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Copyright 2008 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

Economy & Fuel Prices Affecting Events  

By Dorinda Troutman, RMR Staff Writer

 

August 2008 Issue

 

     Here at Rocky Mountain Rider Magazine, we have wondered how the high cost of gas and diesel has been affecting attendance of events throughout our region and the U.S. We asked event managers and coordinators for their feedback, and to discover how they are coping.

     Dr. John Xanthopoulos is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Education, University of Montana Western , and owner of J & S Sporthorses, in Dillon , Montana . He is also a U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) judge in Hunt Seat Equitation and Hunter.

     “Our spring horse show, the Professional Horsemen’s Association Rocky Mountain Chapter ‘Spring Classic Hunter/Jumper Show,’ held June 6–8, 2008, in Missoula, MT, was down in exhibitors by 30 to 35 percent this year,” says show manager Dr. Xanthopoulos.

     “I’ve been talking to colleagues around the U.S. , and all of the small, one- or two-day events are down about 30 percent in competitors. With the larger, longer shows, especially on the East Coast, people can go and stay a week or two at one place, and don’t need to drive as far a distance, and so they’re not hit as hard.

     “With feed, food and other necessities costing so much, the obvious answer is that fuel costs are keeping people from going to shows, especially in places like Montana , where much longer distances are traveled.”

     Barbara Williams, an AQHA Show Secretary in Hayden, Idaho, who travels around the Northwest working at AQHA shows, says, “I’m definitely hearing that gas and the increased cost of everything is affecting how many people are going to shows, all across the country. Some smaller shows are even canceling.

     “A few shows in the Northwest have the same number of competitors, or are even a little bit up, but they are the shows in larger cities like Spokane , Washington , and Kalispell , Montana . These shows are closer to competitors’ homes and are scheduled just a few days apart.

     “Those folks who live farther north would normally have included the Nampa Show in southwest Idaho in their circuit, but are not traveling as far this year. I was told that the large AQHA show in Medford , Oregon , was down about 15% and that 200 stalls weren’t filled.”

     Monica Cassidy, Secretary of the Big Sky Morgan Horse Association in Montana , told RMR, “We had a great Extreme Trail Challenge event in 2007. More than 40 people came and they all said they couldn’t wait until next year, but this year only four people registered for it. We were so disappointed, we decided to cancel at the last minute.

     “We didn’t hear directly from people why, but we just assumed it was the economy and fuel prices. Our club also decided to have meetings every three to four months instead of once a month for the same reason. We are only having one trail ride this year, too, because of fuel prices.”

     John South, General Manager of the National Senior Pro Rodeo Association, says, “Our January and February rodeos held in Arizona had good attendance. But then, after March, we were severely affected.

     Members are still going to rodeos, but they are choosing their trips carefully and staying in the smaller circuits, trying to buddy up. Rough stock riders can pile three in a car and go, but competitors pulling horses can’t do that.

     “We had good attendance at the Hamilton , Montana , rodeo, but we were still down to 250 competitors from 300 the year before. I’d guess we’re down about 10 to 40 percent from last year overall. We’re trying real hard to make the best of it — trying to make something happen.”

     Debbie Conley, Utah State Director of the National Barrel Horse Association (NBHA), says, “Barrel Racers are buddying up big time.

     “Last year you would see two horses in a four-horse trailer; now that trailer is full. Entries are definitely down – I’d say about 25%. Riders have to pick and choose where to go now, and a lot of events are just too far away.

     “I’m also District Director of northern Utah , southern Idaho and Wyoming NBHA barrel events, and a lot of people didn’t come from far away this year. They chose to go to the big Western National in Ogden , but then not go to other, smaller events that were far away from home.”

     Kandi Pendleton , Wyoming State Director of the NBHA, says, “Our club sent out an e-mail in May to all of our members asking them how gas prices might affect their summer barrel racing plans and number of events they would attend. Twelve percent said gas prices were not affecting them; 52% said they were staying within 100 miles of home; 51% said they were cutting down the number of events they planned to attend; and six percent said they were postponing all travel plans.

     “We eliminated late fees at our last futurity and derby in an attempt to encourage more people to come, but we were down about 20% anyway. Folks who came appreciated not paying late fees, but it didn’t change anyone’s plans.”

     Pendleton is also Event Coordinator at the Sweetwater Events Complex in Rock Springs , Wyoming . “We’ve seen a 20 to 30% decrease in overall attendance at the complex,”she says.

     Kathleen Henkel, Executive Director of the American Endurance Ride Conference, says, “We’ve had a slight drop in attendance, but we are just in the mid-part of the year.

     “I have heard from individual ride managers that competitor attendance is down. In our June newsletter, our President, Mike Maul, suggested ride-sharing, reducing speed when hauling a trailer, and general vehicle maintenance. Lots of times people forget those simple things we can do to help get better mileage.”

     AERC President Mike Maul, who lives in Texas , elaborated on his recent newsletter column by saying, “People going to events could get as much as a 10% reduction in fuel usage by slowing down from 65 to 60 mph, a 40 cent per gallon difference. A 25% reduction is possible by dropping from 75 to 60 mph, a dollar per gallon difference. One of the largest trucking companies in the U.S. , with 8,500 rigs, recently reset their governors in all their trucks to 62 mph and is saving $4 million a year in fuel.

     “We’re not seeing an overall attendance drop, but we are seeing more people going to multi-day events and fewer people going to single day events. More people are sharing rides. I just shared a ride to an event in New Mexico with my horses and saved $350.”

     To view more of Maul’s ideas on fuel cost reduction, go to www.aerc.org/ENjune08pres.asp.

     Readers, please send us your feedback about how high fuel costs are changing your horse habits. Are you attending fewer events? Are you staying closer to home to trail ride and camp? Do you have any mileage-saving tips that you would like to share with other horse owners?

     Email us at editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

Copyright 2008 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

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