Capital Cowgirl’s First Post on Chronicle of the Horse Blog
Professional Eventer and Blogger Doug Payne wrote this week about an issue to which we can all relate: the ballooning cost of horse ownership and competition. He suggested a fundamental change to the sport of eventing. Concerned about the unintended impacts of his proposal, I wrote a response. But fundamentally, Doug and I agree that the sport must grow and that cost is a barrier to entry. As we grow, it’s so important to maintain the culture that makes our discipline special. So, what do you think? What creative ideas do you have? Here are a few to start the conversation:
- If each venue offered one bare-bones recognized event each year, and those events filled up lightning fast, the farm still makes a profit, and everyone can compete. Eventually, this will drive the price of all events down.
- Charge a small ($4) spectator fee and use it to offset the entry fee for riders.
- Make horse trials a more social event. Red Hills Horse Trials has used this model and several non-equestrians sponsor every year. In return, there is a sponsors tent where they can mingle and be introduced to the sport.
- Have more one-day events so that competitors can haul in and haul out without paying for a stall.
Congrats on being published on The Chronicle! Your article offered a smart perspective, and I love your tips on this post. Way to go! I think your best point was the venue for cross-country compared to other sports, and the prize money would have to be pulled from somewhere, most likely the entry fees. Thanks for sharing your ideas!
Thanks Shelby, I appreciate the support. Hopefully creative minds will get together and seek solutions. I don’t believe the farms are making enormous profit margins off events, but I also know that many riders are simply unable to compete given the high cost. If you think of anything, feel free to come on back and share your ideas. Have a great weekend!
I’m impressed with this recent piece. I think for horse sports to thrive, regardless of discipline, there needs to be a way to connect with non-horse people. A movement to offer riding as one of many athletic options for kids.
There are thousands of families across the U.S. spending big bucks for their kids to be on club teams whether volleyball or soccer, etc. They fly to different states to be in tournaments. Not all of these kids are going to be elite athlete in their sport; they’re in it because that’s what their friends do. The beauty of horse sports is that your “career” doesn’t have to be over when you graduate from college. In fact, you don’t even have to go to college if that’s not your thing.
Having one-day events is a smart option. Give people a taste of the sport. Make it fun regardless of how the rides go. Embrace the non-equestrian public and bring them in.
A Dancing With the Stars type reality show would be amazing. Find some people with little or no horse experience and prep them for a one-day event (give them like 6 months to learn to ride enough to be okay–have them on very schooled, seasoned horses who would be safe).
There are so many odd reality shows on nowadays this actually seems plausible!