Adventures in Scribing

I love to scribe. It’s a complete toss-up as to whether scribing or jump judging is my favorite volunteer activity – though really, I can’t think of one I really dislike. Jump judging on a clear day might have the edge; nothing like hanging out with gorgeous horses and reading poetry all day.
Sunday, I scribed for one of the biggest recognized dressage shows in the state. I did Training through Third Level tests for an S judge from 8:00 am – 4:30 pm. It was a long day.
We saw an awful lot of really nice horses, and a few really nice riders. The judge was hilarious, and had a really keen eye. I was tired and stressed and not as engaged as I usually am, and it took me a long time to get into the rhythm of the day. 
If you’ve scribed a few times, you know that there’s an adjustment period with each new judge: you spend a little while learning when and whether they like to be reminded for scores, what comments they make frequently so you can anticipate them, whether they like to be kept on track at all, etc. I just felt like it took me longer than it should have to start clicking with the judge, but by late morning we were rolling. I was subdued enough through the day that she actually referred to me as “quiet” and “sweet” which…is not usually how people describe me.
My favorite pairs were rarely the typical ones, with the big flashy gaits and the perfect tests. (We didn’t see many, if any, perfect tests.) They were the ones where there was clearly a lot of hard work and love behind the test. There was an older woman who was smiling in a way that told me she was terrified underneath, riding a huge 17hh horse, and I was nervous when I saw them circling the ring – and then they entered and the horse just took care of her. He loved her.
There was a little girl on a Welsh pony whose nose was stuck determinedly parallel to the ground the entire time but who trotted around with such determination that I couldn’t help but crack up. There was a young woman on a Morgan horse who looked like an incredibly complicated and tricky ride but who handled every moment with such tact. There was a young girl with a messy ponytail, skull cap, off-kilter helmet cover, and half-chaps riding a big leggy Thoroughbred who did.not.want. but my God the fierceness of that girl as she firmly and clearly got the job done. There was another young girl who was clearly green and learning but the bare bones of her basic teaching were so good, and so evident, and the horse she was on was educated and precise and just pleasant, and there were moments in the test that were like looking ten years into the future into the blooming of a truly lovely rider.
I had agreed to scribe way back in the early spring, and I was not looking forward to it with everything else that was going on, but I was so, so glad I went.
dressage · scribing

Scribing at Vermont Dressage Days

I spent this past Sunday scribing in one of two rings at one of Vermont’s bigger recognized dressage shows, Vermont Dressage Days. I’d been to the show in the past, when I lived in Vermont before, but this year I was asked to volunteer. One of the longtime organizers is a former co-owner of my barn and a friend. I said yes, of course – I am a sucker for any kind of horse volunteering, and scribing is close to the top of my list of favorite things to do. (It’s probably a three-way tie between scribing, jump judging, and ring stewarding.)

Tools of the trade: order of go, tests, blue and red pens, water, tea, watch, and the wrapper from my breakfast burrito.
I was coming down with a bad cold, and it was a very long day: tests right from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. I’ve never scribed so many tests above Training level in my life, and once you get past Second level those movements come fast and furious. I had to take several breaks to shake my hand out.
What an absolutely phenomenal day, though. I have never scribed for a better judge, on so many levels. She was right on top of the game, and I can count the number of times I had to remind her to give me a score, or got mixed up because she gave too many scores at once, on one hand. I’ve never scribed for such an efficient, knowledgeable judge.
She also knew those tests cold. Many other judges I’ve worked with have had to take a minute or two when we switch test. Not this judge! All I had to do was give her the test, she flipped to her spot in the binder, and bam, we were good to go. Amazing. She gave a full range of scores (first time I’ve ever written a 1.0!) and I loved how she adjusted her expectations for the test in front of her. It was definitely the first time I’ve ever written “poll too low” on a Training level test!
I was also impressed and thrilled when a judge in training approached and asked to observe for the day. So not only did I get the judge’s comments – which were insightful and spot-on – but I got the conversation between the judge and the student after and sometimes during each test as they compared the scores they had given. I also learned a TON about the inside track of becoming a USDF judge. Fascinating stuff.
Lunch was fabulous, and the show had rented an RV so that judges and officials could have a quiet place to relax. I got to eat lunch with the judges. Spoiled. Not only that, but there was a cooler full of cold beverages and a basket full of snacks at our booth all day and I got an awesome t-shirt. (Photo of that forthcoming.)
I’d volunteer for them again in a heartbeat, and I’m glad I did this weekend. What an absolutely incredible learning experience!


Sunday, Sunday

My original plan for this Sunday was to spend it at home, catching up on chores and such that I haven’t done in…well, six weeks at the very least. Ugh.

