Friday, May 25, 2012


One of my many rotten tests

I know very little about judging, but it's something I've always been interested in.  So, when a friend mentioned that she was looking for a scribe for a show, I volunteered.  What better way to gain insight into the judging process than to be responsible for writing out the judge's thoughts?

I've never scribed before, so hopefully my friend will take pity on me and I'll get to scribe for Intro and Training level!

To help myself prepare, I got out all my old tests and have been reading over them.  Man, there are some bad ones in that collection!  Poor scribe must have had a hand cramp from all the comments.  And then some of them require an expert in hieroglyphics to decipher.  I've even got one where it seems that the judge snatched the test away from the scribe mid-ride and started scoring it herself.  I wonder what happened there?  (It was probably my fault)

I've also sought the help of the internet.  (Because, really, if Dr. Google can't answer your question, who can?)  I found this handy guide for scribing on the USDF website.  It even has a list of common abbreviations!  Which is interesting, because there are no abbreviations in the comments of any of my tests.  I guess no one really knows about them.  Which then begs the question: If no one knows about the abbreviations, how will the test-ee decipher the comments?  Oh dressage, you are a conundrum!

Confusing abbreviations aside, I am very excited about my upcoming foray into the other side of the judge's box.  I don't think I'll be able to watch the tests or glean much information about judging this time, I'll be too busy just trying to keep up and learn how to scribe!  But, it gets my foot in the door and I'll learn a new, useful skill.  And, hopefully, (once I get the hang of it) I'll get to pay a little more attention to the judge and the ride and learn a little something about judging!

Oh, and if you've got any suggestions, I'm all ears!


  1. I've done quite a bit of scribing. I don't get to see much because my head is down writing, but I learn a lot just by listening to the judge. And you can pop your head up here and there to see what she's talking about. Let us know what you think afterwards. -- and the judge's have always been very nice. It's not nearly as scary as you think it will be.

  2. Have fun! I have no advice, but scribing is something I hope to do in the future!

  3. I've scribed for a lot of judges. I don't think my hands could do it now as it can involve a bunch of writing, depending on the judge and your skill.

    You need to keep track of the test as the judge scores, making sure he/she gives a mark for each movement.

    Most judges seem to "tune in" to the scribe's ability to keep up with the comments. So if you get an experienced judge he/she will help you along.

    Your handwriting needs to be clear for the competitor and abbreviations should not be too cryptic. sq=square, trans=transition, ll, rl=left lead right lead. 0=circle, things like that.

    Have several writing implements that work. Pens are good, but sometimes damp weather and rain affect the writing, so have some optional implements.

    The judge usually writes the collectives.

    Talk it over with your judge before the class starts to see what he/she expects of you. Some judges like you to help them keep track of the test movements, some don't. Some have a method for working they will tell you ahead of time. Don't be afraid to ask questions to clarify that.

    Good to start off at lower levels where the tests are less complex. I used to scribe at the Essex Three Day and that could be a challenge.

    If I think of more, I'll let you know.

  4. What a great learning opportunity. Sounds like Jean's comment has you covered. :)

    "Oh dressage, you are a conundrum!" *giggles*

  5. I love scribing. I've put in over 100 hours of it over the past 2-3 years. It's quite an education! (I might be scribing this Sunday, though I've done so much I tend to get stuck wherever they need me!) Jean's comment is pretty spot-on!

    Let the judge know it's your first time scribing, and ask ahead of time or between tests if you have any questions. Each judge does things a little bit differently, and most will tell you how they do things at the beginning of the day -- ie, score first, then comment, or vice versa.

    Other than writing down what the judge says, you also double-check to make sure score sheets match the rider (and match the order of go!) -- and check that the judge knows if you are changing tests or levels. If you get lost or think the judge missed a movement, quietly let them know; you might just have to continue scoring and go back over it with the judge later. Things happen, so don't freak out!

    The judges and volunteer coordinators usually take good care of you, and set you up with enough pens and other materials. Do pay attention to the forecast and dress/pack appropriately -- things like sunglasses or a visor, a light jacket, mud-proof shoes... Be prepared to be stuck in one spot all day regardless of the sun or wind!

    Oh, and as for starting out at the lower levels? My very first time scribing was for a Prix St George class, haha! Nothing like a little trial by fire... ;)

  6. Good Luck! I have never scribed, but I am sure that I would learn a lot from doing so. Kudos to you for volunteering!

  7. OOOHHHH you should have fun! I generally help out at our local dressage competitions by scribing, gear checking, helping the scorer. I love being able to give back and when you pencil you do get a really good insight into what the judges are looking for. You know what, they don't care if you have the lastest saddlecloth or riding jacket, they really are looking at the horse. Is he happy and obliging? Is he rythmical? Is the rider riding him, is the rider helping he? I just have to remember to apply all that I learn but in the lower levels especially they are looking for a forward, calm, rythimcal horse!
    Ask your judge if they comment first and then give a score or the other way around. That will really help you. Definately learn the abbreviations as that will help you a lot. SOme abbreviations I use - For circle, I draw a circle, square halt, I draw a square and write halt, wiggly centerline, I draw a wiggly line and CL for centreline, forward - fwd. Try and print so it is easier for the competitor to read it after.
    Hope this helps and HAVE FUN!!!!!!!!


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