This month I wrote a check for a show entry that was triple one I wrote for a show with comparable classes 10 years ago. The cost of showing is galloping ahead of the cost of the gas needed to get there.
Entry fees haven’t gone up so much as other charges. Now we have higher USEF fees for qualifying classes, non-members and drug testing, plus office fees, haul-in fees and even a (non-refundable) number fee. Add in stabling fees and a $100 show a decade ago now costs $300. You also shell out to national organizations, local groups and breed registries, blowing a couple hundred bucks before the snow has melted off your trailer.
Many higher charges are understandable. Professionals have replaced over-worked volunteers, resulting in bigger, better-run, more-expensive shows. Good facilities aren’t cheap, and the costs must be passed along to the competitor.
Show costs have a lot to do with geography. Local interest in horse sports has created horse-show hot spots, where suitable show facilities have been maintained over the decades. Nearby shows or drive-in shows save gas, stabling and motel costs.
Solutions to showing inflation need to come from a variety of sources:
• Local organizations should provide alternatives such as schooling shows to serve those who can’t always afford to compete in major recognized shows.
• The USEF needs to address this problem, both in regard to its own fees and strict requirements that mean smaller shows have little flexibility in required costs.
• Equine-related sponsors generously support our various horse sports but can’t be expected to subsidize everyone. Organizers need to look beyond horse businesses for operating support.
At the very least, competitors who attend shows despite rising costs should be respected by those involved with putting them on. While some competitors are notorious in not appreciating the efforts of the those who provide the shows, the reverse can also be true. Competitors are the customers, and their dedication to travel and find the wherewithal to write out that entry check must be valued.