But the barn asked me on Friday night if I could help out at the show on Sunday, and I am constitutionally incapable of saying no. So while I did get to sleep in and do a few things this morning (tried out a new waffle recipe!) off to the barn I went.
First things first, I did another White Lightning soak of Tristan’s hinds.
Then I headed up the hill to get started on scribing. It was a gorgeous day today, if cold. Fall is here with a vengeance – look over the truck on the left-hand side of the picture and you’ll see an early tree turning scarlet. 2-3 weeks and this hill will look like it’s on fire.

Then I settled in to scribe about an hour and a half worth of tests, including Fourth 1. It’s been a long time since I scribed above Second Level, holy mackerel they go fast.

Our dressage ring is gorgeous but believe it or not I’ve never worked up the courage to ask about the rules for riding in it. Which I realize is stupid but it is so fancy and I have an indoor and another perfectly lovely outdoor to ride in plus all the dirt roads and the fields, so…it’s not for lack of space!

Last but not least I scribed a western dressage test. I am not sure I “got it.” I kept reading the judging comments and…I dunno. Maybe I’m a snob. The pair that rode this test were rather nice – the horse was a Fell stallion with a really pleasant look – but not what my eye would call First Level.

Then I headed back down to the barn and applied Durasole liberally to Tristan’s back feet. I can always tell when it’s started to catch and improve his feet as less and less of it will soak in. There are a couple of spots where it’s made a huge difference already, and a few spots where I’d like to see a tougher, thicker hoof.
adventures with the vet · rehab · road hacking · scribing

Busy, busy, busy!

Sunday I spent most of the day at the barn. I started off scribing for a schooling show, with this gorgeous view:

Then I headed down to the barn to get ready for Tristan’s noon massage appointment. I had some time to kill, so I organized my tack trunk under supervision of Barn Cat Squirt:

Then I got on Tris and did 20 minutes of walking and 5 of trot. He was a bit tired and wobbly after the trot, but felt even and sound and generally very good. His massage went well – he was in need of work but no hot spots jumped out.

After the massage, back up the hill to eat lunch and run tests from the judges to the scorekeepers, and then to watch the last few tests – a few second levels and a western dressage test. I am not sure what to make of the western test; it looked pleasant and steady enough but was supposedly a first level test and I didn’t see anything like what I would characterize as first level dressage work. I think I’m just not sure what to look for.

Just as the last test was ending, we were put under a severe weather alert. Those mountains, from the photo above, started disappearing as black clouds headed our way. We put everything away as quickly as possible, I went down to the barn to bring Tris back inside (I’d left him out in a paddock with some hay) and got in my car to head home. The storm was already in Montpelier, but I thought I’d be able to cut a corner of it and be ok.

Nope! In fact, I never got more than a few miles from the barn – trees and branches down everywhere, wind buffeting my car, unbelievable dark skies and clear lightning bolts. I turned back around, parked at the barn, and helped the trainer batten down the hatches and fill water buckets before we lost power.

The storm blew over fairly quickly, but it was intense while it lasted. Another 45 minutes or so and I headed home, determined to wind through back roads now that driving was safer. I did have to go offroad around one tree, but once I got back on state roads driving was fine.

Monday I put a saddle on and we explored some of the dirt roads, doing about 20 minutes of walking, and then headed back to the barn to do some trot work on better, more level footing. Another student was doing a little fake course – poles laid out on outside lines and diagonals like a hunter course – to practice riding with intent and remembering a course. The barn manager, who was teaching the lesson, asked if I could be a “competitor” to show the student how a different person might ride the lines.

I entered the ring, circled to set up an approach to the first “jump”, and asked Tristan for a trot. His brain clicked in, and he pretty clearly looked around and said “Ohhhhh, I get it, we’re riding a course! For courses, we canter!” So he gave me a stride of canter – correct lead, no less! I cracked up and brought him back to a trot. He offered another stride when we turned from long side to diagonal. Other than that he did great and it was fun to ride even over a pretend course!

Tonight we did some bareback hacking up dirt roads, and then trot in the indoor ring. At some point today he rubbed dirt into his left eye, and it was a bit more swollen and weepy than I wanted to see. It’s not unusual for him to grind things into his eye; when he rolls he really rubs his head hard, and his tear ducts have always been extra weepy. He’s had outright eye infections before, but this time it was swollen but not frighteningly so, weepy with clear tears, not any kind of pus, and still itchy – not painful – so I flushed it with saline, applied a hot compress for a bit, and they will check on him in the morning. If it’s still iffy we’ll get the vet out again. Of course…