Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Evolution of Field of Dolls Studio

Sometimes it's fun to look back at the beginning and see how far you have come. This particular blog post is very well timed (by chance not by design). The very first blog I posted was last December and it was about my dolls and how far they have come. I have a bunch of photos today so this should be fun.
First I should probably start with the beginning of my "studio" because the title of this post would imply that that is a good idea. I started out under the farm name of Green Acres Farm. Some people think it was a reference to old TV shows but really it was a joke about some of our neighbors. The land we live on is NOT farmland by any stretch of the imagination. It may have been at one time but bad septic tanks and sewer issues have wrecked that possibility. Yet one of our neighbors tried to start a farm in the mess of weeds in the field behind us. I wish I had pictures of how it used to be. It was a fun place to explore for anyone that likes plants and trying to identify plants (like me). But then they bulldozed all of it to farm. So there were jokes about "Green Acres Farm" and when I started holding photo shows I needed a name and Green Acres became the one. *sigh* sometimes I have no imagination.
My email address really gave me the next studio name. My name is Anne and I do crafts of all kinds (which is how I got my super clever email address, lol) so since I didn't like Green Acres I was then Anne's Crafts. I had lots of business cards with that name as well and the old freewebs address.
Then as my dolls started to evolve and improve I really wanted something more professional but fun at the same time. I don't imagine I will ever become one of those serious people. But as I proved to myself with the Green Acres thing I can have very little imagination. And names stick. So I ran a contest and figured I would get input on studio names. This was last year right after region X regionals where I told everyone I saw that "everybody needs dolls" (which is true of coarse) so I got that as a suggestion, Got Dolls? And a whole list of other names as well. Nancy Timm asked what my married name was going to be and when I told her Field she came up with Field of Dolls. And it stuck in my head and no other names sounded as nice so that is how I became Field of Dolls Studio.
Then the fun started. I got a real website, new business cards with my new studio name, my new name, my new web address and so on. And the blogging has been a bit more interesting and slightly more consistent. We'll see what happens next I guess.
Now for a brief photo tour of some of the dolls from the beginning until now.

This was one of the original dolls I made. She sold on MH$P for $40. I think besides her colors she is not that impressive.
This was one of the first dolls I made as well. I believe she sold on eBay and prompted a similar custom order.

This was the first "convertible" doll I made. She had several articles of removable clothes and could do several different types of classes. She was not super but she was the first, I was very new (she cost very little) and you have to start somewhere.
This was the first nice photo I had of any of my dolls. Well this series of photos, this is only one of them. I didn't take them though, Liesl Dalpe took them for me with her camera. My photos have (occasionally) gotten better but I am still not a super photographer.

The 2 tone doll was fun and I think she is very eye catching. I may do some more of these in the future but I don't know if they would be popular. I like it anyway.

This was the first doll bought by my good friend, Joan Fauteux. Funny enough this doll is also how we became friends. She lives pretty close to me and when she asked if we could get together so she could see if the doll fit her saddle I said sure. So we played dolls, had a great time and formed a friendship. Joan now has 10 or 11 of my dolls and may get a blog of her own one of these days. That could be fun.
This was the first studio photo shoot I got to do. When I have time I go and work with my friend Liesl in her studio. I got to borrow her camera and use her photo backdrop. I think they came out pretty well.
This doll I made because of the blue convertible doll. I wanted to see if I could do the same doll again (well, similar anyway) but do it well. This was also the first doll that I used my sewing machine for. I think it is a marked improvement.

This is the doll I made for Ethan. He has given me 5 tattoos (his art) and I hadn't given him any dolls. So when he said he wanted a skeleton pirate I said I would do it. This guy has since gotten a new sword that is more in scale but this picture was taken quickly as Ethan was pulling into the driveway.

This guy was very fun to make and I was really pleased with how he turned out. He was a custom order for Linda Dean. She made the hat and the tack and I think the overall picture was wonderful. It was taken at Jill (Floyd) O'connor's show, Vermont Live this past April.

Well now I feel like I am rambling again so if anyone has any ideas for future blogs let me know. I still have to do one about fitted English boots but I need to have photos for that. It's coming I promise :)

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How to host a show timeline

I wrote this timeline when I was planning my wedding. I had looked at a lot of wedding planning guides and it makes sense to break down a big project in the same way. I haven't read it today so I may already say the same thing but I wanted to share. I have been meaning to post to the blog more often and I figured this was a fun document (though very lengthy, you are warned, lol!) and may help someone who is thinking of hosting a show. Some people just don't know where to start and some just need extra tips. While writing this I did get tips from several show hosts that helped improve it. In case anyone cares the photo is my awesome nephew Jack and I. I know he looks like a doll in that photo but he is one of the coolest babies I have ever met. And that included my own when they were that small. Onto the learning!

Undertaking the task of hosting a live show is a big job. But it can also be a very rewarding experience. You get to meet people in the hobby you may not have met before or may never have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. You can lay out the show in a way you have always wanted. And of course you add another showing opportunity to your region. Hosting may seem like a monumental task and it certainly is not a small job. But with some organization and sticking to a time line hosting can be easier than you think. This time line is laid out in a way that makes the “why” of the timing easy to understand. It is not absolutely essential to follow the time-line exactly, it is possible to go outside of it. But it is a guide to help make planning easier and help you to stay organized.
There are some very important things to remember when hosting a show. If you are going to apply for NAMHSA qualification you need to follow some rules. As the show holder you are NOT allowed to show in the show. Neither are your family members. It is also not proper to put together the show and then put someone else’s name as the “show secretary” on official NAMHSA paperwork. The reason for the rules are so the judging is more fair for everyone. After all, some judges might favor the horses of the person that hired them. But hosting has so many rewards that missing one day of showing is still a worthwhile experience. You have the opportunity to make an entire roomful of people happy, put together a show the way you always wanted to see it. And when you are hosting it gives you a bit more time to look at everyone else’s lovely horse collection. There are not many people in the hobby that don’t appreciate some good eye candy.
This guide is just that, a guide. It is not the only way to host a show, not by a long shot. But this is what I have worked out to be the easiest way for me. I have gotten and compiled this information from a variety of sources; other show holders, documents I have found with hosting ideas and of course, from experience. Most of the information you can alter a bit to make it work for you. You can change how you do show packets, the order you do things in or any number of other things. This is just to help you get started if you don’t know where to start. And a tool to keep you organized if you do know what to do.

