By Sarah Smith


            FRANKLIN, Tenn. – The National Horse Show Commission hosted horse show managers from six states across the country at the Cool Springs Marriott to update and inform them of all the great ways and steps needed to put on a successful horse show. Many of the show managers present are seasoned show managers and contributed their thoughts about putting on horse shows.

            The meeting began shortly after 10 A.M. on Friday November 30, 2007 with an interesting icebreaker and an introduction of all the participating show managers. Chairman of the Show Management Advisory Committee, Dee Cantrell, welcomed everyone to the event and then turned the microphone over to George Greenup who began the body of the meeting by relaying to the audience the sincere importance of horse shows to the walking horse industry. This idea was again brought up and emphasized by Charles Gleghorn. Greenup stated, “Horse shows are the life and body of our industry.” Greenup also encouraged all the show managers to stay until the end of the session to learn from each other and to take a chance of winning a door prize of a full-color, full-page ad in the Walking Horse Report in order to help advertise their show.

            Charles Gleghorn, manager of the Fayetteville Blue Ribbon Horse Show spent some time explaining the steps that are taken to put on a show. First of all a show must decide what Horse Industry Organization they are going to affiliate with. Gleghorn and all the attendees affiliate their show with the National Horse Show Commission. Gleghorn went on to explain how important picking the charity you want your show to proceed is. He stated that kids are always a good place to give money that is raised. His show benefits the 4-H Club of Lincoln County, Tennessee. Gleghorn went on to express the need for a good facility to have the show at and that keeping the show at the same location year after year is also key to having a successful horse show. Having a good date for the show to take place on is another important factor. Sponsorships for the show are also key, without them there is no horse show. Gleghorn explained that sponsorships don’t always have to be obtained from people within the industry, but can be retained from members in the community, horse enthusiasts or not. The importance of picking a good judge that will pull exhibitors to your show was another topic that was discussed by Gleghorn. Gleghorn finished his talk by discussing the development of a show schedule that will be good for the exhibitors.

            The next speaker to take over the microphone was Jack Cashion from the Red Carpet Horse Show in Pulaski, Tenn. Cashion told the audience that their desires for putting on a horse show was to raise money for a good cause and to promote the Tennessee Walking Horse. Cashion told many of the details that help his club put on a successful horse show. Mr. Cashion expressed the need for a proper facility. There must be a show ring that gives both the exhibitors and the spectators an adequate amount of safety. Adequate lighting is another important factor that can sometimes be overlooked. Many shows last into the night hours, it is important that everyone involved is provided with enough light. Seating and parking for the spectators is also another key factor he discussed. Because his club draws a large number of community members that aren’t horse enthusiasts, their club promotes their show as entertainment.     Cashion explained to the audience that it is very important to put on an event that will be put on the spectators and exhibitors calendars as a “do again next year” event.

            Lisa McMahan, manager of the two-day Southern Championships in Perry, Ga., was next to address the audience. She shared ideas about putting on a multi-day event. Expense sheets from her show were passed out in order to help other managers understand how to prepare a budget for their show. McMahan expressed the dire importance of having a budget before the show, especially if it is a multi-day event. McMahan went on to explain that researching other shows entry fees and prize money is a great way to set standards for their own shows. Next on the agenda was ways to distribute prize money. Many shows staple checks written as “cash” to the ribbons and the exhibitors receive them as they leave the ring. The other way to distribute money is to staple vouchers instead of checks to the ribbons and the vouchers can be redeemed at the show office during and immediately after the show. McMahan went on to explain the importance of decorating center ring. Since all the spectators direct most of their attention to the center ring, it is very important to have something pleasing to look at. This can be achieved by borrowing or accepting donations from local farm centers, nurseries, etc.

            The entry office was next on McMahan’s agenda. She expressed the need for one person to be in charge of the entry office and that there needs to be at least four or five other workers in the entry office at all times. It is always a good idea to open the show office at least two hours before the show begins and in the case of multi-night shows, the office can be open in the morning so that the workers have adequate time to take entries. McMahan explained that it is a good idea to have radios available for the entry office, DQPs, and center ring so that they are able to communicate with each other during the show.

            Benny Johnson, who has been the National Trainers’ Show manager for 30 years, addressed the group. He expressed the importance of each show having their entry office paperwork in order with no information missing. He explained that horse shows could be found liable for missing information and that can very detrimental to any club or association putting on a horse show. Johnson told the managers to always have a current rulebook on hand and someone that understands all the rules at all times.

            Joel Weaver, a Walking Horse Trainers’ Association licensed trainer, addressed the audience and filled them in on what trainers and exhibitors look for when deciding what shows to attend. First Weaver thanked the show managers for everything they do, he repeated what was said earlier in the industry, “shows are the backbone of our industry.” Weaver expressed the popularity of Riders’ Cup classes and generous prize money being offered at shows. He explained that trainers often pick shows with these classes over shows without. Weaver went on to explain the need of a good judge and gave managers helpful hints in finding a good judge. One way to find a good judge is to ask people who are active participants in your show. The other way to find a good judge is to hire someone who hasn’t judged many shows, to give them a chance to show what  they can do. Weaver also told show managers to talk to the judges they hire and let them know what you expect. Weaver also added that it is necessary to have a good place for the judge to stand. In case of rain, it is never good to have a judge standing in mud puddles.

            The track and warm-up ring quality is another important point Weaver touched on. It is good to have a large warm-up ring that is at least 200 feet long where possible, and that it is important to have as close to the same footing in both the show ring and the warm-up areas. Weaver added that trainers prefer a show ring that has a little cushion on the rail and gradually gets harder toward the center. Weaver closed by relaying the importance of every show having a quality concession stand.

            Next to speak was Rachael Reed, Secretary and Treasurer of the National Horse Show Commission who expressed the roles and responsibilities of the NHSC. The NHSC keeps show dates and puts them on their website. They send weekly updates of their calendar of shows to the industry publications. Once received from the shows, the NHSC placed the class sheets on their website. The NHSC is available to assist the show management in anyway possible. The NHSC sends show packets when the shows affiliate with the commission. One week prior to the show, the NHSC sends the show managers and the DQP’s updated suspension lists. The NHSC is also in charge of training and licensing the judges.

            The meeting concluded after several minutes of questions and answers that were beneficial to both the audience and panel that conducted the forum.