Thursday, April 30, 2015


Inspiration can come from a lot of places. Most people are talking about World Cup and Rolex when they talk about inspiration right now, and that's all well and good. We should be watching the people at the top of our sport to see how they ride and train, but inspiration doesn't always have to come from such lofty sources.

Last weekend I scribed for one of the first USEF shows of the season here in my corner of Region 1. April is pretty early for us, most of the Really Big Names are still in Wellington or just coming back up, so the show was filled with just the Regular Joes. Since I'm just one of the Regular Joes, too, I really enjoyed scribing this one.

I saw flubbed changes, bucking and kicking out in transitions, errors galore, refusals, some wild careening around the ring and at least two "Oh, SHIT!" moments.

Why is that inspiring? Because it's what we all go through. Most of the competitors at the show were Adult Amateurs, and the Pros who were there were not riding Valegro. I learned a lot more scribing that show than I could ever learn watching the World Cup.

It's good to watch people at the top of the sport, but don't forget to watch the regular people, too. The people at the top of the sport started out as regular people, and they got to the top by getting out there and doing it in spite of all their screw ups. All those Big Names had their days as Regular Joes who flubbed changes, had bucking and kicking in transitions, made errors galore, careened around the ring and thought, "Oh SHIT!" many times.

For me, my inspiration was that the PSG isn't so scary anymore. I scribed several PSG tests and saw the best and the worst of that level, sometimes in the same test.

What I took away from it was, "Hey, I can do this, too!"

And I highly recommend scribing for shows as a great way to make everything about shows less scary. I have scribed many shows of all levels and have never met a judge who was mean or scary. I've worked with a lot of judges, from "Learner (L)" judges to FEI, and they were all very kind and positive.

Scribing has taught me that the judge really wants to see the competitor do their best, and they'll reward a gung-ho try that falls short over a half-assed attempt at coasting through a movement. It's taught me that the judge really wants you to just ride your test correctly. It's also taught me that the judge really can't tell a damn thing about you or your horse when you ride your test, they're judging this ride in this moment.

Leave your baggage at A and ride your test.

But try not to do this.


  1. interesting! i'm interested in scribing for a judge for exactly these reasons, but haven't been really trying to make it happen...maybe i should try a little harder lol

    1. If you have a local USDF GMO (Group Member Organization, not Genetically Modified Organism), contact them and tell them you would like to volunteer. The GMOs usually sponsor or put on most local shows and are always desperate for volunteers!

  2. I need to get in to that. I keep dipping a toe in dressage land, but I'm afraid if I volunteer, they'll make me stay.

  3. The old PSG test was a really nice ride. Haven't looked at the new version, but seems to me the FEI tests are nicely constructed. I'm sure you can do it.

  4. I wish hunters did this -- I'd love to scribe!

  5. This is why I love scribing (I do NOT love scribing for the carpal tunnel numbness and hand/arm cramps!). Thanks for the confidence reminder. We are "debuting" 3rd level in two weeks, and I'm intimidated as hell. Our changes are sketchy, and our collection doesn't feel there, but our half pass is baller about 85% of the time. I need to think back to the 3rd level tests I've seen where the horse has blown a change and still done okay. Zero people were shot at the end of a crappy 3rd level test. Zero. I will not get shot.

    ... probably.

  6. I am clearly behind in reading, but this is EXACTLY what I need to hear right now. We haven't shown since November, and I have a CDS-rated show this next weekend. I feel like we're not all that ready, but I need to just get out there and do it to see where we really are. Maybe it's not as bad as I think. Thanks for some perspective. :0)

  7. I missed this post! Just came back to your blog after seeing the very thoughtful comment you left on mine. This is all great advice, thanks.


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