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QH Congress: How to go-- Update-- I'm coming! 21st-24th..P. 3

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  • QH Congress: How to go-- Update-- I'm coming! 21st-24th..P. 3

    This is on my bucket list. I want to put it on my momma's bucket list, and that means that if I attempt to bring her to this epic event, I had better know how to see and do the best of it.

    How do you get the most joy out of Congress?
    Last edited by mvp; Oct. 11, 2012, 11:25 AM.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat

  • #2
    If you are going as a spectator, the freestyle reining is really your best bet. Very crowd friendly, as opposed to many of the other signature events that are more exhibitor friendly.

    Only two emotions belong in the saddle: One is a sense of humor. The other is patience.


    • #3
      It really depends on what you want to see and do.

      The first week of the congress is the reining and cow horse events. Most vendors are present but not all of them. There are not any impressive vendor sales unless what they're selling pertains to only the cow horse events.

      The second week is when the Western Pleasure, Hunter Under Saddle, Fence, Eq, Horsemanship, Showmanship classess start. All of the vendors are present during this time - some are offering sales specials. The puppy pavillion is in full force and some of the specialty classes are held and the Congress Super Sale horse auction is held

      The final week is when the Masters classes take place and many of the finals and futurities. The vendors all have sales and most of the puppies are already sold .

      Its a blast - plan to stay at least 4 days. And becareful about which hotels you stay at both for safety and bedbugs!


      • #4
        Check out the online schedule before you go. Many people miss it, but Congress has a full complement of lectures on nutrition and horse development as well as live demonstrations.

        This year, it's killing me that I'm going to miss Dr. Ann Rashmir-Raven's lecture on managing infectious and allergic skin diseases.

        I WILL be catching Chubby Turner's cutting demonstration and checking out the Ride a Reiner program that the NRHA is putting on.

        I think those are the hidden gems of the show, but I also enjoy the candy tent and eating my way through all the fair food vendors


        • #5
          Originally posted by mvp View Post
          How do you get the most joy out of Congress?
          Take lots of money...


          • #6
            Buy the expensive parking pass and park on top of the Gilligan Barn, the furthest enterance to the West on the North side. Totally worth the cost. Plan to camp by the big warm up ring and just watch - you will see the good and the bad, but some amazing horses. For what you asked in your other thread, plan to watch the western riding or the trail. You will see some very broke and nice horses in the senior divisions of those.
            Plan to watch classes on the weekend and shop during the weekdays if you can, as it can get very crowded in the buildings. Take lots of snacks in a pack and only buy meal food on the grounds, as all food is very expensive. There is some really good non-typical horse show food there.

            Plan to take clothing in layers and closely watch weather reports. If you do not have a hotel by now, better check into that before making plans.
            Comprehensive Equestrian Site Planning and Facility Design


            • #7
              Personally, I avoid the puppy tent at all costs. It's just a marketplace for local "small scale" puppy mills to sell their wares to all of the rich cowgirls who want an "accessory" to carry around during the show.

              October 12-13, the PBR is also in town (downtown Columbus), so if you're looking for something else to do in the area on those days it's a good bet. It's the last regular competition before Finals, and a really good time.

              As for Congress, bring lots of money and a shopping list for things you know you need. Otherwise you may just end up browsing and browsing. . .
              Please copy and paste this to your signature if you know someone, or have been affected by someone who needs a smack upside the head. Lets raise awareness.


              • #8
                Lots of great advice given already. Ditto the "go to the reining" advice, and be prepared to buy those tickets early because they usually sell out. Budget for the obnoxious parking rates, which are usually in the neighborhood of $25 per vehicle or $70 for the whole event.

                Don't obsess about getting a hotel super close by. The state fairgrounds isn't in a great district, and many of the closest hotels are a little iffy. There are dozens of good hotel districts in Columbus, but only a few choice gems near the convention center.

                If you decide to take a day (or a few hours) off from Congres, don't leave this town without trying nationally ranked Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams (www.jenis.com). Other attractions to consider:

                Columbus Zoo - It was one of Jack Hanna's pet projects, and it shows in the awesome visitor experience. In late October, they have Boo at the Zoo events for Halloween that are fun.

