Mid-South Eventing & Dressage Association

Sanctioning Savvy

04/02/2018 11:29 AM | Chelsea Smith (Administrator)

Horse showing at a new venue can be a bit like flying blind. Find out why attending MSEDA-sanctioned shows and events can ensure you feel like you’re riding with a no-fail GPS.

By Sarah E. Coleman

Horse shows can be great fun no matter where you are, but attending a new event or horse trial can be fraught with doubts: What kind of judges will be there? How will the event be run? Will anything overface my horse? Will it be worth my trip down here?

Some of these fears can be allayed with three little words: “Sanctioned by MSEDA.” When you’re looking to attend a new event, this small phrase can guarantee you a few things: that the show will be a quality event; that the officials will be licensed by MSEDA, USEF or USDF; and that qualified medical personnel will be on the grounds should you need them (we hope you won’t!).

The Positives Behind Sanctioning Shows

MSEDA sanctioning helps show managers in a myriad of ways, arguably the most important of which is bringing additional competitors to the venue. Fully 40 percent of competitors attending dressage shows, events and horse trials in Kentucky and the surrounding states are MSEDA members. Sanctioning shows encourages more riders to compete in their quest for year-end honors.

Sanctioning can remove a lot of stress from show managers. Sanctioning ensures that show managers provide their competitors with a level playing field. It does so by requiring that they have a sanctioned technical delegate (TD) at the competition. There is a vast list of all the requirements a TD must do or provide at every horse show s/he attends.

This list is extensive and includes everything from ensuring that fence heights are correct, that there is ample warm-up areas, that horse and rider behavior in the warm up is appropriate, that all the letters in the dressage arenas are correct, and much, much more. A TD’s job is critical to the smooth and accurate running of a horse show, and it can be a relief for a horse show manager to have competent, endorsed help during an event.

Another boon for horse show hosts and managers? Sanctioning with MSEDA looks great to insurance companies. MSEDA requires that medical personnel be present during the show, a proactive preparation should an accident happen. This measure is not required by most insurance companies. In most cases, unsanctioned shows let local rescue services know they are hosting an event, but don’t have someone physically on the grounds. Sanctioning requires a medical professional be on the grounds, dedicated to ensuring the safety of riders.

A Competitor’s Edge

Competitors appreciate attending MSEDA-sanctioned shows as there are never any surprises, no matter where they attend an event or show. Every MSEDA-sanctioned event follows the same rules with regards to details, including fence height, types of fences offered, etc., allowing riders to bring green horses (and trainers to bring green riders) and know that they will not be overfaced—there are no surprises on unfair jump options at sanctioned shows.

MSEDA-sanctioned shows offer exhibitors more than just a quality experience—they also offer the ability ride under sanctioned judges who offer meaningful, insightful feedback that will allow riders to improve if they take the comments to heart. “The feedback and remarks [on tests] are more meaningful if I know the type and amount of training a judge went through to get them,” says Nikki Seto, a MSEDA member who competes in Western Dressage. This is especially important in a new discipline like western dressage, she explains. “MSEDA has several local judges, officials and instructors who have taken the time and expense to learn to rules, expectations, purpose, terminology and roots of this emerging discipline.”   

Nikki, like the majority of MSEDA members, competes to garner points toward year-end awards. Riders can only accrue these points at shows that are sanctioned. Here, sanctioning translates directly to the show manager’s bottom line: If the show is sanctioned, more riders will attend in an attempt to earn points.

In addition to points, showing at sanctioned shows allows riders to track their progress with their horse as the show season continues—knowing they are riding under multiple judges who have worked hard to receive certifications means that the comments and thoughts truly describe how the horse-and-rider team compares with the ideal.

Currently, Western Dressage riders can only accrue points at sanctioned, schooling-level shows under current USEF guidelines, Nikki notes. Unfortunately, the closest Western Dressage Association of American (WDAA) show is in Tennessee, forcing local competitors to travel out of state for competition.  Should more shows within Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana were to become sanctioned, their base ofrider support would grow (which, again, means more money for horse show hosts in addition to the growth of the discipline).

How Can we Help?

How can MSEDA encourage show managers to sanction their shows? In addition to more pushes for sanctioned shows on social media and the MSEDA website, how else can our organization serve you? Let us know by emailing Nikki Seto at nikki.w.seto@gmail.com 

Midsouth Eventing & Dressage Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

MSEDA’s mission is to promote and preserve the sports of Eventing and Dressage in the Mid-South area, by providing leadership and education to its members and the community at large. To further these goals, MSEDA will provide educational opportunities, fair and safe competitions, promote the welfare of the horse and rider and reward the pursuit of excellence from the grass roots to the FEI level.

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