Monday, July 7, 2008

Event Organizers: We NEED your help!

Posted to the comments on the thread about the starving horses in Wisconsin:

"I know the chic in Wi. I've seen her kids at 4-h events. One driving clinic they were so bad that they were pulled into the center becaues they didn't have enough energy to do the required manuvers. the 2 i saw at Stoughton Fair last weekend have gained weight, but are still increadibly skinny And badly behaved."

OK. What is wrong with you 4-H event organizers that you are not throwing her off the grounds due to the horses' condition? If she suffered a little public humiliation, it might get through the concrete surrounding her head that she needs to downsize so that she can afford to feed the remaining horses appropriately.

I have run shows, and I have excused people for inappropriate condition and for lack of control leading to a hazard for others. I have seen people excused for whip marks, spur tracks, bloody mouth, etc. and I applaud the show managers/ring stewards/judges who had the guts to do that. I blogged before about the horse on the left - the judge very responsibly knocked the kid out of the ribbons for the horse's condition and the kid was pouting online because it was a school horse so it wasn't her faaaaaault (Hey, you got on it, honey - that makes you an accomplice to the abuse). I later received an e-mail stating that the horse had died shortly thereafter. Sad - and I am sure, avoidable!

No, it doesn't always make you popular when you take a stand. At a show last year, someone brought their two year old stallion out to show in a plain halter with no chain. They had zero control. The horse laid down and rolled in the show ring. I was ring stewarding. I excused them. They thought I was a bitch. Made some snarly mutterings at me. Okay, fine. But if you can't keep him from rolling, I doubt you can keep him from mounting a mare and I'm not about to wait and see if that happens.

If you run a show or an event, it's YOUR JOB to make these judgment calls and have a spine about it! You have the power to show people what is and is not acceptable. A little public humiliation will work wonders. Mary may remain clueless forever but perhaps Mary's kids will be embarrassed and learn from the experience and not grow up to be lousy horseowners like their mother. PLEASE take a stand! PLEASE!

Now let's talk about this: What have you excused horses/riders for doing in the ring? Are there certain exhibitors in your area who always bring out horses who are lame, skinny, etc. and expect to get away with it? Are they shocked and surprised when someone sends their ass home?

If you've managed a lot of shows and events, any tips for dealing with these people? My big one is: Don't get into a debate. Keep it simple. You're being excused due to X and if you have an issue with that, you can take it up with me after the show or call me tomorrow. Most show flyers say that the decisions of management are final - if yours doesn't, put it there so you can point to it when you get an argumentative type.

We can't control the world, but when you are running a show or event, you DO control that. Don't be afraid to exercise that control - as long as you are fair and consistent.