How technology helps our return to competition

Photo © Carly Nasznic

BY MEG KRUEGER

After losing several months to show cancellations and delays, competitors in the US and Canada are very eager to get back into the show ring.  

So, what does the new Covid-19 show environment mean for our day to day lives, and how can technology help improve our horse show experience now as we return, and in the future?

Horse show technology 101 

Many horse shows across the US and Canada use technology to facilitate their event’s operation. Horse show management software can do everything from processing a competitor’s online entries, managing client accounts (classes, stabling, feed/bedding, other amenities, fees, class splits, etc), processing payments, sending emails, receiving equine health documentation, etc.  

These programs also support the events by producing schedules, class counts, and orders of go, managing adds/scratches, and at the end of the day, tabulating class results and prize money payouts.  

Long gone are the days of managing horse shows with mainstream programs like excel; today, sophisticated show management software programs are integral components of efficient horse show management. 

Automating manual horse show processes 

Horse show process automation benefits both the show organizer and the competitor. Through the adoption of technology, horse shows can operate more efficiently, minimize error and improve the participant experience. 

For show offices that have embraced online entries, the entire entry process can exist with minimal human interaction (particularly beneficial in our current Covid-19 environment), and an expedited speed of communication. Using a smartphone at the warm up ring to add or scratch a horse, checking live ring status from the barns, and watching a horse’s round from the comfort of an owner’s home or office are just some of the perks a digital horse show software can provide. 

Another benefit of using a digital show management system is that many software companies integrate with others to provide additional services or specialized features. 

eVet’s integration with show management software providers is designed to increase user experience and entry efficiency when validating equine health documents. “Competitors can digitally provide horse health information such as Coggins and vaccinations at the time of online entry, rather than providing printed records upon arrival at the venue,” says Barb Blasko, founder of eVet.  

“Once a horse’s account is linked to the online entry platform, providing horse health documents to events throughout the season becomes an automatic / instant process, saving time and administrative hassle down the road.” 

How has Covid-19 impacted the use of horse show technology? 

Jon Kassel with Show Management System has spent many years building and enhancing his platform. As one of the largest software providers in the US and Canada servicing hunter and jumper disciplines and venues, SMS has emerged from recent Covid-19 months with interesting insight on how horse show management and competitors have embraced the increased use of technology. 

With the impacts of regional restrictions on large gatherings, during the month of June, consumer demand for participation in competitions was greater than the available supply of horse shows. Because public health restrictions also limited the availability of other summer leisure activities that people could safely pursue, SMS saw rapid activity at the time of horse show enrollments. Horse shows announcing the opening of online entries were sold out within days, and waitlists surpassed several hundred horses.  

Interestingly, Kassel observed that some of the small and local horse shows he works with were initially quick to pivot to using the newest technology features available with SMS software. “Many shows now only offer a “virtual” show office,” Kassel explains, “with adds and scratches done remotely, and all competitors checking out via their phone or computer.”

Kassel has appreciated the opportunity to use these events as test beds to address any issues that would have been unworkable at a larger circuit, where the staff and competitors are justifiably wary of too many changes. By July, many large horse show organizers introduced online entry, add/scratch and check out features to save time for their competitors and staff, and safely run events under Covid-19 health protocol. 

What does the future of horse show technology hold?  

For Kassel, the future of digital adoption for horse show online entry is bright. 

“I can offer that every competitor that has used our on-line tools has continued to do so rather than switching back to doing things in person. I think that now that the changes are here, they’re here to stay.”

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