This article won the 2019 GMO Newsletter Award for first person experience for GMOs with 75-174 members. It first appeared online on April 24, 2019 in the Southern Eventing and Dressage Association “The Bleep”
By Nicole Miller
One of the most necessary volunteer positions at any dressage show is that of the scribe. I’ve found that many people are apprehensive about taking on this role for a variety of reasons. For some, the importance of the role is intimidating, and they don’t want to mess it up. For others, they are intimidated by close proximity to a judge. And for still others, they can’t imagine sitting in a spot for that length of time and writing.
For all of those who find the prospect of scribing daunting, I’d like to assure you that, while it’s important and a bit of work, it’s also an incredibly rewarding experience.
I recently had the pleasure of scribing for Aviva Nebesky at SEDA’s spring Fleur de Leap show. Nearly everyone seemed pleased with her as judge, especially since she was willing to chat with each rider after their test to give them a few pointers on how to improve as well as telling them what she saw that she liked. As a rider myself, this information is invaluable.
I had the opportunity to hear (often over and over again) what is important to focus on, what to look for, and some ways to correct common errors. I can take this back to my own riding lessons and apply it, much like auditing a clinic.
One of the biggest take a ways from the day was the importance of accuracy in your test. I’m guilty myself of riding not-so-round circles, or circles that are too big or too small. Or not in the right place. The three-loop serpentine? It’s really three half circles, with a few steps across X which are parallel to the short side of the arena before changing bend. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ridden this incorrectly, but it’s fairly drilled into my brain now, so hopefully I can translate that to a better performance in the arena.
Another common mistake the judge sees right away is a crooked centerline. When we ride down the line, we assume we’re going straight. I can tell you the view at C tells a different story. So many riders rode crooked lines and so many horses were drifting left or right you’d swear it was post-happy-hour. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not easy to ride a straight line: but fixing that approach can gain you points right from the start and makes a favorable impression with the judge immediately. Spend a little time in your practice sessions riding straight from A to C: get someone to stand at C and let you know when you’re drifting. You’ll likely be amazed at how far off you are because it doesn’t seem like it from the back of the horse.
Has your trainer ever told you to ‘use your corners’? This was another common thing Ms Nebesky mentioned. There were quite a few lower level riders who went so deep into the corner it was impossible to come out straight or make a circle. As she said, there are no corners on circles, so it’s important to be aware how deep you ride into the corners. The takeaway? Use corners to set you up properly for the next movement or to position your horse but try not to overdo it! But, don’t cut the corners, either (I’m guilty of this, sometimes!).
One of my favorite things from the day was seeing the riders and their horses at the end of their test attentively listening to the information offered by the judge. I snapped many photos at this point because it was humorous to me how the horses and riders mirrored each other. They were exhausted but happy. Those who didn’t have the best ride ever, were cheerfully grateful for the kind words and immediate feedback that they could use to improve their next ride.
All in all, it was a great experience. I recommend to everyone to try their hand at scribing, even if it’s only for a few hours.You get to experience the personal side of the judges and gain a great deal of information in the process.
And, it’s a great opportunity to practice your penmanship.