Live show hosting time-line

9 months-1 year ahead of time
__Make class list
__Work on show budget
__Find show hall
__Book show hall
__Pick a charity

4-6 months ahead of time
__Line up judges
__Advertise the show
__Seek donations

2 months ahead of time
__Start work on floor plan
__Order awards
__Apply for NAMHSA approval

1 month ahead of time
__Plan opening remarks
__Check awards when they come in
__Turn in floor plan if applicable
__Work on show booklet

1 week ahead
__Sort ribbons
__Put together show booklet
__Copy judges sheets
__Copy class lists
__Put together show packets
__Organize show packets
__Plan out seating chart

1-3 days ahead of time
__Buy sodas/bottled water
__Buy snacks
__Double check hosting supplies
__Pack hosting supplies
__Get a good nights sleep

Show day
__Get up and eat breakfast
__Stop for coffee/tea/hot chocolate
__Get to hall and make sure tables are in proper place
__Set up hall
__Put out name tags
__Set up show ring markers
__Make sure P.A is all set
__Set out snacks
__Great showers as they enter
__Direct showers to tables
__Morning announcements
__Order lunch
__Use timer to keep classes moving
__Clean up and go to dinner
__Start planning next years show

9 months- 1 year ahead of time:

Make a class list:

The first thing you should do when planning a show is work on a class list. It does not have to be totally complete, but a good basic idea of what you want for classes is a good start. You can always ask advice from friends, other hosts, or the region in general to see if you missed something. It is nice to take into consideration all the ideas fellow showers come up with, but it is not possible to put everything into every show. And if you try to make everyone happy all the time, it just won’t work. Don’t dismiss suggestions instantly, they may turn out to be a great idea that didn’t occur to you.
A big reason for working on the class list before anything else is it will give you more of an idea of the space you need, the number of judges and if you know the showers in your area of the region it may give you an idea of the number of potential entrants.
There are several different types of shows you can host. You can host an all halter show, an all performance show, a combination of both or even a specialty show. Any type of show can be fun if you have enough variety that showers feel they got a good value for their time and money. It may be “your show” but there would be no show if you didn’t have entrants.

Work on a show budget:
Once you know what type of show you want to have you will have a good idea of how many judges you need. That is very important when making a show budget. It is a nice idea to pay the judges for their time and effort. In this region $50 a day is average. Sometimes the show can’t afford to pay the judges but if they know this up front that is not usually a problem. Most judges don’t expect payment but do appreciate at least some money towards their travel expenses. But the judges are the backbone of the show so if you can, pay them. Also you should plan on buying them lunch, possibly dinner and maybe a thank-you gift. If you get judges from out of town you should also figure in flights if necessary and a place for them to stay. Allowing them to show for free in a division they are not judging is usual. Having drinks available for them is a nice gesture as well. All that needs to be figured into your budget. Here is a sample list of expenses for a large all halter show.

Show hall-------------------------------$500
Judges ($50 ea X 10)---------------$500
NAN cards-------------------------------$40
Lunch for judges ($10ea)-----------$100
Photo copies---------------------------$100

Now that is a lot of money! You might wonder how you will ever get enough for that. Hosting a show is expensive but if you plan it well the show should take care of it’s own costs. The average show charges between $35 and $40 for entry. At $35 a person you would need 59 entries to cover your cost. That is very unlikely to happen. At $40 a person you would need 51 entrants. That is a bit more realistic but also quite a large number. So what do you do? Either you cut down on show costs somehow or you do fundraising (more on fundraising later). You may have to go with less expensive awards or think of other ways to cut costs. You can ask for sponsors (sometimes local retailers might sponsor a show or individuals might sponsor a division) you can plan to have a raffle a silent auction or both. Also keep in mind that the show costs are just estimated. It might not cost you $100 for photo copies, but it is better to have it in your budget than to not have it and have to find it. Also the first year of a show usually costs the most because you have to get the supplies for hosting (more on hosting supplies later).
If you have cut costs every way you can think of and are comfortable with the new total budget you should have a better idea of what you have to spend on a hall, awards and other parts of the show. Now it’s time to find a hall

Search for show halls/ set show date:

