May 23, 2024

Christina Gray Shares How ShowConnect is Shaping the Future of Event Management

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
Christina Gray hard at work. MGO Photography photo

Christina Gray has been working in the horse show office since the mid-90’s. What started out as her lending a helping hand at her local horse trial turned into a full-blown career after Gray graduated from college and founded her own Gray Area Events, LLC.

Over the years, Gray has dipped her toes into the waters of many various technologies that could help her streamline her processes as a show secretary and also simplify things for the competitor, but her most recent project is providing critical input and feedback of ShowConnect, an equestrian event management system supported by the USEA that serves as a hub for all professionals involved in running equestrian related shows and events.

“I was a really big supporter of the USEA taking this on because if [any of the other scoring platforms] decided to retire or quit, eventing as a whole would be really caught off guard and having to try and develop something to meet the everyday demands of technology that could produce results, submit items to the Federation, and more,” noted Gray. “I felt that it was important for the Association to take this on to support the sport going into the future.”

Gray has utilized the ShowConnect system at two events so far this year, including most recently at The Event at Skyline in Mount Pleasant, Utah, in early May.

“I think a lot of the competitors that we had at Skyline last week were really excited with it and liked the look and feel of it,” said Gray. “They liked that you can get more detail because you can see the detailed scores by movements of what your dressage was online, and you could see where your penalties were at in show jumping or cross-country, which I think is a bit new for some people.”

Given her longstanding history in the industry, Gray’s feedback after using the program in real-time has been monumental in ShowConnect’s continued development. She will be introducing the platform to both USEA Area VI and VII in the next month at Spokane Sport Horse Farm (Spokane, Washington), the Woodside Spring H.T. (Woodside, California), and the Equestrians’ Institute H.T. (Cle Elum, Washington). The USEA will be sending staff representative Margaret Marcus to the events in Spokane and Woodside for onsite support and to get first hand feedback from competitors.

“I am really excited that the USEA is supporting [Marcus’ attendance],” Gray said. “It’s a different experience when you’re running 300 horses and multiple phases at the same time. It’s hard to explain the check-in process until you are living it, trying to help your customer and seeing what you need to see and what you don’t need to see. I am excited that Margaret will be at those two events to really assess the program’s functionality in that atmosphere and then go back to the developers with a lot more knowledge of what the system is supporting.”

Having watched the industry grow from handwritten entries and scoreboards to a Microsoft spreadsheet type program to now utilizing online platforms to better support both office staff and competitors, Gray has enjoyed getting to weigh in on the areas of opportunity for ShowConnect to excel as the premiere equestrian event management system.

“Right now, ShowConnect is in the starting phase, and I really like to say that ShowConnect 2.0 is going to offer the extra features, bells, and whistles that will make the competitor experience a lot better,” she said. “I think, from the organizer and secretary standpoint, the platform really makes some features of how you’re doing things and dealing with entries a lot more efficient than some of the other softwares out there.”

Another perk of ShowConnect thatGray appreciates is the robust customer support offered to users.

“I think one benefit ShowConnect has to offer is the really good support when you have issues,” she shared. “The support of Margaret and Seetha [Seetharaman] is the best. You know they’re there for any issue that comes up and they want to make it the best possible experience for you, so you are really not out on your own. And they are open to suggestions; they really want it to be a community-based system.”

Gray is eager to continue implementing the ShowConnect system at the various events she works, and she encourages other event and schooling show organizers to give the platform a try as well. ShowConnect offers interested parties the opportunity to demo the program, and the support team behind ShowConnect are always willing to chat about how it could work for your event, recognized or unrecognized. Gray feels that the USEA’s support of the program is a big win for the eventing community

“I think that’s another olive branch that shows that the USEA is trying to support events and organizers," she said. "This truly is their way of saying, ‘Hey, we are here to support you.’ ”

For more details on ShowConnect, click here.

About ShowConnect

ShowConnect has been designed with the future in mind. The system provides the critical features event organizers need to register, schedule, and score an event, but also provides many additional features to all sized events that would not be cost-effective by any other means. It’s designed to allow the flow of information, and in the future, transactions securely in real-time to and from the people and organizations who interact with your event.

ShowConnect is not an online entry system but does allow for manual entries and imports from Xentry, the USEA’s online entry system.

ShowConnect provides one location with everything needed to run an event, state-of-the-art technology, enhanced scoring systems, real-time updates, easy accessibility, and support for organizers and secretaries when you need it most. Click here to learn more about ShowConnect.

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