The State of the Sport in Ontario
Spring has finally arrived and the first event of the season will be upon us before we know it! If the weather would only cooperate, we would be all set!
2016 was a very difficult year for Eventing in Ontario. Most events that were scheduled as 2 day events all dropped down to 1-day, with the exception of one Horse Trial in May.
Our overall entries dropped by almost 500 entries in 2016 to 3201 from 3712 in 2015. A decline that significant could not be ignored and it was time we tried to determine WHY?? We conducted a membership survey asking for feedback regarding the state of the sport. With the 2017 show season approaching quickly, the OHTA has been working hard in attempts to address the issues from the survey.
The survey ran throughout the month of August, with the majority of the questions designed for us to learn of the demographic of our members and of those responding.
44% of the Membership responded
59% held a Senior Competitive License
77% Adult Amateurs
64% Actively competing in 2016
72% Attended Sanctioned HT
The most important question on the survey was the last one –
WHAT ARE YOUR COMMENTS REGARDING THE STATE OF EVENTING IN ONTARIO?
We carefully read through all of your responses and took your feedback directly to both the Organizers and Equestrian Canada.
Cost – There was consistent feedback about how much entry fees have increased in the past few years.
It might be interesting to note the comparison of entry fees from 10 years ago:
In 2006 – Entry level = $120 Intermediate = $180
In 2016 – Entry level = $190 Intermediate = $280
Particularly for the lower levels, that is not a huge increase for a decade, especially when you consider the biggest increase came a few years ago to incorporate the HST, which works out to be approx. $25-$35/entry.
What is included in entry fees? Here is an example:
Training level fee (average) = $230
Of that, $12 is Canadian Eventing levy
$5 OHTA levy
$30 HST (average)
$7 Drug Fee
$12 Ambulance Fee
That leaves $164 to run 3 phases ($55/phase)
Organizers then have to pay officials, course builders, materials, port-a-potties, mortgages, etc.
At the end of this summary there is an open letter to all from one of our Organizers, who helps shed some light on the sport from an Organizers perspective.
An on-going struggle for competitors and parents alike is the multiple memberships and the cost of those memberships. In Ontario, you are required to hold 4 membership – Equestrian Canada, Canadian Eventing, PHTA/OHTA and OEF.
The OHTA is only able to speak to our our fees, but as far as our PHTA/OHTA membership fees are concerned, we are right down the middle of Canada. From most to least expensive – BC, AB, MB, ON, QC, NS, NB, PEI.
For parents with a child wanting to compete at Pre-Entry, they still need to spend $128.50 in full memberships. Luckily, if you are new to the sport or for those only on planning to attend one or two events, some of those can be purchased on a Day Membership basis (the OHTA & Canadian Eventing).
For an adult amateur (the majority of our membership) full memberships will run $172.95 for 2017.
There was consistent feedback throughout the survey and verbally throughout the year regarding the scheduling of the calendar for 2016. There were great concerns about the Intermediate events not being spread out, event venues that are close geographically running on back to back weekends, a void in the schedule for August and even complaints about one-day events running on Saturday rather than on Sunday.
All of your voices were heard and taken directly to the Organizers. Hopefully, the 2017 calendar will be more to everyone’s liking.
While safety is paramount in everyones’ minds, sometimes while trying to mitigate the risk, you spoil the sport. The governing bodies seem to be struggling to find a balance between safety and the enjoyment of our sport, leading to complaints about (in particular) the lower levels being too governed.
As already discussed, entry fees and memberships are expensive and when little Chrissy pops off her pony and lands on her feet in the show jumping ring on her way to fence 2, her day is done. Even if the Ground Jury and Organizers allow her to continue Hors Concours for schooling purposes, it is just not quite the same as being “part of the show”. A disappointing outcome to some.
There was also mention of some frustration over the show-jumping heights. Many feel as though there is too big of a gap between Pre-Training & Training and Training & Preliminary.
Together we are trying to build a better sport for you. We are listening and we are doing what we can to help grow this sport in Ontario with exciting new initiatives coming in 2017.
Reminder – We are currently in the period for Equestrian Canada to accept rule changes via their Rule Change Portal, which will be open from January 1 – May 31. Any member of Equestrian Canada (in good standing) is welcome to submit a rule change. The portal can be found here https://licence.equinecanada.ca/rulechange
AN OPEN LETTER TO RESPONDERS TO SURVEY
I would like to thank everybody who took the time to respond to the OHTA survey. The information gathered is invaluable. However the survey showed us a lot of misconceptions and I would like to respond to some of the criticisms of Organisers. Many people think that Organisers are gouging the competitors with exorbitant entry fees. I would like to show you a breakdown of expenses that the sites incur in order to put on an event. I am taking an average event for 2016 which would have had 160 entries and run over two days.
