Year-end banquets are a good way to see how you rank with people in your circuit, state, or country. They also let you mingle and enjoy a night with people who enjoy the same sport as you. They may seem a little intimidating at first but don’t worry, they are a ton of fun.
First, there are circuit and association year end awards. Circuit year-end banquets require you to ride in so many shows at the same level. Association year-end banquets allow you to ride in several circuits at the same level. Each one has a different number of required rides and different season times. You also need to make sure that if a membership is required, you have it before your first show of the season. No matter what kind of year-end banquet you are trying to qualify for, you must ride the same horse in all of your tests you want to use.
Second, keep an eye on your scores and placings throughout the season. Take a look at the other scores in your level to see where you rank. This is very helpful if you are going for a circuit banquet. Most of the time, if you are in the top 4 in your test and level, you should qualify. I also make a note of names I have seen multiple times. If it’s halfway through the season and have seen this person for the first time, more than likely they won’t qualify for the banquet.
Now the most important question of all time. What are you going to wear? This isn’t some party that you can show up in whatever because you will never see those people again. You are not only representing yourself, but also your coach and farm. Nice dress pants and shirts, a skirt and dress shirt, or a dress for women are always a good go to. Try to avoid things that are very tight or revealing, save that for the breeches to show off. You want to look professional and respectable. Men should wear a nice shirt or polo with dress pants and a tie if you want.
Banquets can be confusing and overwhelming at first. Try to get a table either towards the front or on the outside to make getting your award much easier. They start with the lower levels first and work up the level. Be sure to listen for your name and level. When you hear it, walk up towards the awards table and then wait for them to take a picture of all the winners. It’s ok to cheer but be thoughtful when you do. Once all the awards have been given, most people take pictures with their families and then mingle and leave.
Banquets are fun and a good way to meet new horse friends. Remember you are there to celebrate your achievements and success during the past season. Be sure to enjoy the night and your new awards!