You should decide on the time of year you want to host your show. Winter is not usually a good option because travel conditions might cause last minute show problems, especially for out-of-town showers. July is not typically a show month as NAN and Breyerfest are both in that month and showers from all over the country plan to attend them. Your entries are likely to be fewer at a show in July. Spring, late Summer and Fall are better options for show dates. Be considerate when planning your show. Try to pay attention to the annual shows in the region. Don’t plan your show for the same weekend. You may cut down on your own shows entrants that way and it is not polite to take the date of an established show. If you are not sure of a date post to your regional board and ask showers about several potential dates. A quick posting to gauge interest in your possible show can get you some ideas for your show, dates of other shows in the region and very possibly a good vote of confidence. Live showers love showing. That is the way it is. New shows are usually greeted with enthusiasm and very welcome.
Once you have a couple of dates that you think would work for your show start looking for show halls. Keep in mind the size of the show you are hosting. You will need much more room for an all-inclusive show that has multiple divisions than you would for a specialty show. Ask lots of questions when deciding on a hall. Does the hall have enough tables (6 foot tables are best and remember, you need tables for show rings, donations, hosting supplies as well as for the entrants) and chairs? Is there an extra cost for them? Is there a P.A. system? Is food allowed in the hall? Is it handicap accessible? Do you have to set up the tables and chairs yourself? Is there good lighting? Are you allowed to hold a raffle? Is the hall climate controlled? There is no hard and fast rule about what type of show hall you need to get. But take into consideration the size of your show so there will be adequate space for showers to set up and move between tables without having to climb over each other, make sure the show rings are far enough apart that they won’t get bumped easily from people walking by. And lighting is essential to a good show. You can’t judge easily in the dark.
Once you have found a hall that you think is suitable, work on pricing. Remember that the fee for the hall is likely to be one of the largest parts of your budget. You can get some very good halls for reasonable money if you look around. Try churches and schools, Elks and Moose lodges, VFW halls, Knights of Columbus and any other
meeting or banquet halls you can find. Be careful of hidden costs though. I have found from experience that schools and churches may have hidden costs or different costs for different groups. Tell your contact person at the hall what you want it for (expect a few funny looks as you explain what a model horse show is) and ask what the total cost would be for certain amounts of time. Some halls will give you one flat rate for the entire day. Some charge by the hour. Some charge a flat rate for a block of hours and then more for additional hours. It is a good idea to plan to have the hall for about 12 hours including your set-up and clean-up time. That way you don’t have to rush the show too much and make yourself crazy. Hosting can be stressful enough, you don’t have to make it harder on yourself. Keep in mind your total show budget. You don’t want to spend twice as much as you planned on a hall. But also be reasonable, you can’t always get a great hall for free (that would be nice though).
Now that you have found the hall you liked and talked about pricing talk about dates. Have a couple of dates in mind in case your first choice is already booked. Once you have settled on a date you usually have to pay a deposit to hold the hall for your day (and unless you already have a show fund you may have to pay out of pocket and then pay yourself back later). Make sure you get a contract! It is very important to have your date and time locked in place so you don’t end up on show day with nowhere to hold your show. Make sure you understand the contract so there won’t be surprises later.

Pick a charity:

It is not essential to support a charity with your show but it certainly is nice. There are many worthwhile charities, both horse and non-horse related, that are in need of funds to keep their programs going. If you are thinking of supporting a charity do some research on the ones that you like to make sure any donations will be going to the actual charity and not to someone’s personal bank account. If you don’t like the way the charity is run or the way the donations are spent, pick another one. There are so many to choose from that you will have seemingly endless choices. If they have a web site you may want to bookmark it so you can send your showers a link if they are interested in the charity. It is also nice to add a bit about the charity in your show booklet if you plan on having one.

4 months-6 months ahead of time:

Start looking for judges:

As stated previously, judges are the backbone of a show. You just can’t have a show without them. To have a good show you need to have knowledgeable judges that can do their job in a timely fashion to keep the show running on time. You also want a judge that is focused on judging. Allowing them to show in a division they are not judging is nice but if they spend all their time fussing over their entries they are going to hold up a show. You can look up judges lists for potential judges, ask other show holders for ideas, post to your regional group and ask hobby friends for suggestions of who might be able and willing to judge. If you can, find out if the potential judge is qualified for the judging position they want. Having a performance judge that doesn’t know the difference between an English and Western saddle is a bad choice. Hiring a new judge is not always a bad thing. Everyone has to start somewhere, but make sure they have some background that can help them do their job. If you can it is also good to have a back-up judge that is knowledgeable in everything. Not everyone can do it all, but if you have a qualified all-around back-up judge you will have an easier time of things if one of your judges can’t make it on show day. Sometimes the unexpected happens and it is easier to be prepared. Good planning will make the show go smoothly and make it less stressful for you on show day.

Start advertising:

You need to advertise your show if you want to have entrants. There are several ways to do this and the more advertising you do, the more potential entrants you can reach. You can post on chat boards like blab, haynet or fallen leaves. You usually can get an ad in hobby publications if you get it in early enough. Put a post on your regional group, have information to pass out at other live shows you may attend. There are a number of ways to advertise your show. Also when you apply for NAN qualification the show will be listed on the NAMHSA website on the show list. Ask other hosts how they advertise as well. Sometimes you may only reach a couple of new people with a new posting, but those couple people may tell more people as well.

Start seeking donations:

Now is also a good time to start looking for donations for your show. You can email painters, tack makers, prop makers, accessory makers, model horse dealers, stuffed toy companies, etc. Pretty much anything goes if it is horse related. You can also post ads on MH$P and your regional group asking for donations for your show. Cleaning out some of your hobby items is also a way to get show donations. Some entrants will also bring things to the show to be raffled. The more items you have for your raffle, the more money you can potentially raise. Be polite when asking for donations and personalize your letter. Remember, the donors are giving you their money, time or both when they donate, be respectful of that. A sample letter seeking donations is below.

Dear Tanya Tack-Maker,
My name is Harriet show hostess. I will be hosting the model crazy bash on such-and-such a date 200_ in Plasticponyville, Fakestate. The show web site is This will be the third year I have hosted this show. Last year we had 45 entrants (if this is the first year of the show you can leave this out or say how many entrants the show hall can fit).
I saw your lovely tack on such-and-such web site and it is beautiful. I was hoping you would be able to donate something to the show. Proceeds from the show will go to the Unplanned Equine Adoption Network. Their web site is Last year we were able to raise $500 for the program. Anything you could donate would be appreciated.
Thank you for your time.

Harriet Show Hostess
Model Crazy Bash

This is of course a sample letter and the show name, people’s names and the charity as well as it’s web site are fake (my husband made up the organization name for me). But it gives you a good idea of how to write the letter. You can add more information if you wish, but it is important to have your name, the show name, date and location, the name of the charity you are supporting (if applicable), a web site for your show if you have one and the charity if they have one. It is also a good idea to say something nice to people when asking for donations. Remember, they are giving you their time and money when they donate, they should at least be treated well. It is a nice gesture to send out thank you cards or at least thank you emails after the show. You can tell them how many raffle tickets were sold or how much money was raised. Donors like to know that they are appreciated.

