There is no rule book for hosting shows. This is just a smattering of tips and things to think about that I've compiled over the years that could help the next show you host be a success.
What is your show about?
First you have to decide what horses and disciplines you want to be featured in this show. Check and make sure there aren't a bunch of shows already being hosted in these areas, as people may not have time to enter both and will probably go with the one they saw first. The more specific your show is, the more unique it will be, but be sure it is not so specific that no one is qualified to enter. Common ones may be:
- Experience related ("Championship Show", "Rookie Show")
- Breed or Type Related ("Arabian Show", "Halloween-Colored Horses Show", "Pony Show")
- Discipline related ("Gaited Show", "Medieval Show")
Many really interesting shows have themes. Themes are not necessary, but can make your show stand out. Common ones may be:
- Seasonal ("Spring Show", "Holiday Show")
- Geographically related ("Russian Steppes Show", "Desert Dunes Show")
- Technique related ("Color show", "Abstract Show")
How is your show presented?
Don't make the people who are entering search for the information! If they have too many questions, many won't bother and will just decide not to join your show.
- Run date
- When does it open
- When does it close
- Will there be extensions if people need them?
- What information do they need to include?
- Is pre-registration required?
- Real breeds or fantasy breeds or any breeds?
- Any other restrictions?
- If it is a group show, so they have to be registered with the group?
- Make them easy to find, this is the main thing most people are interested in!
- Don't add too many classes; most people will only have time to enter one or two, and many people will miss their preferred discipline in a long list
- The more detailed the description, the better:
- Instead of just plain show jumping, give examples of jumps and their heights
- For endurance or cross country, give examples of the obstacles and terrain
- For pleasure driving, indicate a specific carriage or type of cart to use
- For dressage, list what moves they can perform and what level it is
- Details like this can be added for any class, and make your class distinct from other shows with the same class
- Anything specifically required or prohibited? Let them know up front!
- Is tracing allowed or not?
- Anything else you want to draw attention to or require should be emphasized in the rules.
- Are entries posted somewhere? Everyone wants to know that their entry won't be missed when they are judged.
- Make it distinct! A generic field or dirt arena is not distinct.
- What time of year is it held? What time of day is it held?
- What is the weather like?
- Where is it geographically?
- Is it held indoors our outdoors? If indoors, what does the inside of the building look like?
- What kind of terrain and vegetation will be in the background? Mountains and pines? Palm trees and sand dunes?
- Point prizes are the most expensive, but usually the biggest draw
- Art prizes are a very big draw, but time consuming to complete and frequently get forgotten and never completed
- Designs are good only if the person is looking for new horses
- Free breedings are good only in the person wants new horses and has horses of the same breed in their stable
- Breed imports are usually only good if you are holding a created-breed show; the chances of the winner wanting a horse of that specific breed if they don't already have one are slim.
- Ribbons are generally expected, but aren't much of a draw on their own.
- How is the show judged? It is best to be as up front and detailed about this as possible so people don't feel cheated.
- Some people feel very strongly about random number judging. In general, this should be less than 25% of the score of an effort based show.
- Do you request or require extra images? A lot of people like them for plot reasons, but most people prefer them to be optional.
- If you will post people's score in the results, let them know beforehand. Some people don't like their score being posted publicly, and others prefer it for fairness' sake.
- Who will be judging? Be sure to say if you or other judges will be entering the event.
- Are there ways to get bonus points? Make sure people know how much they will be worth.
- When will the show be judged? Be up front if it will take a while, and post updates on judging progress! People will remember and refuse to enter future shows if you take too long to post results.
- If there will be titles such as Champion, how is that chosen? Do you have to enter a certain number of classes to be eligible?
Some groups require a specific format to advertise your show with them. Generally you want the most important information (Run date, type of show, classes, restrictions) at the top.
If people can't read it, they are unlikely to join in.
- Use a simple theme that doesn't make your font disappear into a complex background.
- Use a clear font and contrasting but not glaring font color. You don't want your viewers to be in pain trying to read the rules.
- Use headers (you can use the stash writer in the top bar to make these) to keep things organized.
- Use good grammar, capitalization and punctuation. This will make you appear organized and less likely to lose an entry or forget to run the show on time.
How do you advertise your show?
Your watchers will probably see you post the show journal, but you may have to remind them if they miss it or if it is a group show!
You may ask or require people who enter your show to advertise it to their watchers. Some people find this annoying and may avoid your show if you require them to do this, but it is a good way to reach people who aren't already watching you. A better alternative may be to make advertising optional, but to award bonus points for it.
It is a good idea to require people to link back to your show in their show entry so anyone who sees the entry will be able to find the show.
There are groups out there specifically for advertising sales or shows. Be sure to format your journal in the way they request or they may reject your submission. Also be sure to read their rules before posting your ad with them.
Contact Related Groups
- Find discipline groups or breed groups related to your show and note them. (Check to make sure they are an active group first.)
- Posting an ad on a group's profile without their permission can be considered spamming and many people see it as very rude.
- Explain in your note why you are contacting them in particular, and why you think their members would be interested in your show. If they agree, they will probably post something about it for you.
- Be polite, and say thank you!
- As with groups, it is better to send a note than to post on someone's profile.
- Make sure you mention why you think they would be interested in your show (have they competed in that discipline recently? Have they mentioned they were looking for a show to enter? Do they have an active horse of that breed?)
- It is better to contact people individually then to use group messages. Let them see that you took the time to contact them specifically.
- Be very polite, and don't be mean if they aren't interested or don't have time.
- Be nice to those who choose to enter! No one likes to be berated, even if you think they aren't putting enough effort into their entries for your show or are taking too long to finish their entries.
- Commenting only on entries by your friends or by really popular artists makes you look like you will be biased in your judging. Leaving a nice comment on every entry makes people feel appreciated.
- If you don't want people to forget about your show, you may have to remind them by updating the journal with "Two months left", etc.
- Stay on top of things! Don't make a list of entries if you don't intend to keep it updated.
- If you fail to come through with running the show on time or awarding promised prizes, people WILL remember and they WILL hold it against you the next time you hold a show.
- If people break a rule or miss something in the setting, let them know as soon as possible so they have a chance to fix it.
- It is good to give people incentives like bonus points to turn in their entries early. Their entries can act as free advertising, and remind other people to finish their entries.
- Choose a run time appropriate to your show. The more effort, extra images, or entries you want people to put into it, the more time they will need.
- Remember that people have lives outside of HARPG, and are probably working on entries to shows other than just yours.
- Answer questions promptly; people might be waiting on your response to decide if they want to enter or not.
- Don't go be too ambitious- 5 is usually a good maximum number of classes to start out with if you haven't had successful shows before.
- Don't be too limiting- hosting a fantasy Arabian only showjumping show may not get you a ton of entries.