Saluting Scribes

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I try to scribe a couple times a year, if only to hear someone else’s voice in my head. The Judge Margaret narrative sluicing between my ears can become pretty monotone if I’m not careful. When I can, I try to scribe at a CDI or some major event so I can hear what experienced judges are saying about top horses and riders. I always want to hear more about 8s, 9s and 10s.

This was pretty much my only view of horses for two days, a brief glance of the warm-up lap between tests.

This was pretty much my only view of horses for two days, a brief glance of the warm-up lap between tests.

Last weekend, the American Eventing Championships came here to Tryon, and it was a perfect opportunity for me to scribe, since the dressage would be mid-week and would keep my weekend free, which is always welcome! It was also an opportunity for me to pitch in for my local equestrian community as a volunteer, and more than 100 volunteers were needed for this event just for the dressage phase, not to mention hundreds more for cross-country and jumping.

One thing about scribing, though. If you are working with a good judge who has lots of valuable observations to make, you aren’t going to see any horses. Your nose and eyes will be down the entire time. (My judge asked me if I was going to need Surpass for my hand at the end of the day.) You are allowed to look up between tests, if only to verify the number attached to the on-deck horse.

As I was writing frantically, I kept thinking about all the things that concern me about my scribes when I am judging: Is the handwriting legible, and – even more important – are the numbers clearly legible!? Do the abbreviations make sense? Am I getting everything down with the exact same wording as the judge? Please, please, please, don’t miss any numbers! (I did, once, but caught it within a couple movements so the boxes stayed aligned.)

As an aside, if writing a large “O” equals both “circle” and “round,” do riders get it when you write: O nt O?

All this served to remind me that scribes are invaluable. I certainly treasure the scribes who spend long days with me in all kinds of weather – I am not sure riders who haven’t scribed themselves realize the invaluable service provided by good scribes, since they allow the judge to fully concentrate on the performance in the ring.

As much as I look forward to my occasional scribing forays, they are also a bit frustrating. I am hearing the judge say good comments and drop high numbers and I want to look up and see for myself. I have perfected a technique to keep my nose down and my finger on the correct line while glancing up through my eyebrows briefly, but it is never enough. Maybe, just maybe, next time I will volunteer to run tests. Runners can stand in the back of the box between tests and actually both watch and listen.

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