When Nazareth College Equestrian Team coach Terese Bouchard told her team that we were going to be hosting an Intercollegiate Horse Show Association horse show in the fall of 2003, there was an eruption of "oohs" and "aahs." How exciting! Hosting our own show would show the world that we were an established team, with our own place in the IHSA.
Then we began to realize how massive a task it was. Now there were groans and "oh nos." Could we match the high standards set by the other teams in our region? Those schools had more team members and more experience. We were just beginners. Coach Bouchard reassured us: "It's going to be a lot of hard work, and everyone needs to pull their weight. But we can do it, and it'll be really great." We slowly perked up and began preparations.
We started last spring by brainstorming about fundraising and how best to approach businesses and individuals for sponsorships. Under the tutelage of assistant coach and marketing professional Mary VanKeuren, team members Kathy Feasel and Emily Massimi worked on the business aspects of running a show. They designed brochures and a Website, organized funds and sponsorships and set up a silent auction.
Armed in team apparel with brochures in hand, team members headed into the donation battlefield. There were many willing patrons who happily donated time, money and goods to help us run the show. We decided that an auction would be a great way to raise money. Our friends could help out the team and have a chance to bid on some terrific items. We auctioned everything from cookie baskets to paintings. Thanks to the generous donations and bids, we raised the funds necessary to cover the costs of a judge, ribbons and prizes, horse transportation to the show site and other show costs.
OK, so we were getting the money together -- now what? Coach Bouchard was an experienced horse show organizer, but even she acknowledged that IHSA shows were in a class by themselves. Luckily for us, Kelly Nyhan, a Cazenovia College graduate and veteran IHSA show coordinator, offered her knowledge and services. Kelly created a master list of all necessary chores, from schooling horses to "ribbon princess." Those jobs were assigned to appropriately skilled team members. It was a process that took time and revision.
The show date loomed, and our nerves reached the breaking point. The week before the show was the most grueling. Working in shifts, team members and friends completely cleaned Patterson Stables in Rochester, NY, where the show was to be held. One side of the barn was allotted to spectators, with shops and boutiques occupying free stalls; while the other side was set up with tables and chairs to give teams a place to relax and change.
A thousand last minute tasks kept us running the night before, but our advance preparations and attention to detail paid off. Because we jumped through hoops before the show to make sure that everything went well, we all had a smooth ride on the show day itself. And Coach Bouchard gave us a whole day off before we started planning next year's show!