Thursday, June 14, 2012


An example of a test (First Level Test 3) with scores and comments.  This was one of our better performances, but I still feel bad for the scribe who had to write down all my mistakes.  She probably got a hand cramp!

Well, I got my first scribing job out of the way. I will freely admit that I was a bit daunted by the task at first.  I had to scribe for Training through Fourth level, all the tests (US dressage has three tests for each level). In spite of all your good advice, I still wasn't sure what to expect. Plus, I've never shown the new (2011) tests past First level, and thus never bothered to learn them. Or even familiarize myself with most of them.

I spent the evening before the show reading through the tests to get a feel for them.  I didn't memorize them or anything, just read through them to see what movements were called for, what the directives were and such.  I also read through the USDF's Guide For Scribes a few times.

The morning of the show I made sure to tell the judge that I had never scribed before, so she took a bit of time to give me some pointers.  The judge was very supportive and happy to help me learn.  The entire day went smoothly, without any catastrophic failures on my part.  I had a blast doing it, too.  I will definitely be volunteering again.

 Seriously, if you ever have the opportunity to scribe, do it! I learned so much just listening to the judge. I wasn't able to watch any of the tests because I was too busy writing, but I was able to get a real "feel" for the tests anyway.

 So, what did I learn? It turns out that judges aren't horrible monsters that lurk at C just waiting to pounce on unsuspecting competitors (I will have to convince Spider of this).  The judges really do want us to do well in the ring and they want to give us good scores.  

Ride the lengthenings/mediums/extensions.  So many riders didn't even try to do the lenthenings, they just kept on riding around in working or collected trot.  For many of the tests, you're scored twice on those movements: once for the movement and once for the transitions.  If you don't do it, you just blew two scores.  Plus, the judge wants to see you try.  Even if you don't do it well, or your horse careens out of control around the corner or out of the ring, it's still better than not trying it at all.  Speaking of careening out of control.....

Don't sweat the errors. If you make a mistake, the judge doesn't care. They just ring the bell and you do it again. There were quite a few errors in the tests that day, and they were no big deal.  The judge didn't get mad, or even annoyed.  People make mistakes.  And, since judges need to have a pretty impressive show record before they're even allowed to try to become judges, your judge has probably done some pretty dumb stuff in the ring, too.  They understand.

I was very surprised when it came time to score the 4th level tests.  I thought for sure I was going to get behind and miss scores or comments, but they were actually much easier than the lower level tests.  They flow better and there's much less "dead space", places where you're just trying to get from point A to B.  Less dead space means less time to zone out and screw something up (I am frequently guilty of this).  It also means you need to be sharper with the aids, which translates into better riding overall.

Overall, now that I've sat in the judges box and listened to the comments, I feel a lot better about showing.  Also, now that I've heard the comments and scores for several 3rd and 4th level tests, I don't find them so scary anymore.  I'm not ready to go out and show 3rd and 4th tomorrow, or even next month, but I don't think it's out of reach for us anymore.  I'm a lot more comfortable with them than I was, just from sitting in the judge's box for a day.

I can't wait to do it again with a different judge.  Who knows, maybe I'll set my sights on PSG!


  1. Replies
    1. It was a great experience! From what I hear, scribes are in pretty high demand, so get out there and volunteer.

  2. Sounds like a great learning experience, and a good way to get over fear of judges too. Are there handwriting requirements? Mine seems to deteriorate the older I get... Thanks for sharing.

    (computer issues resolved yet?!)

    1. If there were handwriting requirements, I would not have qualified! It was really great to hear the feedback on all the tests, to hear what the judge is really looking for overall. I usually only get to see the comments on my own test, this gave me a much broader perspective.

      Internet is still being sketchy, but I've been able to get it working a bit. It's a wiring issue. Unfortunately, the wires in question run underneath our cement carport, which makes them a little difficult to fix!

  3. I had a feeling you were going to enjoy yourself. A few judges I've met are kind of the "monsters at C" but most of the time, after I've sat with them for a few rides, they become much more human. *G*

    Getting to sit beside a good judge is a great experience. Sounds as if you did a great job and will do so again next time out. It's hard work for the brain, but a great learning experience.

    On to PSG!! I did it and it's a blast!

    1. Ha! I think much of the "monstrousness" comes from unfamiliarity. It's really hard to read tone, especially when you're writing in short phrases. I know I've gotten some tests back and said "now what did she mean by THAT?!". It probably wasn't meant to be as offensive as I took it.

  4. THats fantastic. I'm glad you had a good time and learnt so much. I wish more people were willing to give it a go and help out at their local clubs. You will be doing PSG in your sleep soon!!!

  5. I hope so!

    It was a great experience. Not scary at all, everyone at the show was very helpful and very supportive. The judge and all the staff really helped me through and they were all so happy to see someone new learning the ropes. Plus, I gained so much experience and knowledge helping out! It is such a great thing to do. Every horseman should do it at some point!


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