Wednesday, 23 May 2018

A Comedy of Errors

At the time my last blog post came out on Thursday morning, most parts of my show looked like they were falling into place. Then, things started to seriously go off the rails...

First was my volunteers. I do all the organizing of the show single-handedly and I require competitors in the show to volunteer for an hour each to be a test-runner or help with setup/take-down, but I rely on a few outside volunteers to help me score and scribe, two jobs that people riding in the show can't fairly participate in. Last year I had just enough help but ended up doing the majority of scoring myself so this year I had planned ahead and had double the number of volunteers lined up. I thought I was good but the animals in my volunteers lives decided to intervene. One volunteer got kicked in the head by a horse she was working on (she looks like she'll be okay but out of commission with a bad concussion for a couple weeks). One volunteer's cat swallowed 2 meters of thread so she was stuck at home on medication duty and litter box watch (cat doing fine). One volunteer had to put her elderly dog down on the weekend. Finally, another helper just became a grandmother on the weekend so she couldn't make it either (okay, I guess that one's not animal-related). All were supremely understandable excuses individually but all combined together it put me in quite a bind.

In lieu of related media, here are some photos (and cool video at end)
 of a bull snake I found on my way home from work

I succeeded in calling in a last minute scribe for half the weekend, re-organizing competitors' volunteer times, and getting my parents to help me set up Friday night. I ended up having to do all of the scoring myself but we made everything work.

While volunteers were dropping left and right, my dressage ring also fell through. An organization had previously agreed to rent me their dressage fence and letters (and even encouraged me to do so). They were charging a fairly hefty fee but they said they would help me load and deliver it so I figured it was worth it and agreed. On Thursday a series of messages brought the situation from good to difficult to worse. First, I found that they didn't have a trailer like I thought so helping load/deliver actually meant helping me put it in a trailer of my own. However the pieces were 16' long so they wouldn't fit in my 2 horse trailer. They recommended I rent a trailer which I wasn't thrilled about since it meant even more cost, but it was at least a possibility. Then the next message explained that actually they didn't have anybody to help me load. Well then, that's a lot of money I am spending for zero help, but I can technically load a dressage fence myself, it will just take longer. Finally though I was informed that they didn't even have anyone available to unlock the building where the dressage fence is stored so I couldn't rent the fence after all. Well... nothing. I can't find a work around for that. I guess I need to find a new ring, in a day. Crap.

This was the point I stopped to determine if he was a rattler or bull snake

The really frustrating part was that if this whole deal with the ring had fallen through a week earlier, I would have been fine. I already knew of another ring I could rent, it just involved 8 hours of driving for me which is why it wasn't my first choice. However, the person in charge of the back up ring was now out of the country and I had not made arrangements to get keys from her since my Plan A had seemed fine up until Thursday.

I ended up really really lucky because I knew of a private person who had a ring and she agreed to lend it to me last minute. This same ring wasn't in a state where it could be put up last year but they had fixed it up this spring so it was now usable and available, score! It also fit in my horse trailer so I was able to go pick it up and bring it to the show grounds.

I just stepped near enough to him so he turned around and headed off the road

To top the cake of crap going wrong, I stopped by the trophy store on Thursday to pick up the ribbons I had ordered, and they weren't there. I was told they had the tracking number, they were on a truck, they were supposed to arrive on Thursday but it looked likely that they would actually get in Friday morning. Okay, no big deal, I ordered them to come in Thursday so I had an extra day in case of just this eventuality. Friday morning is totally fine...

Well, Friday I go in again, fully expecting to grab my box of ribbons. The guy sees me walk through the door and gets a worried look on his face. He had forgotten that my ribbons were supposed to come Friday but as soon as he sees me he realizes that the parcel hasn't arrived and that is a very bad sign. Turns out that the tracking number he had been tracking was actually for a different order of ribbons, he didn't know where mine were. I ended up going back and forth multiple times in person and on the phone between the trophy store, the ribbon company, and the parcel service. I was adamant about doing everything in my power to get those ribbons. I had already solved two show-related crises, I could make this work. All people involved were trying to pass the buck off onto each other and I was getting conflicting information so I'm still not sure exactly what went wrong or where my ribbons were, but eventually it was 5pm, everywhere was closed, there was nobody left to call, nothing left that I could do, and I still didn't have ribbons.

On one hand, a lack of ribbons isn't the end of the world. You literally cannot run a dressage show if you don't have a facility, a dressage ring, a judge and a scribe, but you can technically run a show without ribbons. However, on the other hand, the personalization of ribbons makes them one of the things that is most impossible to come up with a last minute alternative for. Also, people who show like their ribbons, and winners photos with ribbons on social media is one of the best promotion tools for a show.


The show went on, and despite everything it was overall a success. There were no ribbons but the karmic gods shined down on me and gave me happy riders and perfect weather (sunny, breezy and 20-26C (68-79F)). I'll post more about the show itself later but basically it was a very stressful few days for me but most things worked out okay in the end.

14 comments:

  1. Yikes, what a trifecta of disasters! But at least you got the potentially show-stopping ones sorted out!

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    1. Yep, I'm very glad the show could go on!

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  2. Jeez, that's a lot to have to deal with! Good job getting it all sorted (aside from the ribbons)!

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    1. I was hoping not to have to deal with so much this year since I am also getting married in a week!

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  3. Holy crap! That's a lot of crises! Very well-handled on your part :)

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  4. oh man..... i guess no good deed goes unpunished! but hey, happy riders are what it's all about in the end, right? and maybe some riders will be inspired to lend more of a hand next time??

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    1. Right? Unfortunately it's always a tough balance between riders and volunteers. There's such a small pool of people who are interested in dressage that I want as many to enter the show as possible but then that leaves less people available to help me out.

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  5. Whoa, that's a lot of things to go wrong! If I lived closer I would totally help out! Actually, if there's anything I can help with remotely via phone or internet next time, get in touch if your're in a bind...our local stuff here keeps getting cancelled due to lack of interest/volunteers and I love that you're making it work there!

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    1. Thanks so much for the offer T, but I don't think much can be done remotely. At least some things should get better through the years, like I have good scoring templates built in excel now so that should save me time next year. I am operating under the plan of "build it and they shall come" but realizing that it might take a few years to grow to a more sustainable level.

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  6. That’s a lot to deal with all in the last minutes of the prep. I’m glad it went smoothly from there and you had happy riders

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    1. Happy riders makes my job a lot easier during the actual show!

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  7. I hope they gave you your money back for your ribbons

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    1. Actually they tried to overcharge me $150 but I said no to that BS (I did pay the normal amount though)

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