Grow Eventing – Holly Jacks-Smithers kicks it off in Ontario with a practical approach
Eventing is dying in Ontario. This year, Eventers have witnessed a disturbing drop in entries and as a result, many of the favourite and traditionally biggest shows, including Glen Oro and Grandview dropped from two-day to one-day shows. Dreamcrest cancelled the Intermediate level in the spring and cancelled the fall show altogether because of lack of entries.
This matters for anyone who events as a hobby as the number of shows are reduced so choices become very limited. This especially matters to riders who rely on earning income from the sport through coaching and selling Eventing horses.
If you are an Eventer and whether or not you are a young rider, adult amateur or professional, to keep the sport alive and growing we all have a responsibility to do our part to help Eventing flourish.
We are happy to bring you this new series “Grow Eventing” with ideas and tips about how we can all contribute to ensuring this sport grows and continues to be viable.
There have been a few online discussions that we have been monitoring as people banter around ideas and suggestions to bring new riders into the sport. In the last couple of weeks, Holly Jacks-Smither came up with a brilliant suggestion that I had to share. Over Facebook she published this invitation:
In an effort to grow eventing at the grassroots in Ontario, I’m giving anybody who wants to try xc schooling for the first time a free xc lesson. Come on all you hunter jumper and dressage riders, once you try it you will be hooked ! I will be schooling at different venues for the next month weekly, so shoot me a message!
Amazingly, Holly received over 100 enquiries. She limited the response to people who have never competed in Eventing. At the moment, she has introduced over 12 new riders to Eventing. Imagine the impact if only half of them sign up for Events next year in Ontario?
Holly has a full business schedule and works seven days a week with an abundant clientele. She was able to fit this schooling in with ‘newbies’ this fall as her competition schedule was a little lighter than usual. She did not make this effort to grow her business, but rather to invest in her future. She says, “I don’t need clients right now, but I will in five years. So I have to make sure that Eventing continues to have a viable path in Ontario where I reside.”
It is very likely that every single Eventer knows a rider with a horse who competes in a different discipline. If you have a vested interest in keeping Eventing alive and growing, invite a friend to take a lesson with you and your coach. Ask your coach if they would be willing to take on one of your friends for a free cross-country lesson to try out the sport. If the coach cannot do it for free, still ask your friend to join you!
For coaches, try and fit in a day where you can invite riders with horses to try a cross-country lesson with you. Holly made sure that all riders had helmets and vests. Be sure to maintain the safety standard for beginners.
We can all meet and brainstorm ways to grow the sport until the cows come home, but the truth is… Eventing needs to grow at the grassroots by the people who love it. Current riders, coaches and fans are the most influential and best ambassadors.
We challenge you to bring one new rider to sign-up for an Event in 2018. If every rider can bring one, we will double the entries from last year. This tip applies worldwide. Even if you live in an area where Eventing is flourishing, continuing to grow the sport globally will make it more appealing everywhere. Everyone wins.
Invite a friend…Grow Eventing!