2 months before the show

Start working on a floor plan

Having a floor plan is important for a number of reasons. First off you need to know how many entrants, show tables and vendors you can fit in the hall without people having to climb all over each other. Some people don’t mind but it is certainly not the ideal way to hold a show. If possible you should start with the dimensions of the hall. That way you can work out (with some careful math) exactly how much you can fit. There are some things to consider when planning out your show hall.
· Make sure that fire exits are not covered and that there is a clear path to get to them.
· Make sure you have enough show ring tables so you can run divisions concurrently (and get set-up for upcoming classes) to save time. No one wants to get out of a show at 2:00 in the morning.
· Make sure you have adequate room between show tables. The judges should be able to walk between them comfortably and bend to inspect models without worry about hitting the table behind them. A good 4 feet (or more) is usually good.
· Make sure you have at least 4 feet between entrants tables, though more is better. You should be able to pull out a chair from each table. It is better to be able to pull out 2 chairs and still have room to walk between them (for the showers against the walls)
· Make sure your donations tables (if applicable) are in an easy to get to area and are not in the way of show rings or entrants tables.
Having a workable layout with plenty of room is useful for you as a show holder because it becomes a valuable show planning tool. It is also sometimes necessary to turn in a floor plan to the hall so they can set things up for you. Once you have a floor plan that works for the safety, comfort and convenience of your showers you will have relieved yourself of a good amount of stress on show day.

Order awards

Now is about the time you want to order your awards. This like many other steps in hosting a show can be done sooner if you wish, but you should have them selected and be ready to order at least 2 months before your show. The awards are some of the most fun parts of a show. It is your show so you can create the prizes you always wanted to see at a show. You need to make some decisions before ordering of course. For ease of descriptions I am going to concentrate only on flat ribbons and rosettes. You can of course come up with any number of creative and unique awards to personalize your show. You can have paper flats which saves money but takes more time since you have to come up with the design, work up a “master” sheet, make photo copies and then cut them out neatly. You could also do all the work by hand but that would take an extraordinarily long time and would add more stress than you need to your planning. You can also make hand-made neck ribbons for awards, but without helpers to aid you in assembly you will be spending a lot of time on ribbons.
Ordering custom flats is a bit more expensive than paper flats but they will be very professional looking and it saves you a lot of time in the planning process. You need to know several things before you order.
· How many classes you have in total. Make sure to order some extra flats for each class in case of splits.
· How many places you have (ex. 1-6 or 1-10)
· If the class is double judged (for both breed and collectibility/workmanship) you need double the amount of ribbons. It is also a good idea to have two shades of the ribbon color with a master chart of which color is for which section (ex. Blue for breed and light blue for collectibility/workmanship)
· What you want the ribbons to say. If you plan on doing ribbon recycling (saving the ribbons for the next year’s show to save money) you should only put the show name on it, not the date. And of coarse the placing
· What you want for a logo. Ribbon companies have a good amount of stock designs and most will let you upload your own design as well. There is almost always a fee for this service.
Once you know all those details ordering will go much more quickly. The process for ordering rosettes is similar with a few variations.
· Know what style of rosette you want, companies have many different styles of rosette from simple to elaborate. The cost for different styles also varies widely. There is also usually an extra charge for specialty ribbon and extra length.
· Know what color(s) you want your rosettes to be
The rest of the process for ordering rosettes is very similar to ordering flats. You need to know what you want on them and as some people will also recycle rosettes it is good to have the show name and placing (ex. Champion, reserve champion, top 10) but not the date. You also need a design for the center button on the rosette. Usually it is the same design you have on your flat ribbons.

Over the years I have ordered from a lot of different ribbon companies. I have found that Hodges Badge Co. is very reliable and easy to work with. I have never had problems when ordering from them. Their web address is

Apply for NAMHSA approval

This is another step that can be done much earlier if you wish but you MUST apply for NAMHSA approval no less than 60 days before your show date. Just as you need time to plan your show they need time to print up the NAN cards and get them sent out. You also need time just in case you are short on cards and need to request more. In my experience the NAMHSA show secretary is very efficient and I have never had a problem with my card count. There are usually extras included in case of class splits as well.
The process of applying is very easy. You need to have several things to apply for NAMHSA approval for your show. The complete list of rules can be found on the NAMHSA web site. click on “become a member” .Under show memberships there is a link to requirements for membership. That will give you a complete list of rules and what you need to properly apply for approval. Here is a list of the basics.
· Draft show packet: you must have the show date, show location, complete final class list (no drafts) rules, regulations and limits for showing. Name, address and phone number of person responsible for show (ex. Show secretary) an email address is useful as well.
· You also need to send a completed member show application (can be found on the NAMHSA site here
· Membership fee: the fee varies by how many NAN cards you need for your show. There is a formula on the site to figure out just how many you need. But it is pretty basic. If you are having a performance show you need 2x the number of classes you have. If it is a double judged halter show you need 2x 2x the number of classes. The reason for this is the first 2 placings in each class get a NAN card. If you are double judging you need 2 for breed and 2 for collectibility/workmanship.
· You need an advertising plan. A NAN qualifying show must be advertised publicly as well as open to the public (no invitation only shows). There are lots of ideas of where you can advertise your show. You can post an ad on your regional yahoo group, put an ad on MH$P, Rio Rondo also has a spot on their site for a list of upcoming shows. Breyer will put an ad in JAH and list the show on their website and you can ask dealers that carry Breyers, Stones and other horse items if they will list your show on their website or in any newsletters they send out.
Once you send in for approval the process is simple. You just wait for approval (and then you can advertise your show as NAN qualifying) and you wait for your NAN cards.