Firstly, you have to have a facility. This facility has to have at least three dressage rings, a show jumping ring and cross country courses. In addition you must purchase Dressage arenas, letters a set of show jumps and fake flowers and brush to decorate. You will need tractors, mowers, rollers, ring conditioners and harrows. The initial minimum outlay for this is about $280,000 (Not including the value of your farm)
TO RUN AN EVENT YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR THE FOLLOWING:-
Officials will cost you $10,000.00. Medical and Veterinary $1,500.00.
Catering and Lodging for Officials and Volunteers $996.00.
Toilets and tent $1,840.00
Ribbons, Prizes and Office photocopying $1,250.00
XCountry course preparation, jumps, mowing etc $6,500.00
Dressage ring and show jump painting and maintenance plus purchase of additional fake flowers and brush to replace those lost or damaged $500.00
Loss of wages or payment to casual labour for flagging, numbering, roping set up of dressage and stadium rings plus after the event is over you have to take it all down again. $1,000.00
TOTAL OUT OF POCKET $23,586.00
IF YOU RECEIVE 160 ENTRIES AT AN AVERAGE OF $240.00 YOU WILL GET $38,400.00
FOR EVERY $240.00 ENTRY, $55.20 COMES OFF IN LEVIES, DRUG FEES AND HST.
THIS LEAVES YOU WITH $29,568.00 FOR A “PROFIT” OF $5,982.00
YOU HAVE NOT PAID YOUR MORTGAGE, TAXES, OR TAKEN ANY DEPRECIATION ON THE FACILITY OR EQUIPMENT OR TAKEN A SALARY YOURSELF FOR ALL THE HOURS THAT YOU HAVE SPENT FLAGGING, STAINING, NUMBERING PAINTING AND DECORATING THE COURSE.
IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE THESE FIGURES THEN READ ON:-
The first thing that has to be done is apply to Equestrian Canada for a permit. The fee depends on what level of competitions you are running and what prize money you are offering. $50.00 to $100.00
Your officials do not come cheap ( For good reason. The cost of attending mandatory educational seminars, often across the country with air fares, hotel and car rental costs plus accreditation fees means that our officials are not getting rich.)
Most judges charge between $300 and $400 per day for a two day show that would average out at $2,100.00.
TDs come to do a pre-inspection of the course plus attend the day before and the two days of competition. This will cost you between $1,050.00 to $1,250.00
The secretary normally charges per entry, their fees average out at around $5.00 to $7.00/entry.
The scorers normally work in pairs with their costs being around $600 for two days.
The announcer/Controller will set you back between $400 and $500 per weekend.
A recognised Show Jumping designer will charge between $250 and $400 per day, say $600 for the weekend. You may want to rent electronic timers as well.
Next you have the cross country course designer and the cross country course builder. Their fee will depend on how much work needs to be done and how long it will take. A good designer can design a track on a site that is familiar to him in a day or two. He will return to see that the builder has followed his instructions and should be there on the days of competition to see the courses ridden. The builder will spend a minimum of a week working on the course including a day on brushing and half a day on footing. However he may take up to two weeks if there are a lot of new builds involved.
Additional officials include Safety Officers, Volunteer Coordinators and Timers. If you are lucky they will volunteer but some require a stipend.
Now we come to the medical and veterinary requirements. Having an ambulance on site with trauma trained personnel is very expensive. They must be on the grounds whenever anybody is jumping, but we find that we have as many accidents in the parking lot as on course, so you need them there for the entire time. It is strongly recommended that a veterinarian be on grounds. It is very hard to find one willing to come and the kind souls who donate their time are few and far between. You can easily pay $400 just to have them on grounds for Cross Country.
You now have your small army of officials to the tune of around $10,000.00. Every army marches on its stomach and this one is no exception. You must feed, and if necessary house your officials plus pay mileage for an additional cost of $700.00 ( Two officials B & B at $100/night per person, plus lunches and dinners, plus lunches for all the other officials.)
