Case of the Closing Date Blues

Not for the first time in my life, I have been taken advantage of by someone in the horse industry. It’s been on my mind on and off (but more on) for the last several months since this incident, so it’s probably worth writing about, at least now that it appears to be finally on its way to being resolved.

Last August I signed up for the Virginia Horse Trials, a schooling event that takes place at the Virginia Horse Center. I had only heard good things about the facilities, and looked forward to trying out a new and promising venue. Then, a week before the competition, I got sick. Sick enough that I couldn’t work even at my desk job, making the 4 hour drive and subsequent cross country riding look like a really daunting prospect. I noticed that VHT had already cashed my checks, so I gave them a ring and confirmed that if I scratched on the closing date that I would get a full refund. They assured me I would, and so the next day, still no better, I both sent an email and left a voicemail with my decision to scratch. The ride times were posted the next day, without my name on the list- good, they’d gotten my messages.

J rocking the Novice course at VHT last year / PC: Brant Gamma Photos

J rocking around the Novice course at VHT last year / PC: Brant Gamma Photos

Fast forward another few weeks. I started checking the mail with an eye for a letter from Virginia, but none came. I emailed VHT once again, asking about my refund (almost $200, by the way), and no response. Called and left a voicemail, and no response. Repeating this process every 1-2 weeks became an exercise in my patience. I became incensed- if a venue promises a refund on their website by a certain date, they should honor it. Or, don’t promise refunds, in which case I would have loaded up on Red Bull and dragged my sorry behind to the event. My resentment eventually led me to social media.

Virginia Horse Trial’s website

I tried the venue’s facebook page, and again, nothing. Then I cast further, to the broader Virginia eventing association, and found out that I was not alone in my refund pleas.

Virginia Horse Trail’s facebook page


None of my leads followed through. I continued calling every month or so, noting that VHT’s voicemail message had changed- how could they not have received my messages? Friends signing up for their current shows similiarly assured me that their emails were responded to in a timely manner, convincing me that I was purposely being ignored. Around December, I started to give up hope that I would ever get my money back, and vowed to never give this venue money again. I started debating if it was worth having the lawyer husband write them a strongly worded missive as a last ditch effort, and to soothe both of our frustrations on the subject.

J and the VHT Trakehner again (this fence makes me pee my pants) / PC: Brant Gamma Photos

J and the VHT Trakehner again (this fence makes me pee my pants) / PC: Brant Gamma Photos

The finally, last month, I had one more brain wave. I emailed Eventing Nation, that hub of all things eventing, thinking that if they didn’t know someone directly maybe they would write a post about it. You know, go all whistle-blower with the business. To my surprise, they forwarded my email to the new owners of VHT, and I got a response the next day.

EN to the rescue

EN to the rescue

While it seems I won’t be getting my precious dollars back, the new owner has offered me a compromise- a free entry to the Recognized horse trials this May, a $200 value. This gesture, though it requires me to spend money on gas and a renewed USEA membership, goes a long way in feeling like the right thing. Before they can back out of it, I’ve accepted. We’ll see if they follow through or not, but I’m hopeful that the event will be a happy ending to this extremely trying tale! While I didn’t plan on any recognized shows this year- maybe this (and my new USEA membership) will open up other recognized opportunities later this season!

Fingers crossed!


23 thoughts on “Case of the Closing Date Blues

  1. How awful!!! I am so glad that you continued to follow through with it, but that is so ridiculous for you to have to spend so much time just getting a refund. Hopefully the event this May is wonderful and totally worth it 🙂

    On a side note, I once bought a saddle for over $1000 that had a two week trial period. I tried to send it back after one week and they told me that saddle wasn’t one with a trial period. Even though the website said ALL saddles and the only exception was custom, which this wasn’t. I have never been so sick as those weeks that I had to fight for my money back. UGH it is not fun.

  2. Sometimes the industry baffles and saddens me when I didn’t think it was possible anymore. Those moments make it tough to believe in anyone. However, the free entry is really nice. I hope it works out for you. 🙂

  3. First of all, that’s a sucky situation and crappy customer service. Secondly, it’s pretty cool for new owners to stand up and offer you a free entry. I’ll keep my fingers crossed you don’t get the plague before this horse trial! 😉

    • Yes indeed. I imagine the old owners, being on their way out, didn’t think it would be their problem for much longer and could just brush it aside! Who knows though what really happened.

      And yes, I’ll be stuffing myself with vitamins before the show!

  4. Come back to FENCE!!!!! or Windridge!!!!! You can even stay here and save money on hotel/stabling- depending on if you feel like trailering over each day/keeping Foster in a new place that’s not a horse show 🙂 Either way you should come back!!!!!!!

    WindRidge was really nice and gave me a free entry to the spring event when we had to scratch Becca from the fall event the Tues before the show started due to a hot nail. Bad luck sucks but it’s nice when an event location helps you out!!!

    • Haha I will definitely consider it- perhaps if they have fall horse trials? I’d be more apt to come down if I feel like I can do Training! Will look into it, and thanks for the offer! 😀

  5. what an unfortunate situation, ugh – tho i commend you on your super tactful facebook posts! hopefully the comped entry fee turns out to be a super awesome silver lining for the upcoming season!

    • If it was less than $75, I may have. But since I budget all of my horse activities so closely, losing almost $200 was too much to just let go in my mind! That’s several lessons, or a new bridle, or 10 new polo wraps…. 😉

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