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2021 Landkamer Competition Management Development Fund Grant Recipient: Ann-Christine Erikson

Is Show Management for me?

September 2021
Devonwood Equestrian Centre, Sherwood, OR

I am the honored recipient of The Dressage Foundation’s Lloyd Landkamer Show Management Development Fund 2021 Grant.

My plan –
Noah Rattner is the hired Show Manager for the Oregon Dressage Society’s Championship Show held September 10-12, 2021, at Devonwood Equestrian Centre in Sherwood, OR. I will be there and take part in the show ground preparations, show office duties, meeting officials involved in the show and anything and everything else I can possibly get involved in and learn about.

My Goal –
I believe that to be a great Show Manager you must know the ropes, rules, and regulations for sure, but it’s also about being a great host, both to the competitors, officials, volunteers and the venue itself. That’s why I wanted to visit Devonwood and Noah, they represent all that. I looked forward to being behind the scenes and see what it takes to offer up a great show experience for everyone.

My Experience –
I left my home in Gig Harbor late morning a few days before show date and started my three-hour drive to Sherwood, OR, to spend 3+ days shadowing Noah, Show manager extra ordinaire. The drive gave me time to think about my expectations and the areas I wanted to be sure to cover.

After arriving, I spent that afternoon hearing about the plans and preparations still to happen the next day. It was nice to meet a few people from the show management, the show secretary Monica, Oregon Dressage Society (ODS) President Lisa, announcer and grounds preparation guru, Walter and more ODS  Volunteers. Noah showed me around the venue, what had been accomplished already and explained what the next couple of days had in store for us.

Last minute preparations and final adjustments. It’s thrilling to see all the details that goes into a show and the multi-talented source you need to be as a Show Manager. Texts, phone calls and emails are constantly rolling in from competitors, volunteers, staff, and officials on Noah’s phone.

We walked around the show grounds making sure required signage, information, arena markers, vendor locations, stall cards, porta potties, manure containers emptied, coordinate with volunteers, show secretary, announcer, musical freestyle sound equipment check, make sure walkie talkies are charged for the volunteers, eradicate wasp nests in the barn area, touch base to confirm with EMT’s when to arrive…that’s just a few things.

As the trailers started to arrive, I took on my role as the observer and just digested as much information I could during the weekend. Noah was fabulous, including me in behind the scenes events and situations, explained decisions and how to defuse possible situations.

The days are long and sometimes intense, but never boring. You must be prepared to be flexible and able to adjust to situations you never could have foreseen, regardless of how well prepared you are.

Rules and regulations, and there are many, it’s great that there is a TD – a USEF Technical Delegate on the grounds. I spent a good amount of time with Kaye at this show and one full day in June together with Tajie at a different show, learning about show managing from a TD’s eyes.

Another highlight was being included to join the officials, the judges, for dinner. Interesting stories were shared, and since I was lucky to be their driver to the airport on the last day, I got the opportunity to ask them what they think is important in a successful Show Manager.

I was able to help as well during these days. I do have some experience in show management, AND as a competitor, and it came in handy at times. I have no problem jumping in and take on tasks needed to be done. That’s an important quality in a Show Manager in my opinion.

There is SO much going on at a multi ring Championship show and it amazes me how it all can come together. It’s not always without glitches, but a good Show Manager can make sure they are few and far in between.

I feel I got a fantastic insight in the behind the scenes and preparations during my days at Devonwood. I couldn’t have picked a better mentor in Noah. Nothing like on-the-job training!

My Conclusion –
Being a Show Manager is not for the faint of heart or the introvert. It is important to learn and know the rules and the regulations set for the various levels of competitions, but even more important is to understand that you are there to serve and manage the show for everyone involved, competitors, officials, volunteers, show management, vendors, staff, national federations, the horses, and visitors. Hospitality is key! That cannot be taught, I believe you either have it or you don’t.

Having a great team to work with together seems very important. A dressage show is not a one- man event.

I believe I can now answer my original question that started this adventure.

YesShow Management is for me. It’s a task/job I will continue to pursue. I am so grateful for the TDF grant that made my days at Devonwood possible and the opportunity to completely sink into a show weekend through preparations and from start to finish, seen through the eyes of a Show Manager. I can’t thank Noah enough for making all the arrangements for me and letting me follow him around for 4 days, answering thousands of questions. He is the Show Manager I aspire to become. All I need now is more experience.

With a grateful heart,
Christine Erikson