Next comes your second army, these are the hard working volunteers. Your jump judges, score runners, scribes, ring crew, stewards, parking attendants and tack check officials. All these people need feeding and looking after if you want them to come again. Your catering bill will run you around $8.00/head. (Coffee and donuts when they arrive, sandwiches or burgers, fruit, snacks and drinks and something at the end of the day) You may wish to throw a party for them or take them to dinner as a thank you again more dollars. Let’s say 37 volunteers per day will cost $296.00 and an extra $2,000 more if you want to take them out after the event.
When you have a lot of people you need a lot of toilets, rental fees run around $165.00 per toilet If you want them serviced on the Saturday night you pay an extra $15.00 (who doesn’t want them serviced there is nothing worse than a filthy Johnny on the Spot.) Say Goodbye to $1,440.00
You may need to rent a tent or provide one of your own for mustering your officials. We find that ours only last a couple of years and then the wind ruins them so there is a constant cost plus the time it takes to erect the tent. Let’s say $400.00/ year. If you rent a proper tent it will cost $1,500.00.
Your competitors want ribbons, nice ribbons, because they want the classes divided into Junior, Senior and Open. If you run six divisions you will be ordering eighteen sets of ribbons. Ribbons do not cost $2.00/ribbon, rather for our event they normally cost around $450.00. Organisers try very hard to get good prizes, sometimes they are lucky and get a sponsor but often it comes out of their pocket, so we can say at least $1,000.00 for ribbons and prizes.
Our event differs from others in that we rent the parking area and barn from our neighbours. This cost $3,000.00 for the weekend. Then, because of the distance between properties we rent eight man golf carts to run a shuttle for riders and spectators. This cost us a further $1,500.00.
The outlay that you have for your cross country course is enormous, jumps have a lifespan of five years if you are lucky. Each jump costs between $300 and $800.00 with banks, steps, sunken roads costing a lot more. Your water jump will cost around $20.000.00, So every year you are replacing jumps. Nobody wants to ride round the same course so the courses must continually change. Lumber and supplies get more expensive every year. You have to purchase sand and gravel to repair footing. If the summer is dry and your footing gets hard you may have to aerate. We re-stain all our jumps every year to keep them looking fresh and to help prevent rotting from the elements. A gallon of stain they cost around $35.00 and one gallon only does a couple of jumps. The new safety regulations require breakaway cups for show jumping, frangible pins and Mimm Clips on XCountry as well as safety flags for skinnies. All these are expensive. Totalling approximately $6,000.00/Year.
Mowing and weed-whacking takes forever and uses huge amounts of gas. Dressage rings require footing maintenance and upgrade. Wear and tear on the tractors and mowers requires repairs and replacement costs. This costs around $1,500.
Dressage rings cost around $3,000.00, putting them up and taking them down causes wear and tear and the need to replace some panels and letters. Show jump courses cost many thousands of dollars, as they deteriorate and get broken during warm up and competition, requiring continuous replacement costs, plus they need repainting every couple of years. $500.00
Cross country courses do not flag or number themselves. Roping and dressage rings don’t put themselves up and show jumping courses do not magically appear. Organisers have to either pay somebody to do this or do it themselves. I am self employed and have to take at least a week off work before each event to get all these tasks done. In addition, maps have to be drawn and photocopied along with dressage tests, score sheets and start lists – $1,000.00.
Once the event has come and gone, hopefully you will receive a few emails from people saying they enjoyed it. Unfortunately, you will also get the ones saying that it was awful!! Now you have to start taking down the flags, numbers and decorations, putting away the dressage rings and show jumps.
You now think you can take all your cheques to the bank and reap the profit! Unfortunately no, off the top of the fees comes 13% HST, $7.00/horse drug testing fee, $5.00/horse One Event at a Time levy, $12.00/horse Canadian Eventing Levy.
You have worked hundreds of hours without pay, you have to pay your mortgage, taxes and other overheads for running your farm. Are you getting rich and gouging the competitors? I don’t think so.
We are lucky to have grants from the OHTA. They pick up the mileage costs for the TD. They help with designer costs for show jumping and cross country. The Competition Improvement Program gives us help with major outlays. If it weren’t for this, many of us would not be running events.
I HOPE THAT THIS LETTER HAS GIVEN YOU FOOD FOR THOUGHT. RUNNING AN EVENT IS VERY HARD WORK. TAKE TIME TO THANK ORGANISERS AND PERHAPS YOU CAN THINK ABOUT GIVING BACK TO YOUR SPORT BY VOLUNTEERING, IT WILL GIVE YOU A WHOLE NEW PERSPECTIVE ON THINGS.
THANKS FOR READING THIS,