                COSI - a fabulous science museum for kids, if you're into that kind of thing.

                Whetstone Park of Roses - the largest municipal rose garden in the US at approximately 13 acres. There are still roses in early October, but by late October they're usually gone.
                Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/


                • #9
                  Do take along spending money, even if you go the first week to catch Freestyle Reining. There are some vendors set up for sure, and there is all that food. Have your flu shots; they call it Congress Crud...there are so many people, so of course there are a lot of viruses out there.

                  Don't book your hotel without checking with the National Bedbug Registry, there are reports every single year about people getting them in the greater Columbus area. When booking your hotel, look at those a bit outside the immediate I-70 corridor, there have been some shootings & rapes, etc. during Congress the past couple of years.

                  If you are at all interested in seeing the Freestyle Reining, I highly suggest ordering your tickets ASAP. We've had ours a few weeks now & they do tend to sell out very quickly. Do bring layers of clothing as others stated, you just never know when it's going to change conditions.

                  Have fun! If you go after the end of the 1st week, they will be at the point that all the vendors are up & running, the barns will have the displays & such for the big farms, and you can usually bag as much candy as a good Trick-or-Treat night from all their offerings which is fun.
                  "Life's a bleach and then you dye"
                  "Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet." Roger Miller


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by jn4jenny View Post
                    Lots of great advice given already..... Budget for the obnoxious parking rates, which are usually in the neighborhood of $25 per vehicle or $70 for the whole event.
                    Sounds $$$ but the parking pass includes admission to the whole show for everyone in the car, except the few ticketed events like the Freestyle and Masters Pleasure.

                    If you are worried about Bedbugs, put your clothes in the dryer on high when you return home and it will kill them.

                    Re all the 'take money' advice....because of that , Congress is Christmas for theives and pick pockets. Watch your purse.
                    Comprehensive Equestrian Site Planning and Facility Design


                    • Original Poster

                      Thank you very much for the advice--- all of it.

                      My mom is a good sport, but if we go, I'll just "manage" the vermin and safety issues quietly.

                      I'd like my mom to count as "the money" that I'd bring, but she's too smart for that. And yes, I want to go shopping.

                      Are the rings really open for schooling 24/7? Do you ever see some exceptional trainers doing their thing late at night there? I always like to see how the pros do what they do in addition to the smoothed out performance.
                      The armchair saddler
                      Politically Pro-Cat


                      • #12
                        One late night as I was walking to my car, I passed by the Beef Barn's little indoor arena space and found many of the leading trail horse trainers out schooling with Tim Kimura setting obstacles for them, and all having a good time.

                        I pulled up a bucket and sat and watched for an hour or more.

                        Yes the show pens are open for schooling and busy all night.
                        Comprehensive Equestrian Site Planning and Facility Design


                        • #13
                          The truck and trailer show is one of the best you will ever see. I do mean the one's driven there .

                          Keep your money in your front pockets, small bills on one side, large on the other, so you are not pulling out a huge wad .

                          Day tripping this year for shopping, more than seeing. But the Hamption by the airport is nice, it is clean, and has a good breakfast.

                          FMO:OMG I almost put my eye out hunting clique.


                          • #14
                            I would suggest at least 3 days;one to gawk, one to shop, and one to just sit and watch the horses. I think the parking pass that gets you onto the show grounds is 75$ and the daily pass is $25 (no in and out privileges).
                            You must have something from the Sweet Shop. The cinnamon roles are fabulous, but they also make a yummy Italian sub! If you are interested in cocktails, it is quite easy to find a place that serves them in either the Celeste Center (one of the show rings) or Congress Hall (the big shopping venue).
                            Walk through the Gilligan Building to see the amazing stall decorations. Unfortunately (or fortunately for the people of Dixon), you won't be able to see Rita Crundwell's spread, but I am sure something will take its place.
                            Yes, they do school 24/7 as that is the only way to get into the show rings. The work schedule for Celeste usually goes something like this : from 1 hr after the show until 3 am- western horses; from 3-6 am english horses (or what have you). So if you train or ride both, you are up all night.

                            It is a great show. The weather can be capricious in Ohio- but there are usually several glorious fall days, some Indian summer days, and occasionally some snow!

