Noah Rattner: "A Personal Note to Equestrians Who Scratch after Cutoff Dates"

Thu, 04/27/2023 - 11:22
Noah Rattner

Guest columnist of this week is Noah Rattner, an USDF Region 6 Director, horse event announcer and event manager. He is the general manager at his family's DevonWood equestrian, the Pacific Northwest's premier competition and high performance training venue located in Sherwood, OR. He has years of experience hosting and running horse shows, board meetings, and conferences, and is currently serving a four-year term as a member of the USEF Dressage Sport Committee.

"A Personal Note to Equestrians"

Personal Note to Equestrians: if you enter a competition and have to scratch after cutoff dates due to injury/sickness (or any other reason), please understand that the organizer is not trying to be unsympathetic to your situation.

In most cases, the prize list (which is on file with the Federations - and formally binds all parties) details what can and cannot be refunded - or if refunds are even possible. By most of those dates (nowadays), we are VERY close to show time…when stabling has already been assigned, bedding already set out, show has already been scheduled, extra judges or officials have been hired (or released), airfares, hotels, logistics have all been put in place based on the show’s entries. As Organizers, we’re not being mean or unsympathetic when we say that we can’t give refunds. We have so many sunken expenses for a given show that giving you a refund could cause the show financial turmoil…and could even jeopardize it taking place again in the future…

EDIT/ADD: also realize that the show’s service providers are making decisions to attend based on your anticipated participation in the show. Photographers, videographers, sponsors, vendors…and all of their logistics (investments) into what they’re hoping will be there at the show. Food vendors VERY often have $$ minimums (which organizers are required to have on-site). Fewer competitors means less dollars to ALL of these downstream companies.

Further, giving refunds when the prize list has clearly outlined the policy and cutoff dates also sets a precedent for others to pursue the same path. If we break the rules for one person, everyone else will expect the same leniency and treatment. So, think of it as a donation to the sport and your support of a show that you would have otherwise attended.

Also, get creative...

- ask them if they can donate your bedding to other competitors (or resell to your friends).

- ask them if they can convert your entry fees into a show sponsorship to promote your business.

- maybe if your horse is injured, but you’re physically fit, dare I say it…offer to volunteer?

- have another horse that isn’t show ready, but could use a field trip as a non-compete? Ask if you can sub them.

- ask them to donate whatever they might be able to return to you to The Dressage Foundation or to USDF Youth funds.

At the end of the day, know that we WANT you to be *AT* the show. We don’t want scratches (or no shows). Regardless of circumstance, be polite and respectful and understand that sometimes, the answer will be, unfortunately, no.