Amateur Hour

Hotel from Hell: the Woes of Horse Show Hotels

©Sarah Nichols/CC by Flickr 2.0

You’ve packed your horse’s finest sheets, scrubbed him within an inch of his life, polished your tack, and made sure that your show clothes are pristine.

After a long day of trailering, getting your horse settled, and getting yourself acclimated to the show grounds, nothing sounds better than relaxing in your hotel room, right?

Well, when you show as an amateur (especially AOTS—amateur owned, trained, and shown), the room isn’t always a home away from home. We’ve taken a break from our nine-to-fives for the much anticipated “showcation.” Most of our horse show budget is allocated towards hauling, entries, and stall fees. Often, our own accommodations are simply an afterthought.

For our barn group, this has lead to many horse shows that are remembered more for the hotel than for the actual event.

Like the Hotel of Horrors…

Several years ago, we’d forgotten to book a room until about a week before the show. Upon our arrival, we knew the establishment we’d selected would be…memorable. In this quiet town, we’d managed to end up at the hotel across from a local strip club, and, in keeping with this theme, the hotel had rules posted regarding hourly guests.

The room itself was even less appealing. Once we’d unpacked, my roommate decided to take a shower. Unfortunately for my vertically challenged comrade, the bathtub wouldn’t drain, leaving her knee-deep in wastewater! The room itself had numerous holes in the walls (like the ones you see serial killers peeking through in B grade horror films), and furniture and electronics fresh from 1978, including a chair with suspicious stains. The one upside? No bedbugs (shockingly).

We searched for a new hotel the next morning.

What can possibly top that? One word: Condemned. Yes, we’ve been in a hotel that was condemned during our stay. The establishment itself was nothing fancy (still nicer than the aforementioned business), but it was functional.

The same friend that shared the last terrible experience was the one to receive the phone call from another in our group saying that the hotel was in fact condemned. We assumed he was joking. But nope. He brought the orange notice sign to prove it. Apparently one of the boilers was not up to code.

Other hotel stays of note include sharing the establishment with [intoxicated] guests present for an S&M party weekend that liked to leave their doors open, and getting to see the aftermath of Columbus, Ohio less-than-legal nightlife.

As outlandish as some of these experiences may seem, we did succeed in making memories, even if they were of shared misery. And, like true horse people, our own comfort didn’t matter as long as our horses were healthy and happy.

What are some of your memorable showcation accommodation experiences?

About the Author

Heather Stutlz is an amateur with a the sense of humor of a 12-year-old boy toiling in the basics of dressage.

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