A game of equine chess!

July 20, 2021 4:11 pm by
Posted in General, Jayne Ross, News

Planning, organisation and team work…

Having just completed 5 shows in 8 days I am glad to be back at home for a breather before setting off again.

I am lucky to have a hard-working team who are always cheery no matter how hectic things get and such understanding owners who support us come rain or shine.

It can be scary to think about the logistics of organising a showing season and you’d think with so many years’ experience it be a walk in the park, but I never become complacent.

The devil is in the detail and the first thing I do is sit down with Jo Powell who has been with me for many years and get out the trusty spreadsheet. There are so many things to think about it is mind boggling – some are obvious and some not.

We start by asking our clients which shows they would like to go to and request dates they are available and those they are not. We then rule out any shows where there is a possible association with a judge. Now we have a starting point.

This year has been slightly easier because of entries closing later which allows some room to manoeuvre. Normally entries close 2 or 3 months in advance which isn’t ideal if you find yourself with a horse that has left the yard or a new horse 3 or 4 weeks before a show.

With entries sorted, we then work out if we need to take more than one lorry. The challenge is when you have several shows running in succession as you must plan which staff to have where. You may need someone at the yard to take a couple of the horses to a canter track the day before a show so then you need a person there to drive a lorry but perhaps you had planned for the lorry driver to be at a show the same day!

It takes a lot of careful planning to work out which horses can go where so that they all get an even chance throughout the season with the right judges and ensuring their owners get to see them.

Then there are the things to factor in that might not immediately spring to mind. Have you considered horses who won’t travel in a certain spot on the lorry? Maybe you have a horse who doesn’t like being against the groom’s door and living quarters, or you might have one that won’t go on the back of the lorry between the last partition and the ramp, maybe they are too big.  Then you can’t take 6, large horses to that particular show, unless you are taking a 2nd lorry, but do you have another driver or enough staff?

You want horses to arrive calm and collected but if they have not travelled well, they do not perform to the best of their ability.

At the show organisation and planning comes into its own.  Jo is the chief liaison officer between me, owners and staff ensuring everyone knows exactly what needs to be done and who needs to be where and when. Timetables are posted on the inside of the lorry doors; all the tack is marked and the horses each have their own bridles with colour coded tags on so everyone knows what bridle goes on which horse and the saddles have labels with their names on. There is also a list on the inside of the lorry that tells us which horse has a fluffy numnah, which has a gel pad, elasticated girth, leather girth, white girth and so on. We try and do all our homework and cover every eventuality.

Once I am on board, I might have several horses in a row to ride, so Jo is either in the ring with me to groom or back at the lorry ensuring the production line of getting horses ready runs like clockwork. Everyone can do a bit of everything, and team Ross runs like a well-oiled machine. I have been in this game long enough to know that there is always something that comes up and can put a spanner in the works but 98% of the time we have everything covered. However, give yourself time, be organised and you can’t go far wrong.

A lesson I learnt some years ago with reigning HOYS champion Twinshock Warrier is that it only takes one mishap, such as pulling a shoe off, having a sore foot for a few days, the lorry breaking down, and you can’t go to a show.  Before you know it, you are 4 or 5 qualifying shows in and you still don’t have a ticket. So, I factor these things in and get out as soon as I can to get our ticket then you can relax a bit more. I don’t leave anything to chance.

Of course, there are also the logistics of classes clashing and, as I have not yet mastered the art of cloning myself, that is another feat of organisation entirely.

In the lorry on the journey home Jo and I get out the trusty spreadsheet and try to plan the next set of shows because they are dependent on the outcome of that day.

Next, we are off to the 3 Counties Show, 3 days at Hickstead, 4 days at Royal Windsor, the Sport Horse National Championship and then the Great Yorkshire Show. So, on top of getting the horses ready we will be packing up the lorry for staying away for a couple of days… now where did I put that spreadsheet?