One month ahead

Plan opening remarks

Now getting up in front of a show hall full of people might be your worst nightmare. I’ll admit, I am not good at public speaking, but there are announcements that need to be made prior to the start of a show. If you have an announcer you can pass off the opening remarks to him or her. But as the host it is a nice gesture to say something to everyone. Important things to let the showers know
· Location of the bathrooms. This information may or may not be obvious, but if you let people know where the bathrooms are located you won’t have to repeat it over and over individually all through the day.
· If the hall has particular rules (such as no tape on the walls) let showers know.
· Let everyone know when lunch will be. An approximate time is OK as long as it is reasonable (ex. “about” noon)
· If you have show sponsors you may want to announce this information now. If you have class sponsors you can announce them at the beginning of the show or right before the class.
· Let people know how much raffle tickets are and where they can purchase them.
· If you have a specific time limit on the hall it is very important to share.
· Make sure to welcome everyone and thank them for coming
A lot of this information (except maybe the location of the bathrooms if you have not included a map of the hall) may be in the show packets. But not everyone looks at the packets and important information should be announced.

Check awards when they come in

When the awards get to you count them to make sure you have what you ordered. Check them over to make sure there were no misprints and that everything else is as it should be. Store them carefully so they don’t get creased or wrinkled. If you have curly rosettes they can be hung up overnight. That usually straightens them out. If that doesn’t help you can also iron them (on the back where there is no print). Be careful of your setting as you don’t want to burn them.
If there are any problems with the awards call the company right away. You want to get things fixed as soon as possible.
Note Hodges Badge Co. will sometimes hold delivery until very close to your show date. The reason for this is so you don’t have to store the awards for a long period of time. If they are not there right away don’t panic. If it is about a week before and they are still not there, call. Hodges is a very reliable company and your awards will be perfect. If there is anything wrong they will be fixed in time for your show

Turn in floor plan

If your show hall requires that you turn in a floor plan prior to your show date now is a good time to do it. A week before is usually acceptable as well. This gives the hall time to plan how many helpers THEY need to set up your event. It is especially important if they happen to have an event in the hall after yours.

Work on show booklet

A show booklet is not a necessary part of the show but it is a nice touch and can be a lot of fun to put together. You can have a section to thank the showers for coming, name the judges and say thank you to them as well. You can say something about the charity you are supporting. You can include the class list, other important information and also you can offer ad space. Having ad space in the show booklet is nice because it ads interest to your show packet and offering free ad space is also a nice way to thank people that donated to the show.
The show booklet usually takes a bit of time if you do a nice job and that is the reason to start it early. You should tell donors (or people buying ad space) that they should have their ad in at least a week prior to the show. If you have most of the booklet together ahead of time you can add the last minute items right before printing.

1 week ahead
Sort ribbons

A week ahead of time sort your ribbons. Put them in stacks for each class. If you are placing 1-6 you should have a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place ribbon. Also put 2 NAN cards in for each section that is being judged (as well as 2 region X cards) keep performance, breed and collectibility/workmanship stacks separate. This will make things much easier on show day. You can just stack them all together but I like to clip them together with a paper clip. It keeps things together and are much easier to grab quickly on show day.

Put together show booklet

You should have all your final information for your show booklet together at this point. Add any final ads or changes, double check everything and then get printing. You want to have at least enough for every show entrant but it is nice to have extras for anyone that donated to the show. Sending the show booklets out to donors after the show with a nice note saying thank you and how much money was raised is a very nice gesture.

Copy judges sheets

You should have a sheet for the judge to put, at the very least, the class name/number number of horses, possibly the judges name or initials, section being judged (breed, collectibility, workmanship, performance) and space for placings. It is also nice to have extra space in case the judge would like to take some notes while judging.
Make sure you have enough judges sheets. If you are double judging you need to have 2 sheets per class. If you have 50 classes you need 100 judges sheets. It is good to have some extras in case of mistakes.

Copy class lists

You need to have at least enough class lists for every show entrant. It is a good idea to have some extras. You will probably want one to keep track of what class is being judged and if you have an announcer you may want one for him or her. A few extra above and beyond that is also advisable. An entrant might misplace their class list during the show (it happens) or there may be a guest that would like one as well.

Put together show packets

Having a large envelope or folder to hold all the show packet information is good. You should have
· The class lists
· Show booklet
· Lunch tickets (if applicable)
· Name tag (name tags are a good idea as they help people get to know each other. These can also be clipped on the outside of the show packet so you know who’s packet is who’s)
· Map of the show hall (if applicable)
· Any other items you want all the showers to have.

Organize show packets

Put the packets together in some kind of order that makes sense to you that makes things easier on show day. Alphabetical, or whatever. If you have a line of people waiting for their show packets you want to be able to find them quickly. DO NOT give anyone their show packet without getting their list of horses from them. These are very important for doing the results

Plan out seating chart

It’s a good idea to have a seating chart for the show. A lot of people will put on their entry forms who they would like to sit near. There were also probably sections for what divisions they will be entering into. All these things should be taken into consideration when planning out the seating chart. If someone is showing in only OF plastic and you seat them near the AR/CM ring across the room it is not going to be good for the traffic flow of the room. It is not always possible to put people exactly where they want to be, but with some thought and planning you can usually make people fairly happy with their seating arrangements.
When planning out the seating chart you should also make name tags for the tables. That way people will be able to find their seats on show day and you won’t have to personally walk everyone to their tables. These are easy to do. All you have to do is make a list (with a few extra spaces) of all the show entrants. Put it in a large font on your computer and print them out. Make sure that names were not cut off between pages while printing. Then cut the name tags out. I like to put them in order according to the seating chart. It makes it quick and easy to set them on the right tables on show day.
Note: it is a good idea to have an extra table just in case you have someone pop in on show day. I have had people enter by proxy (which means that you pay your entry but you will not be at the show and someone else is showing your horses for you) and then they showed up in the hall. Having a place to put the surprise people is nice. If your show is full then don’t worry about it. That is part of the reason to have a clear set of rules in your show packet.

