Dogs, Wildlife and anything else that inspires.

                                New convert to the cow horse world.. love my QH mare.

                                Comment

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