As a marketer, I am often asked to wear the hat of an event planner and can confirm from experience that event planning is tedious. From an overview perspective, events are fairly simple; pick an objective and a theme, then begin funneling down to the details. Flip to the detail perspective and events can quickly become overwhelming as they require a great deal of logistical and organizational prowess. For this reason, I am truly empathetic to the great folks who organize and conduct horse shows like the Appaloosa Nationals that I had the fortune of attending last week.
For participants, horse shows are stressful and can turn the sanest person into a crazy horse show mom, exhibitor, trainer, etc. Even the smallest unfortunate detail of the world’s greatest horse show can become the catalyst for an all-out meltdown. So, I gave myself a couple of days to really unwind and compile my thoughts regarding the overall experience I had at the National App show.
Unfortunately, as I balanced the good moments with the not-so-good moments my feelings scale fell slightly to the side of disappointment. That is not to say I would take back my experience— I am thankful for the opportunity and proud of myself for attending. I am also very pleased with my horse’s performance. She stood her ground in a sea of beautiful show horses and proved she had every right to compete at a National event.
Overall, the event was well organized. The ApHC staff were helpful and accommodating. The facility was safe and clean, though we did have a bit of a hiccup setting up the trailer. The camper hook-up boxes were backwards for every other trailer, so it took some creative parking to make our power cable as well as our septic hose reach their opposing destinations— normal stuff and not a big deal.
Like other appaloosa events, most of the exhibitors were very friendly. This trait is the foremost reason I’ve chosen to participate in the Appaloosa Horse Club instead of other organizations such as the American Quarter Horse Association. I like talking with people! It’s my favorite part of a horse show.
At one point, a very nice lady began a conversation with my dad. They talked for a little while before I joined in. She was so nice and made such a great impression for the appaloosa breed. We would later find out that our new friend was Sherri Mell, an honoree in the Cowgirl Hall of Fame!
Then, there was the trainer (I’ll leave names out this time) who was obviously more interested in his personal objectives than speaking with me. His stalls were painstakingly decorated with advertisements, monogrammed curtains and furniture— too bad all of that went to waste as he didn’t have the time of day for someone he didn’t know. It is so unfortunate how this negative experience can shadow such a positive moment like meeting Ms. Mell.
The show itself is the highest weighted portion of my disenchantment. I knew going to Nationals the class numbers would be minimal, particularly for my classes. But, it is ridiculous to have classes with only one or two entries. Even the 3 year old hunter under saddle class only had like 9 participants. And, the number of spectators was dismal. This sort of participation sends my poor marketing brain into an absolute tizzy. As an event planner, you should know your cost for each activity. If the participation in the activity is not enough to cover your expenses, do something about it! Add a prize. Drop the fees. Do something to encourage participation!
Not only should the event be worth the time and energy of the hosting organization, it must also be worth the expenses incurred by each exhibitor. For my dad and I to attend and compete in two classes, our total expenses were $2,651. That included 191 gallons of diesel at a total cost of $568, our show fees, camper hook-up, food, and a few souvenirs. For us, it was our summer vacation. We got to see my brother and his family, and we enjoyed the attractions in Fort Worth. From that angle, it was a great deal. However, divided by the total number of ApHC points we received, we should get a refund. Seriously. Where’d that $50 charge for drug testing go?
It was an 18 hour drive back home to which we arrived at 1 am Saturday morning. Texas was hot. I was exhausted. I threw my horse in the pasture, which is where she will stay for the next few days. She deserves a break for her fabulous performances.
In all, I could not be more proud of my horse, my dad or myself. We brought home some pretty trophies, so we can mark this off our bucket list and look forward to the next app show (one closer to home). The next “big” show is the Appaloosa World, which is also held in Fort Worth in the fall. It is my understanding this will be a larger event with respect to exhibitor numbers. Unfortunately, teachers (even marketing teachers) don’t get to take vacation in October, so I’ll settle to watch the live stream and hope everyone in attendance has a fantastic experience.