1-3 days ahead of time

Buy sodas/bottled water

Make sure you buy enough soda (of various kinds) and water to have for lunch (if you are including it) and for yourself, your show helpers and your judges.

Buy snacks

Make sure to get some snacks for yourself. Hosting is hard work and you don’t want to be week from hunger. If you have some extra money in your show fund you might also consider buying extra snacks for your judges or possibly for any showers that want them.

Double check hosting supplies

Make sure you have the things you need for show day. There are lots of options but some very useful supplies are:
· Enough clipboards for all the judges
· Pens and/or pencils for you and the judges
· Note cards or paper (just in case)
· Plastic cups for raffle items
· Raffle tickets
· Cooler with ice for drinks (if applicable)
· Show packets
· Extra class lists
· Judges sheets
· Awards
· Cash box for raffle ticket money
· Post-It notes for the judges to use to write suggestions or notes for an entry (i.e. Bit fell out of mouth, The saddle is far back, There is dust in between the horse's ears, etc.)
· plastic baskets for left over flats, rubber bands, binder clips, etc.
· Scotch tape
· paper clips
· scissors,
· markers
· egg timer(s)
· extra leg tags (many showers lose their tags)

Pack hosting supplies

Put all your hosting supplies together in a box or tote. I have a tote that is just for my hosting supplies and I keep everything together at all times. Before a show I make sure I don’t need anything new. The more things you have in one place the easier it will be to remember to bring all your supplies.
Don’t forget to also gather up any donations that you have been sent for the show.

Get a good nights sleep

Go to bed early the night before the show. You will have a lot to do the next day and want to get as much rest as you can.

Show day

Get up and eat breakfast

Some people don’t like to eat in the morning but it is a good idea if you can handle it. You need energy since the start of a show can be very busy and you want to be able to focus on all the things you have to do. Make sure you leave enough time between getting up and getting ready to still get to the hall about an hour before the doors open to the public.

Stop for coffee/tea/hot chocolate

I like to get coffee for myself and my judges on the way to the show. If I don’t know everyone’s preferences I get a “box of Joe” from Dunkin Donuts and let people make their own coffee. I also like to get a few boxes of munchkins for everyone to share. It’s a nice touch and gives you something to munch on during the hectic start of the show.

Get to hall and make sure tables are in proper place

Once you get to the hall make sure that the tables are laid out the way they need to be. Sometimes some adjustments need to be made but if you have handed in a carefully done floor plan hopefully your work will be less.

Put out name tags

Make sure all the name tags are on the appropriate tables. That way if anyone shows up early you will be able to pause in your set-up and let them know where to look for their seat.

Set up hall

Put out donations with a plastic cup in front of (or behind) each item. If you have silent auction items lay them out as well, with the bidding sheets. Set up your hosting table so you know where everything is and can efficiently hand out the show packets. Don’t forget to breathe

Set up show ring markers

Put out show ring numbers and if you have some sort of system for marking what class is in the ring, put those out as well. Some people use binders with pages that can be flipped. Some people use stand up frames which can have the class name slipped in. Some people use wipe boards. There are lots of ideas that make things easier for the entrants, the show holder and the announcer especially to know what class is in what ring.

Make sure P.A is all set

If you are using a public address system make sure it is all set up and working. This is very important as if the show is large and loud you will get very tired of yelling over the crowd all day long. Make sure you have a microphone and it is properly plugged in.

Set out snacks

If you brought snacks set them out. A good spot is usually on the hosting table(s) or if you have a spot that is more convenient that can work as well.

Great entrants as they enter

Say hello to the showers as they enter and hand out the show packets. Make sure you get the list of horses they will be showing that day. This is very important for doing the results later.

Direct showers to tables

Let the showers know where they are seated. You should have your seating chart so you can check and see where everyone’s place is.

Morning announcements

Make your morning announcements. Tell the entrants the time you will need to be out of the show hall, when lunch is, the location of the bathrooms and any other information they need to know. Make sure to thank them for coming and to welcome them again.

Order lunch

Order lunch (if applicable) with enough time to spare so it will come at the time you set aside for lunch. About 45 minutes to an hour before your lunchtime is probably about the right timing. Depending on where you are ordering from. You might want to check ahead of time. Preordering is a good idea as well if it is an option.

Use timer to keep classes moving

Throughout the show use an egg timer to keep the classes moving. If you said 10 minutes between performance classes, set the timer and when it goes off have it announced that the class is closed. Some people are not very considerate of others and will take more than their fair share of time to set things up which can hold up a show. Stick to your time limits for EVERYONE and then no one will have anything to complain about.

Clean up and go to dinner

Once the show is over thank everyone for coming, clean up and go have dinner. If you need to take the trash out make sure to do that first as well as anything else that was required for you to use the hall. Then just relax, eat, talk with your judges or other showers that went out with you and have a good time. You made it through the day!

Start planning next years show

Give yourself a little bit of a break and then start planning the show for next year.

Keeping records and staying organized
As you are planning the show it is very important to keep records of several different things. There are many ways you can do this. You can keep a notebook (hard copy) files on your computer, a section of the show website. It’s up to you exactly how you stay organized but staying organized in some way is very important. You should keep records of:
· Who has entered the show
· Who has opted for the lunch option (if applicable)
· Who you have asked to donate (so you don’t forget and ask twice)
· Who has agreed to donate and what
· List of donation as they come in
· Money coming in (show fees, early auction items, donation)
· Money going out (hall down payment, NAN fees, awards, etc)
It’s important to have a list of who entered the show for many reasons. One, it will give you a count of how many people you have total, you will have a much easier time putting together show packets, etc. You can cut down the number of list you need by adding a little asterisk next to the names of people that ordered lunch:

Tanya Tackmaker
* Sharon Shower
* Dina Dollmaker
Natasha Novice

Now you have 2 lists in one and all you need for a lunch count is to go down the right hand side of your list. Then when you make up the show packets just put the lunch tickets in the ones who opted for it.
A list of who you asked to donate is a very good idea. An artist or other hobby crafter most likely gets asked to donate to many shows. It’s a good idea as well as polite to not ask the same person more than once. If you don’t get a response your email may have gone astray, or the artist may not be able to donate to your show and not like saying no. When asking for donations you should expect to hear no at least a few times and be ignored a lot. I like to keep my list of who I have asked on the computer. It is very easy to update it that way. It might look something like this to start:
Tanya Tackmaker-?
Dina Dollmaker-?
Pat Propmaker-?
Polly Painter-?

