Friday, May 28, 2010

The Morgan Show.......... A Little Stress

Part 1

I did have "people" issues during this horse show. There always seem to be those. I just never know what the specific issue will be but someone will not be happy and the buck stops with me.

That makes me a target for angry people even when I might have no control over what has them pissed. I still must stay within the confines of the rules of the governing organizations and of course the facility so it's not always within my power to fix some things.
Most times people will calm down with a simple explanation. Just having someone hear their complaint, even if it can't be fixed, is enough for them to feel understood. Others aren't willing to accept that and can take it out on me or even others at the show.

As a show manager, USEF gives me the tools to deal with exhibitors who might cross the line. I try to be fair and even allow people to vent but at the same time I don't want to be abused either.

Sometimes people haven't read their rules so they don't realize that they can be barred from a competition for disrespecting officials, any officials. Depending on the allegations, USEF members repercussions can go as far as actually barring membership from USEF and participation at USEF events for inappropriate behavior at horse shows.

The range of unacceptable behavior can be anything that might be considered unsportsmanlike as well as disrespecting officials or rules. Once an exhibitor filed charges against another for harassment at a show. Even throwing a ribbon in a trash can because one is miffed it wasn't good enough, can have repercussions if show management sees such behavior.

I have never actually brought anyone up on charges nor have I threatened to do such but I would it the situation warranted. Mostly I've been able to talk people down by getting them to see the other side of the situation. Sometimes, however, that is not enough.
There are those people who want what they want and they don't care about the rules. Because they cannot get their way they are going to make someone, anyone miserable. Those are the people the rules are designed for, to keep such people under control and apply consequences if they act out. Sometimes it can be a fine line between how much I "take" as a show manager and when to draw that line in the sand.

One of the move in nights before the horse show started, I came across one pretty angry exhibitor. About the time we were trying to close up the show office, she came in insisting lights be turned on so she could lunge horses in the covered warm-up arena.

At this facility none of the lighted areas are designated lunging areas. I realize that can be a problem sometimes but it is not withing my power to authorize lunging in places not approved by the facility. I told the exhibitor this and pointed out what areas she could use to lunge.

She still insisted that didn't work for her. She wanted to lunge in a restricted area, the outdoor covered warm-up arena. Her horses had been travelling in the trailer for six hours and she believed they should be lunged and lunged now. To meet her needs she expected me to accommodate her no matter what the rules. When I told her that wasn't possible, she snapped at me she would never be coming to this show again.

I wish I could say that's where this stopped but it isn't. I ended up with this exhibitor taking her anger out on me for a good three quarters of an hour from start to finish. Not something fun, that's for sure, but also not something I have to tolerate.

I followed the exhibitor outside and over to the covered warm-up. There someone from her party was working a horse in lines in the restricted arena. I had to tell them the horse must be removed from the area immediately. From there it pretty much went down hill.

I think the person working with the horse got rattled because in trying to get the horse stopped the horse partially reared acting like it was considering flipping over. The angry exhibitor took over getting control of the horse which couldn't have helped that horse much . Then she proceeded to untack the horse before it was removed from the arena. The whole time she continued venting at me.

I stood there listening but not responding to her tirade. To be honest I was trying to decide when enough was enough. The way she was behaving was anything but respectful of my authority or my presence. Personally I believe she strung out how long it took to get the horse out of the arena so she could continue to vent at me.

I did not write this exhibitor up for her behavior at the horse show. I certainly would have been justified in doing so. In all my years of horse show management experience, I have never experienced an exhibitor who has knowingly gone off on me in such a manner.

I've had a couple of exhibitors get started down that path until they realized who I was. Then they apologized for their behavior and made a hasty retreat. It was obvious those exhibitors understood they were walking a fine line.

This woman I don't think has a clue that line is even there. If she does, then she really doesn't care that it exists. She clearly didn't care about anyone but herself. I can assure you if she crosses that line with me again, she will be learning what the consequences can be. I was willing to give her the benefit of having a bad day once, but it won't happen again.

I have no intention of enabling her bad behavior so she can inflict it on other show personal when she doesn't get her way. It's hard enough to get people to work on horse shows as it is without having the threat of dealing with such circumstances. Once confrontation like this would stop most from ever working on a horse show again.
For me, I was glad my horse was there. After this confrontation I went into his stall and groomed on Legs until the tension finally left my body. I know managing horse shows will be stressful but this kind of stress just isn't supposed to be part of the deal. Now that I was in the middle of it, I was really glad I had the best stress reliever I know there on the grounds to help me through it. Otherwise it would have been a very very long horse show.

To be continued...........

A Little Mystery


  1. Sounds like she needs to be written up. That is just not acceptable , whether you are a show official or not . Why do some people believe so firmly that their bad mood is your problem?

  2. Shame on that woman!! I am sorry you had to deal with that. It sounds like bringing Legs along was a very good idea indeed. I'm glad he was there to offer support when needed :).

  3. This lady, actually no by her behaviour she does not deserve to be called a lady, this persons behaviour was reprehensible, and she did deserve to be written up by you. I beleive even if you weren't working there officially that behaviour is still unacceptable!

    You definately did/do not deserve to be treated like this by anyone, I agree, if she ever does this again you must write her up, because I believe that is the only way she will ever learn that her behaviour is not acceptable.

    I glad Legs was there for you. It is amazing how much it calms people just being with the animals they love, just touching and smelling them can make such a difference.

    Karren from Australia

  4. Thanks, everyone, for the support on this. People behaving like this is definitely the hardest part of working on horse shows. Someday I will have to tell the story of a big halter boy who caused some real damage at a horse show with his temper tantrum.

    fernvalley, I don't have the answer to your question. Wish I did. It would make my job a lot easier.

    JJ, there's not doubt having Legs there helped resolved my horse show stresses.

    AAL, I did make it a point to monitor her behavior throughout the show once I found out she is known for this kind of behavior. Had I know that first, I think I would have warned her of the line she was crossing instead of standing there an listening to her rant.