Awards on Gus' Face

How to “Milk the System” of Year End Awards

Milking the system is a phrase I like to use when talking about looking for and submitting year-end awards. Equestrians are always trying to get the biggest band for their buck, why should awards be any different. I am surprised with how many equestrians how don’t go past their circuits award and look into other awards programs.

Why Should I?

As a rider, especially if you want to try making horses a full-time job, you have to think of yourself as more than just a rider. You are a product, a business, something that will need to be marketed to future clients and sponsors. In order to do this, you need to prove that you are up there with the best in your area and maybe nationwide.

Year-end awards help you go a step further than just a show record. Sure you’ve won a show or had a good year. That great, good job! But your competition also had a great year and won a show. What sets you apart? By choosing to enter different year-end awards, I can tell you how I rank in Dressage for several circuits and my region for several different associations without entering a single sanctioned show. Your show record is only part of your resume. Really show your talent with your year-end awards record.

Awards banquets are also a great place to network. You have a room full of people that have an endless amount of connections between them. Get to know the people at your table, mingle, and have fun! You never know where it may lead.


If you go to a local show, they are probably apart of a show circuit and may even have their own show series. Ask if they host a year-end awards program. These types of circuits and series normally track scores automatically but have requirements for the number of shows you need to enter. This is a great place to start your search for awards program.

Ask other people who sho if they know of any. If you have social media, use it! Put it out there that you are looking and see what other people are apart of. Not everything will be a fit but its good to see whats out there.

Some pieces you should check when looking at a program:

  • Do they require a membership?
    • If a program is put on by an association, you will probably need to have a membership before your scores will be counted. Memberships normally have benefits that come with it like discounted clinic fees, show discounts, opprotunity for prize money and more.
  • Do they require volunteer hours?
    • If they do, make sure they have an opportunity close enough to you that you can fill your hour requirement. You may have the option to do online work or bring a friend and have them donate their hours towards your requirement.
  • Price for division
  • When their show year is
    • Not all programs use the governing body’s year. Make sure you know when the year starts and ends and when the deadline for scores it. You may have to wait until the next show year to submit scores.

We will be holding our own year-end awards program this year for eventers who competes at Starter to Training and Dressage riders competing at Intro to Second Level. To sign up for email updates, please fill out the appropriate survey on our information page.

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