When I start to hear back from people I can easily update the list:
Tanya Tackmaker-?
Dina Dollmaker-yes! (CM doll)
Pat Propmaker-?
Polly Painter-yes! (CM stablemate)

That way I know who I have asked, who said they can donate and what they will be sending. When the donations start to arrive you can either update the list to also say received after the name or you can change the color of the text for that person. As long as you know what your records mean that is what matters. That way you will also have a list of what was donated (and if the donator changes their mind you can change the item on your list) so you can make sure you have everything on show day.
The last really important thing you need for organization is a show bank book. You can set it up like a checkbook or just make a list with money coming in and going out. Whatever works for you but be specific. You want to remember where money went if your memory gets foggy in a few weeks. Here is a sample show bank book list:
3/24/09 entry received 45.00 45.00
4/15/09 sponsorship money 50.00 95.00
4/22/09 NAMHSA fees paid -40.00 55.00
6/12/09 3 entries received 130.00 185.00

This way you know when the money came in, what it was for and how much is in your show account. Most people do not have a separate bank account for their show so keeping careful records of what is coming in and going out is important. If you are using your own checking account you should also have a separate list for yourself so you know how much of the money is your money and how much is show money. I have found that using a savings account is easier to keep track of and all you have to do is transfer money to your checking account to pay the show bills.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Baystate Halter Live, should I or shouldn't I?

I have been struggling somewhat with a decision and I am still going back and forth on it. It concerns the live show I host annually in August, Baystate Halter Live. For awhile now I have been thinking about performance. I love performance showing and will fully and openly admit to being a performance junkie. I have only been showing in performance for a little over a year (maybe two, I lost track, lol) but I love it. I have very little interest in halter showing. Part of that I am sure is when I was showing almost exclusively OF's it was so frustrating because sometimes they do well and sometimes they don't. Now I have pretty much only AR's I show in halter but I have not had most of them long enough to see how they actually do as halter horses. I did exceptionally well with my Sencillo resin, Cranky Pants at region X regionals this year. He got champion in breed. I was judging OF breed at the time and he was being proxy shown for me and I totally forgot to get champ pictures. But anyway...
So I have been thinking about performance shows. I love them, I feel we need more of them, I feel I should hold one, etc. My first year of performance showing there was not an overwhelming number of performance shows or shows that at least offered some performance classes. Then this past year I nudged a couple of friends into hosting and though I probably can't take credit (blame?) for the snowball effect that followed we had a TON of new shows this past year. We actually had too many shows. I know it's almost blasphemy to say it but it is true. There were some months where there was a show every weekend. People had to decide which shows to go to so attendance was down at most shows.
Well not at Baystate. The first year we had a total of 32 entries (I believe) including judges that were showing. The second year there was about 42 I think and then for this year, the third year there was supposed to be 51 and 2 couldn't come at the last minute. So Baystate is growing. But except for regionals, Baystate is the largest all halter show in region. It was modeled after NEMHC, the show hosted by Nancy Timm, the first year and has changed and grown a bit since then. Nancy changed NEMHC to a CM and AR specialty show so as far as I know Baystate is the only all inclusive halter show left in the region.
My thought this past year was to make Baystate into a two day show like NESE used to be. NESE evolved into what it was but it was a show that was greatly loved by many people. Now the only 2 day show left is regionals though NEMHC has joined up with Factory Ponies Live and the China Buffet to make a showing weekend with something for almost everyone (the only performance is OF performance at Factory Ponies).
There is a point somewhere in all my rambling, I promise. The beginning of this year, 2009, I had been thinking of making Baystate into the two day show. But I figured 7 weeks before my wedding was a crazy enough time to hold a show, let alone add a day to it. So I figured I would wait on it and maybe do it for 2010. My dilemma now is I don't know if I should host the show at all.
This year I went through a lot of craziness surrounding my wedding. We had some people we considered good friends do some things that were anything but friend-like. There was a lot of stress and a lot of sadness to go along with the nicer parts of the day itself. I don't remember my reception very well because I spent all day working to make sure everything went smoothly so people would have a good time. And still people complained about this or that. *sigh* it's enough to frustrate anyone.
With BHL at least people are appreciative of the work I do. They know it is hard to pull together any show and a large show has bigger challenges. It is nice at the end of the day when people say thank you and tell me they had a wonderful time. That does in a way make all the work worth it. And I really do enjoy giving back to the hobby. But it is a lot of work. I think at this point we are up to needing 10 judges for the show to run properly. That is a lot of judges. There are not a lot of people volunteering to judge these days. It seems I end up doing a lot of last minute scrambling to make sure the judging spots are covered. The hall itself is $500 for the day and it is, in my opinion, a necessary expense. The hall I use is the Elk's lodge in my town and it is very large, very well lit, it has a ton of safe parking, the hall is handicap accessible (ramps are good for those luggage carts a lot of people use to bring their horses in), the people that run the hall are very accommodating and the hall is 5 minutes from my house. I wanted to have a show in my town, I figured it was a perk of being the hostess.
The awards are very expensive as well, totalling hundreds of dollars. The other problem is a lack of donations in the past 2 years. Yes I can get donations and the people that come to the show donate very generously, but it is very hard to get donations before the show. So many people say they can't afford to donate, don't have time, etc. I understand this because I get a lot of requests for donations and being a doll maker that is a large amount of time and money donated. I have only donated a whole doll to a couple of shows and those were hosted by close friends. I have been donating discount certificates because I don't like to say no when people ask for donations if I can help it.
Anyway, the long and the short of things is I am sort of burnt out on things. It is hard for me to get babysitters, especially for all day. The show costs about $2000 to run and that is a lot of money to come up with. People want shows but not many people want to judge. And I am tired. I guess I need to think some more on whether or not to hold the show this year. I still would like to hold a two-day show but I think I might have to wait another year or 2 to even really consider that. For this year I will think on it some more and maybe see if I can get some volunteers to help with the planning. For now here are some pictures from the first 3 years of Baystate Halter Live. Awards from the second year of the show.
The first year of Baystate Halter Live was held in a Mason's lodge. It was a tight fit but we worked it out and everyone seemed to have a good time.
The second year of Baystate in the Elk's lodge in Ludlow. I took this photo from the stage and it doesn't even show the whole room. We have much more space than the first year of the show.
This was the third year of Baystate and the biggest so far. We had 51 entries and still have room for more people. And even with more people everyone will still have space and be comfortable.
And this year we also had the addition of the novice division. There were 5 novices but they brought out some nice horses. Next year if I hold the show I think they should get more classes.

