|Cheryle and trusty steed, Karison|
by Cheryle Oshman Blunt
Two years ago, my favorite part of my job at Straight Forward Dressage was planning and running our schooling shows. Sure, show day could be rather busy, and no matter how early I arrived, there was still never enough time to feel truly ready before the first trailer would pull in. But still, the mechanics of running a show appealed to me.
My goal, as show secretary, was simple -- create a fun, relaxed event for the participants. For me, that meant two things. First, being super-organized. I tried to think about anything that could happen, then tried to have a plan, knowing that a plan would help people feel secure. Of course, we were still caught by surprise occasionally, like when the judge's tent blew over, but we even recovered from that pretty quickly.
Second, making everyone feel welcome. My volunteers and I would greet each rider with a smile. And I found that the more we smiled and wished them a good ride, the more I could see our competitors relax and enjoy themselves.
After a couple of shows, we started to get more relaxed ourselves. We started coming up with new, fun ideas for prizes. Ange came up with the idea of the excellence pins, and many of us started dreaming of baseball caps and show coats festooned with lots of little dressage pins. I brought crazy party hats to one show as a silly prize for highest score at each level. We ordered slightly silly ribbons.
The best part was that we had a lot of riders who came back over and over, and they changed from riders to friends. That year, I really enjoyed the OVCTA awards banquet because I knew so many people from our shows. Our shows had some momentum!
Then we moved. Twice. Moving is time-consuming and it zaps your energy. It takes time to settle in and get to know your new home. Many people asked us if we’d be hosting shows that first year, but before we could even truly answer that question, we were in the midst of the second move. If you’ve been keeping up with Ange’s blog, you’ll know that we spent the last calendar year assessing and tweaking our current home. And then a few weeks ago, Ange asked if I’d like to plan a couple of shows for this season. It seems we’re ready.
And I can’t wait. I’m hoping I’ll get to see many returning friends. I’m also hoping for some new faces – both human and equine. My fingers are itching to start putting together a day sheet and calculating scores. I’m contacting judges and editing prize lists. I’ve pulled out my old folders, and checked to see if I have dressage-test sized paper. I’m wondering what new prizes we might offer this year. Excitement! The fun begins on August 25th.