For the past 10 days I have been in Upper Michigan at the UPQHA Summerfest series. There were 8 days of showing with a total of 8 judges along with two exhibitor parties, an ice cream social and the annual beanbag toss tournament and calcutta. I don’t mean to brag but my mom and I took home the championship title this year! There are a ton of rookie and novice classes and the show is very laid back and inviting, especially for those who may be just starting to participate in AQHA shows. Everyone works really hard to keep the show going and volunteer a lot of their time so I wanted to see what those behind the scenes had to say about running a horse show.
I interviewed four people that help to work the show. First was Zoe Miller. She is a trainer from Michigan who is very involved in the UPQHA and helps to organize the show. You could always see her running the water truck or the drag or spreading dirt with the Bobcat. I also interviewed Gail Lampinen, a judge, trainer and exhibitor at the show. She is treasurer of the UPQHA and loves to have this type of event that is inviting for those rookie and novice exhibitors. Janelle Rymer is the entry office extraordinaire. She was manning that desk 24/7 and if she wasn’t there, she was singing the national anthem every morning. Lastly was Treasa Schumann. She was a ring steward for the first 4 days and the next weekend, if she wasn’t competing, she was working the entry gate and making sure things were running smoothly. If it wasn’t for these ladies and everyone else that that helped, it could have been possible!
What is the most challenging thing about helping to put on a horse show like the Summerfest Series in Escanaba Michigan?
“Probably getting people to volunteer to help put it on and then trying to balance the time of doing the stuff you need to do for the horse show and trying to show yourself.”
So what do you think is the best way to get people to help?
“Ask them. People don’t just come up and say ‘oh you might need help with that.’ People are more likely to if you say, ‘hey could you grab that gate for me?’ or ‘Do you have time to drag today?’ People will say yes then.”
And in general you think most people are willing to help?
“For the most part, yah.”
What is the most rewarding thing about helping to put on a horse show?
“Seeing all the new faces, new exhibitors, nice rookie and novice classes. Just trying to put on a horse show for entry level exhibitors is very rewarding.”
What do you think is the best way to encourage those people that are just starting out to come to an AQHA show and not be intimidated by it?
“Well shows like this make it more fun to come. Exhibitors and people are friendly, they’re not just coming for points, they’re coming for the whole atmosphere and a fun time. Not showing at midnight. Everybody here makes the new people feel welcome.”
What do you wish exhibitors knew about what goes on in the office at a horse show?
“Where do I start!? How when an exhibitor makes a change, which may seem small, what it takes to actually make that change.”
What is your relationship like with the judges as a ring steward?
“That depends on the judge. Some judges are more open to questions so that I can learn from them and that’s awesome for me, where as others are pretty straight laced. There’s no questions.” A lot of them will let you pick their brain like I’ll say ‘why did you pick that one?’ or they will say ‘which one do you think?’ and then they will explain to me why I was wrong.”
How long have you been a ring steward for?
“About five years.”
What is something important exhibitors should know that you have learned as a ring steward?
“A lot of it is presentation like if you come in and your boots are dirty in hunt. You know its little things like that they will nit pick besides your horse’s head is in the air. It’s really the whole picture. I have asked ‘what do you think of all the bling vs. mediocre bling?’ and some of the older judges are like ‘I don’t care as long as everything is neat and the horse is doing its part.’
Next time you are at a horse show, remember to thank those who work so hard so you can enjoy your time in the ring and be there to lend a hand if needed!