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So we are going to be holding a Benefit Show for the rescue we're associated with at my barn. We're planning the show for either May 16 or May 23. But my barn owner has put me in charge of organizing the entire show! Apparently im her favorite and she thinks I can do it and pull off a wonderful show!! The only thing is I have never organized a show before. And I have in mind what I need to do, but it's all kind of just a jumble in my head! I would really love some ideas, advice, anything!!

Some Facts about the barn:
2 arenas - indoor and outdoor
have a mix of english and western riders
Have a full jump course (but the jumps need to be painted)
Large heated lounge with viewing windows of the indoor
Second floor viewing room that needs to be completed
we have a judges stand next to the outdoor

Things I need to Do:
-Decide if we should do open english or english and western
-Find a judge or judges
-Get volunteers to help
-Finish the second floor viewing room
-Make a prize/class list
-Order ribbons
-paint jumps
-make jump courses
-Set entry fees
-Figure out food
-Think of a good name for the show
-Set up a PA system

Anything else please feel free to let me know! Any help or advice from people would be greatly appreciated! This show is for a wonderful cause! And I would really like it to go well!

All proceeds from this show will be donated to a local equine rescue called Equine Rescue Resource. You can find information about the rescue at Equine Rescue Resource, Inc. Welcome! Thank you in advance for any advice!

1,903 Posts
Breathe :)

First off, I would not plan to have classes running in both rings. If it ended up raining the day of the show and you only had the indoor available you would be between a rock and a hard place, and possibly end up having to refund money. I would have the show in the indoor and warmup can be in the outdoor.

To appeal to both the english and western crowds you could offer english classes in the morning and western classes in the afternoon, after a lunch break or something. On the schedule you could put "afternoon classes not to start before 1:00pm" that way people know when they should get there.

I'm assuming it's going to be a hunter-type schooling show for the english people. Western... idk, like a showmanship? horsemanship? pleasure? thing (haha, I don't ride western). Call up other local showing assoiations to see who they use for judging, maybe you could work out a deal with the judge - see if they'll judge for a reduced cost or totally volunteer their services since it's a benefit show.

Volunteers can be found anywhere :) Try to recruit people from your barn, make it worth their while - "volunteer for 4 hours and get 1/2 off your next lesson". You can also use horse show moms and dads for the easier jobs ;)

Class list - work with the judge to see what they prefer to judge. Most smaller schooling show have jump courses from ground poles up to 2'6", maybe 3'. You can raise the jump height 6" each division.

Advertise - put flyers in the local feed/tack stores. If there is a regional horse magazine/newsletter run a small ad or atleast have it put on the calendar of events, which is often free to do.

Make entry fees affordable, but only set them after you figure out how much you're going to have to spend for the judge, food, ribbons, etc. The shows around here range from 6-20 dollars a class.

For food all you really need is water, soda and some type of gatorade type drink. Chips, nachos, hotdogs and burgers... you know, horse show food ;) Grab a barn dad to man the grill and you'll be fine!

For ribbons check out Horse Show Awards, Corporate Awards, Recognition Awards - Hodges Badge Company, great, affordable selection. Check out their "horse show in a box" too, might be something you can use :)

Goood luck!

12,825 Posts
That time of year I would for sure not plan on using both rings at once. Too much risk of rain.

A great place to start is to look around at other local show series in your area that get a good turn out.

Most areas have a combo English/Western show series. Get a prize list for that and see what they offer.
If you are thinking of offering prize money in certain classes, protect the barn by saying payback only happens if 10 entries or more or something like that. Prize money does tend to get more entries though. So does good awards. They may not bring out more people this year but next year people will come because they heard about the good awards given this year. Since it is a benefit show you can call around to businesses and have them sponsor classes.

I will say that trail class is always fun for even those who normally do not do things like that.

3,221 Posts
The biggest thing I think in this scenario is figuring out the layout of where everything will go best, esp if you don't have shows regularly at your place. You'll want to focus on safety, parking, keeping things easily accessible but not creating traffic.

Do you have any idea on size on this show? If it's going to be big you may need both rings going at once (only will work if you have warm up areas for these rings). Esp if it'll run late and you don't have sufficient outdoor lighting for the ring. If it were to rain, even if everything was in the indoor would you still be able to have a show? 1) would attendance be high enough that it would be financially worthwhile (would it be better to have a rain date?) 2) is there parking available if it rains? (I know several barns -that park trailers on grass- that get rained out b/c the trailers can't get in or out of the mud, NOT b/c the rings are too wet

This is about the schedule I'd do-

Figure out what will go where
Create your Prizelist
Make sure you have an entry form with a good liability clause in there
Get your barn ready
Find a judge
Find a PA system that will be available
Order ribbons (can take MONTHS to come in)
Advertise advertise advertise (tack shops, other barns, forums, websites, local show organizations etlc etc)

Send out prize lists
advertise and remind
Get all your volunteers (office secretary, food guy -find out if they need a food handers permit, gate person, etc)

Paint jumps
Do a trial run with the PA system
Design the course
Set the course
Make sure your volunteers are still able

Set up PA system
Make sure you have copies of the course to hang, for judge, extras, etc
Organize ribbons and prizes so they're easy to hand out
Set up tables/clipboards for judge

Good luck! I'm a little surprised your trainer put this all in your hands! Managing a show is A LOT of work. We hire professional show managers to do all of this stuff for us, and it's still a lot of work! Stay on top of everything, be as prepared as possible, delegate as much as you can to responsible people, and you should be just fine. Don't forget to have a little fun in the process. ;)

374 Posts
Maybe you should call Nina and get some show ideas from her?..

I remember showing at your barn many years ago...I think the show should be inside and use the outdoor for schooling. Can people rent out stalls too?

212 Posts
That is so excited and terrifying at the same time I bet! I actually really want to start my own horse show management company. I would LOVE to do this all the time!!!! Hahaha. Well good luck! It looks like everyone here gave you pretty much all the info you'll need! :)

5,184 Posts
Make sure you check with your barn's insurance and have all you liability covered!! The last thing you want is for something to happen and you or your barn to get sued.
First of all I would register the show with whatever local clubs you need to to get insurance coverage.
Then, find a judge or multiple judges.
Get your office staff together. Good office people, whippers in, etc are priceless! make sure everyone knows their jobs.
Get the basics rented or bought. All the fences and other equipment needed, a truck and trailer for hauling in/out of the arena and guys to load the stuff and be jump crews. Walky-talkies are indispensable! Make sure you have enough pens, pencils, clipboards etc.. for all volunteers. A PA system can also be useful. Chairs or other spectator seating is needed. A well staffed concession stand will be needed.
Order Ribbons.
Talk to local tack shops about donating prizes, or buy small prizes. Determine what the classes and prizes are, and all the costs. Generate a prize list. Know what your "break even" or "target" number of entries is, set class prices to reflect this.
Send out the dates and prize list to everyone!!
Make a "show program" and at the day of the show make sure you have class lists of all the riders. It is helpful to have a computer, printer and a program that can organize and print this for you. Make sure the judges have class lists, and the whippers in.
Keep all the money and entries in order!! You will need a large binder and a hole punch and lots of staples!!
It is very helpful to have someone around that can help you out.
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