Now it's time to weigh the stress against the fun. Any comments or suggestions are welcome.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The importance of good notes and actually using them

I received a custom order for an endurance rider. I even got some good reference photos, a nice description, everything I needed to make the doll exactly how the customer wanted it to be. And yet except for the colors I made the doll almost completely wrong. How did I make such a mistake you ask? I didn't actually look at my notes.
The project started out simply enough and then I got delayed from life things happening around here. So I was late getting the doll done and I don't like to be late. I like dolls to be done when I say they will be done. So more time than necessary (in my opinion) had passed than was reasonable and I told myself I HAD to get the doll done on a particular day, no excuses.
Remember those wonderful reference photos I said I had received? I didn't print them out like I should have. It may have been because I didn't have printer ink at the time or I may have forgotten. Either way they were not in the order book. *sigh* So I went into the book to see what colors I needed. And that was all I actually checked. Somewhere along the line my brain turned "endurance" into "eventing". Enough had been going on that I forgot I had reference photos so I went and looked up eventing so I would not make mistakes. And this is the doll I ended up with.
She was nice, I liked her, her vest came out really well, I like her boots, etc. And then I went back to the saved emails to get the customers email address to send her some approval photos. And then I saw the part about half chaps and short boots because tall boots are right out for endurance because they would get very uncomfortable over the long distances.
Uh oh.
So I went back to the notes and really read them and looked at the reference photos and started kicking myself. Not only were the boots wrong (and not really possible to change without wrecking the doll) there was no vest needed, just the pinny. I could have taken the vest off and saved it but with the boots being totally wrong it made more sense to make a whole new doll.
So I wrote to the customer who was very sweet and said no problem that I was late, had made the wrong doll and now there was more of a delay. We agreed that the doll would be done after the holidays. Now I know technically there is another holiday right around the corner but I figured since Christmas was done (the actual day if not all the get togethers) that I needed to get that doll done. And correctly this time. So yesterday I finished up making the new clothes and putting the new doll together following the notes and specifications every step of the way. And this is what the new doll looks like.

She looks similar to the original doll I made but in person she is almost totally different. I am not sure if the customer will like her just yet as I only sent the approval photos a little while ago and am waiting to hear back.

This was a good lesson for me though. Even if you think you know exactly what you are supposed to be making, if it is a custom order make sure to take good notes and actually use them. Otherwise you may just have to do the work twice :)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree...

Merry Christmas! (or happy Boxing day....) I have been meaning to post but didn't have any photos and I hate posting blogs with no photos. I got a few pictures of Ethan and Elecktra meticulously putting tinsel on the Christmas tree but they were very dark. So I started with out photo from Christmas morning. This is the biggest tree we have ever had. Also it has a beautiful shape. Elecktra pretty much picked it out herself so she has been very proud of our lovely tree :)

I didn't get really any other good pictures from Christmas morning. Most of them were blurry. But this is a nice picture of Abby in front of the "fire" with her bone. We always make sure to get her something she really likes or she is into all the gift opening.
Travis really enjoyed writing with his new fancy LED pen. The photo came out pretty well with no flash even though it was a little bit dark. This was over at my brother-in-laws house for more Christmas fun.
Here's Elecktra (on the left) and my niece Ashlynn opening their gifts. Ashlynn and her sister got me a classic sized Breyer horse for Christmas. My sister-in-law told me Ashlynn told her it was the perfect horse for me because I was going to cut it's tail and head off! I don't usually do that but I guess I will be doing some customizing now. I really like the head so I think I will leave that on but the tail does need to come off I think....
Here Elecktra is playing with her bird whistle. It is one of the coolest old fashioned toys I have ever seen. It's a little ceramic bird and you put water in it. When you blow the whistle is actually sounds like a real bird. Pretty neat little toy and no batteries!
This is Jordan my littlest niece. She had a really nice time exploring the mess we made with all the wrapping paper and new things. She stopped to pose for me for this picture. When she first woke up she really didn't want to have much to do with me (I have not seen her in a month) and I didn't push it. By the end of the night she was reaching for me even when Daddy was holding her.
All in all it was a nice start to Christmas. It was a long day and I was very tired by the end and there is more to come. Tomorrow we are having "Christmas Eve" with my family. We used to get together on Christmas Eve for real and then all the work 2 days in a row was too much for my parents. So this year the best time for our get-together is tomorrow. So hopefully it will be a good time with no drama. You never can tell. And maybe I will get some more pictures to share as well.