Show Season Planning 101

Let's be honest: I am actually done with show planning. I mean I have done it already in November. I am more than prepared. Actually, I could show right away. But let us step back a bit and get an idea of how I do my show planning for the upcoming season.

Little black book that holds it all
Usually, a preliminary show calendar is published by the Austrian federation around October. The nine Austrian federal states have independent meetings to discuss their own planning and hand it over to the Austrian federation for final decisions. So until November time frame, things might not be set in stone but should fairly work out. Whenever there is the first preliminary calender published, I start my work.

I print a year's calendar in A3 format. In my first draft, I enter all shows possible, meaning the ones in Carinthia, the ones in Styria and in case I know it already, the ones that are part of a trophy or cup. These might be in other federal states or even other countries like this year.

The memo (board)!

We have around 10-12 shows in Carinthia and around 18 in Styria. So that means that on some weekends there is more than one show. There are two possible ways to rule those double bookings out: either, the category does not match my show goals for this season or one of the shows is part of a cup, a trophy etc.

My show goals for this year are that I need to get at least four results at LP level (which is generally speaking an easy form of a third level test) above 62%. LPs are at CDN-Bs or CDN-As most of the time - so that rules out most of the CDN-Cs. That one is easy.

Then there is cups and trophies. This year, the Alps Adriatic Dressage Trophy will take place in Austria and Slovenia. So the Slovenia date is a must, the two other qualifiers are in Austria, both at the same venue. The first qualifier is also the first show of the season in Carinthia, and the last qualifier is the last show on my calendar anyway. So no problem with that.

Other than that, I hope to be able to ride another year in the Dressurtour Styria. This year, I would have to enter at least I guess 8 shows at LP or M level (that's third level, real third level). I am not sure yet whether I can make it as this would mean at least three shows in Styria.

What else do we have? There will be Championships as well this year. There are no Austrian Haflinger Championships but Regional Haflinger Championships. For the first time ever I guess, two different ones, at different levels. I will go for the higher level one as this will take place at my barn. So that date is set, too. Apart from that, there will be Carinthian Team Championships again. As we already think of setting up teams, I need to consider that date as fixed, too.

Shows, shows everywhere (color coding pink as you could guess)

Now there is a new component to my show season planning. The last few years it was not a big deal to go without my trainer. Now, with all that flying changes thingy going on, I need some help. Thus, I will probably not go to shows on my own as I used to do. Good thing is that my trainer shows a lot, too. And many of the shows that I have chosen so far, are shows that she will attend as well.

Still, there are some blank spaces on my calendar. These I fill up with fancy places, or just nice shows, where I know that people put that little extra effort in, where there is a nice place to stay nearby or anything similar. Sure, there are tons of fancy places around but at this point, some are still out of reach. Some of the nice locations in Styria are on the list as I need entries there for the Dressurtour anyway.

After all that choosing and shifting and scratching, I start a whole new calendar and fill in only the shows chosen. That calendar goes to my memo board in the kitchen. Then, I write another overview calendar for my Moleskine, enter all the dates in the overview there and on the respective day as well. A lot of writing!

The smaller version as overview in my Moleskine
The second overview, now directly IN my Moleskine
And the actual entry
Around 1-3 months before the show, the schedules are published. As everywhere else, you can see then the tests offered and you have at least up to three weeks in advance time to submit your participation online. The day before the show, you have to call the show secretary and tell them which tests you are going to ride and around 8pm the night before, the starting lists are published online.

The first schedule of this year - EVENTUALLY!

So it is always exciting when the schedules come out. I print them, I mark the tests I want to ride, I make sure that I do not miss the deadline for entering (I highlight it on the print out, put it in my Moleskine a week before the deadline and on the actual deadline just to be sure I do NOT miss it). After that, I go through the tests I plan to ride and start to adjust my training accordingly. Meaning I know now that I will have to ride the flying changes before M and H in all three tests of the first show weekend. Thus, I will not school the flying changes at X or at A or at C.

Still not sure whether I will ride these in April...
And as easy as that, show season can come!

Do you have any tips and tricks on how to organize yourself?

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