Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Making the Gold Plunge

I just renewed all of my memberships for the year (I know we are already a month into 2019 but when the closest show is still two months out, there's really no rush)

My memberships are:

Alberta Equestrian Federation (AEF)
- $50 for annual individual membership
- Bare minimum to participate in a lot of clinics, schooling shows etc (for insurance purposes)
- I use the AEF Wild Rose sanctioning model for the show I host and they are always a pleasure to work with and keep on finding new ways to reduce costs and add value for horse riders in the province so I don't mind giving them my money at all

In the absence of related photos, please see this screenshot of actual temps
from last week and the forecast for this week (note lows in blue).
It's shaping up to be a cold February. 

Chinook Country Alberta Dressage Association (CC/ADA)
- $40 for annual membership which includes membership in overall Alberta Dressage Association
- This is my local area group and the group that I am also on the exec for. The CC/ADA has been nothing but helpful with my efforts to grow the sport in my area so this is another membership I feel good about

Equestrian Canada (EC)

Now here is where things change.

EC Membership is required to compete in rated shows but other than that I don't see as much direct benefit from the EC as from AEF and ADA. In the past I have done the bare minimum with my EC memberships which means a Bronze Sport License. This costs about $50/year once you add in their extra charges for amateur status and a physical card.

I like Bronze and Wild Rose shows, they still use the same rules, tests and frequently even the same judges as higher level shows, but they are both more affordable and more approachable. However I have known for a while that sooner or later I will need to progress to competing at Gold or Silver shows. Equestrian Canada only formally records scores for shows Silver and above so you need to compete in those if you want your scores to be counted towards any awards or any judging applications. I understand it on one level, but it also kind of seems like a money grab and makes me understand why the number of entries at Gold Shows has been sharply reclining in Alberta in recent years, so much so that multiple long-running shows were cancelled this year.

I finally decided to take the plunge this year and upgrade my membership. I've wanted to get scores at Silver/Gold shows for a few years now, but each year I worry that I won't be ready and figure that I will upgrade my license right before a gold show if my riding is going well enough. Well apparently that is a bit of a defeatist attitude and it means I haven't made it to a Gold show yet. This year I decided to put faith in myself by putting the money up in advance so that I will be motivated to be ready for those shows. (If you are wondering why I skipped Silver and went straight for Gold it is because the only Silver shows in Alberta are both far away and early in the year so I'm not willing to do that haul in the winter).

The best conformation photo I have, so the one I submitted for the horse recording

As the first year of pursuing my Gold License, here's what I had to pay:

1. Gold Sport License - $175
2. Physical Card - $5 - I guess I didn't have to do this, but I wanted a physical card, makes me feel like a more serious athlete lol
3. Horse Recording plus Activation (not needed for Bronze shows) $82
4. Dressage Rider Award Registration - $50 (I am a bit pissed off that you have to pay an extra $50 just to be eligible for your scores to count for awards or medals, but at least it's only a one-time fee)

I had to dig up Kachina's bill of sale and registration for the horse recording,
check out both the skinny, leggy photos of Kachina from 7 years ago and the
oddity of the Pinto registry where you can register a horse with so little info

What about you? Is showing at a recognized level important to you despite the extra costs or do you prefer less formal shows? What makes the difference to you?


  1. Ugh, all these memberships are so expensive, but I'm glad you're going to a Gold show this year! SO exciting!!

    I generally show recognized because I'm going for regional qualifiers or national awards (and honestly, because the footing and the judging sucks at some of the unrecognized shows). This year is a little different because I'm showing a baby and just trying to get him miles... but who knows where that will end up!

    1. I would have taken the plunge sooner if Kachina and I were half as accomplished as you and Taran! Your baby is looking pretty good too! We all have to start somewhere though and I'm excited to have some recognized goals to work towards

  2. I like your thinking! Our gold shows here in BC usually also have bronze classes, so I haven't taken the plunge yet as it's the same judges, facilities, ride times, etc even with the cheaper Bronze membership. I think after First level (?) here there are no more bronze classes, tho, so I'll have to get ready to pay if I want to move up...I remember someone saying that was planned - they make it easy to show at the lower level, get you hooked and then if you want to continue you need to pay, lol :)

    1. Sneaky! At least here the dual shows offer all levels each, well up until FEI anyways (and we're a long way away from worrying about that level!).

  3. Cool and congratulations on taking the plunge!