                            Do go,it is a great experience.


                            • #15
                              And don't forget to report back and tell us what you did!


                              • #16
                                I second going to see freestyle reining and making it a three day event. I usually go to watch a couple classes and clinics but I wait until the last week to shop. You can find your best deals on the last day. I only bring $100 cash and buy everything else with a credit card. If you need more cash there are ATM machines all over the grounds.


                                • #17
                                  Love Congress

                                  I've gone to Congress as a spectator for about 20 years now. I live only an hour away. A few things that may not have been mentioned:

                                  Wear the most comfortable shoes you own, even if they are ugly.

                                  Put your purchases in the trunk and not out where it can be seen through the car/truck window. This includes your GPS.

                                  Even if you are on a limited budget, you must rent a golf cart for a day, multiple days are better. Drive that golf cart out through all the remote parking areas and campgrounds and have fun looking at all the great rigs and RVs, and all the license plates from all over the world. Take the cart out to the more remote stabling areas and chat with the great people out there. Take the cart to all the practice rings, including the lounging rings tucked away in various locations. Don't waste money renting a cart on Super Sale day. It's wall to wall people that day. That is the best day to sit and watch the sale, and sit and watch the classes in the arenas, as it's impossible to shop and move around that day. If you rent a cart, go to the vendor to get one before 9am when the line gets really long.

                                  The best sales start around noon on the very last day. Shops are crowded, but some good sales. If you need barn items, like buckets, heated buckets, gates, latches, round pens, I recommend the Cashman's shop. They do not mark anything up just because it's Congress, and offer sell items at a lower price than in their retail store. I buy all the equipment I need over the course of the year from Cashman's during Congress.

                                  Be sure to find stallion alley too. Unfortunately it's getting smaller and smaller every year. But there is no better opportunity to get right up close to some truly breath-taking stallions in amazing show condition.

                                  Have fun. You can't possibly see everything in a few days, but Congress will be there for many years to come. I guarantee you'll want to go again.
                                  The Willows Welsh Mountain Ponies


                                  • #18
                                    FYI - Stallion Alley was removed last year. There are some farms that have booths, but no designated place like that anymore.
                                    Only two emotions belong in the saddle: One is a sense of humor. The other is patience.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Thank you all for the advice.

                                      Holy cow, you need a golf cart to get around? How many acres of ground does this show cover?

                                      It sounds like the best newbie-spectator events and the best shopping days are separated by many days at this show. It takes more than one day to see this show?

                                      If you were my travel agent (remembering that my gentle momma is in tow):

                                      How many days at Congress are needed?

                                      You'd rent the golf cart on Day 1 so as to get the lay of the land?

                                      Would you put the Competition Watching Day first, and the "see the shops... see the rigs that you you can't buy" later?

                                      Perhaps, too, you need a native tour guide to take you on the Night Tour of the behind-the-scenes schooling.

                                      No need for warning about the puppy tend. My mom is way to smart for that. If they had a cat tent, however, things would be different.
                                      The armchair saddler
                                      Politically Pro-Cat


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by mvp View Post

                                        No need for warning about the puppy tend. My mom is way to smart for that. If they had a cat tent, however, things would be different.
                                        They had cats in there one year.

                                        Some lady was selling these "rare Russian" cats for $$$. Can't recall the actual price, but somewhere in the area of $1000 or more.

                                        For a cat.

                                        I don't know if they were naturally very laid back, or if she sedated them, but whenever she picked one up it just looked really limp and "floppy." My friends and I still refer to them as the Russian Boneless Cats.

                                        If there are events you know you want to see, check the schedules and mark those in advance. Unless it's a really popular event, like freestyle reining, you probably won't have too much trouble finding a place to sit and watch.

                                        When you're not watching the horses, you can spend the rest of the day sightseeing/shopping/browsing, wandering the barn aisles, and watching the warm-up ring.

                                        Some of the trailers are really worth a walk-through and most of the salesmen are friendly without being too bothersome about trying to sell (unless you actually express interest in buying).
                                        Please copy and paste this to your signature if you know someone, or have been affected by someone who needs a smack upside the head. Lets raise awareness.