It does seem strange how some events are over-subscribed and some are not getting enough entries in 2009.
This question was posed this question on the Area 2 Adult Riders’ chat list....
“If you saw events that had lower priced entries (I'm talking recognized here) would it make a difference or are you choosing your recognized events for facility/courses, location? What is making you choose the events you choose? Are you more likely to do unrecognized events because of costs? Are you doing fewer events because of finances, or other reasons? Would you do more if they were less expensive? Is safety playing into any of your decisions?”
Following is a summary of the responses. Where do you fit in?
Money was an issue for many of the over 20 respondents. Some folks have been laid-off and are just treading water trying to hang on to their horses so luxuries like lessons and competitions have been cut out of their budgets entirely. Others are feeling the pinch of this down economy in this way, “My cost of living has skyrocketed and my paycheck has not.”
While the price of gas is not the significant factor it was in spring/summer 2008 folks prefer to compete at events close to home and that can be completed in one day. Several respondents stated the price of event stabling was much higher than they were willing to pay. One respondent stated that she has been to strictly dressage shows and paid far less for stabling, and wasn’t required to strip her stall. Others who have been transplanted from other Areas to Area 2 noted the high cost of stabling at many Area 2 events versus their previous locations. Expensive stabling and high hotel costs contribute to the preference for events that run in one day.
Riders that keep their horses at home were also more likely to look for events that run in one day because in addition to stabling and hotel, they would need to find someone to farm sit, thus adding to their overall ticket price for an event.
Some riders are “biting the bullet” and going to events more than 2-hours from home, but finding ways to save on stabling by finding a “bed and barn” situation with a friend, or spending the money on event stabling, and then cramming as many friends into a hotel room as possible.
Many respondents with younger horses said that they are not even considering recognized events this year, but are going the unrecognized route due to the lower entry price tag and the ability to do it all in one day. Or as another rider put it, “I like going to unrecognized events when I am getting ready to move up a level because it costs less to bomb!”
For riders at Preliminary and above the cost of the event was one of their last considerations due to the limited number of venues with upper level competitions. They were most likely to select events based on how the event fit into their competition goals for the year. Distance from home and whether the event was run over one, two, or three days was also not a major consideration. Although for some of these folks with day-jobs that don’t involve horses, their work schedule was a consideration.
None of the respondents cited safety concerns as a reason to avoid a particular event. High praise was give for the recognized venues that would also hold efficiently run, safe unrecognized competitions.
Since this informal survey was conducted on the Area 2 Adult Rider chat list several of the respondents said they favored events that support the Adult Rider program by offering special division for Adult Rider members or holding Adult Rider team competitions. They enjoyed the camaraderie of these competitions and getting to meet some of their cyber-space friends face to face. A couple of respondents stated that they selected events based on which friends were going to be there so they could P-A-R-T-Y!
Based on the unscientific results of this survey it does seem that lower level riders are scaling back their number of recognized competitions in 2009, and particularly aiming for events run over one day and close to their homes.