I’d like to weigh in on the topic of horse show prizes. You know, the goodies you or your spawn get if you happen to have a good day and you are lucky enough to wind up with a $1.00 piece of nylon validation telling you, “You done GOOD!” Coolers or silver plated whatnots (plates/frames/cups) are truly awesome prizes. Sadly, my kids and I don’t typically show at the level of show that awards those prizes. Even if we did, I’m not so sure we’d be getting those kinds of ribbons. We play at the more local level and I have to say I’m really happy with the direction these prizes are going.
Putting on a profitable show is a big ask, so I’m gonna say that the fact that shows give prizes at all is pretty damn fantastic. A ribbon may fade or get lost or shoved to the bottom of a box in the attic, but a coffee mug or candy jar can go off to college with you. No joke. Both my kids will go off to college with at least 12 mugs. I’m thinking they can use a couple for hot beverages, then repurpose the others into pen holders, hair tie organizers, or flower pots. (Whatever. The last one could happen, although they better not be growing anything funky in them!)
I’ve noticed that show management has gone in a very enlightened direction these days. It’s true that kids make up a good portion of the active show population, but a lot of the folks sitting on show-pretty horses, sweating from activity and nerves and looking as if they are going to vomit, are adults. Where am I going with this, you ask? Think about it: Who is paying for the horse show? An adult. The adult who is parenting or the adult who is riding. What do adults who are paying for the whole galactically expensive horse thing do? They drink!
They drink to exacerbate the pain of writing checks equaling the GDP of a South American nation. They drink to drown a case of the nerves or because that night’s lesson (or any of them in recent memory) didn’t go to plan. Or just because hanging at the barn/show with the other inmates of the horse-crazy asylum and sharing an adult beverages is a good thing.
It seems that horse show management has re-evaluated thinking when it comes to prizes and factoring in the folks who pay the bills. In other words, you still get a ribbon and you might still get a coffee mug, but now many shows recognize who is paying the bills, the adults, and tailoring the prizes to them. PREACH!!!!! Sing Hallelujah! Break out the booty shaken’ happy dance!
I offer as evidence….
We went to a show where they were giving the wine glasses above as prizes for winning a class. My son was showing, and I told him, “No pressure, honey, but Momma needs a new set of wine glasses.” Luckily the boy had a very good show, and I got my wine glasses. SCORE!
One of my favorite shows is right up the road and one of the masterminds behind it is a very cool lady named Lena. Lena is a true genius. She has great stuff for the ponies and kiddos, but she also knows that Mom and Dad (aka The Bank) need a little recognition as well. My daughter won a class and Lena walked over to Sophie to hand her the blue. On her way over Lena handed me a wine glass sippy cup, the wondrous invention you see above. SWEEEEEEEETTTT!
To further illustrate Lena’s brilliance, the picture above shows what she gave to the series Reserve Champions. A chair! Seriously, this prize is perfect on so many levels. As a parent of a rider, you need something to sit in during the hours of “hurry up and wait” until the spawn goes in the ring for the 2-5 minutes they actually spend showing. Or, if you are the person that is showing, you need something to catch you as you slide bonelessly off your horse, as well as something that will hold you as you a: suck deeply from an oxygen tank or b: hydrate yourself with an adult beverage. (In which case, see the above referenced wine sippy cup). The chair also comes in handy if you have multiple children with activities, or the equestrian child participates in other sports. The little beauty above has come in handy at several soccer/lacrosse games. The more chairs you win the better, as you know the odds are good you’ll forget one and wind up “donating” it to whatever event you were at.
As you can imagine, I’ve been lobbying our trainer and barn manager to go to these shows as often as possible. You can never have too many wine glasses.