I often spend my weekends scribing at horse shows. It’s a great way to learn what the judges are looking for and learn to appreciate all aspects of the industry. Over Memorial Day weekend I had the opportunity to scribe at the Zone 2 Region show in South Jordan, Utah.
I’ll say this, it takes many hands to make a show successful, often as exhibitors we focus so much on ourselves and our horses we often forget that everyone’s role is important and that the opinions of more than just the judges matter.
Every exhibitor should at one point in their show career have to do one of the following: announce, scribe, ring steward, man the gate or help at the office. These five jobs are the most thankless positions at the show and in all honesty the most vital to making a show a success. Sure the judge plays a large part but without a scribe to tabulate scores, a ring steward to direct horses, a gateman to check numbers and move traffic in and out in a timely manner the timing of a show can be significantly stretched.
A good announcer ensures that exhibitors are aware not only of their placings but the schedule of the day. They can quickly slow down a show if they are unable to multi-task or keep the show moving at a reasonable pace.
The office staff has many jobs; they answer thousands of questions throughout the day. They have to have the patience of a god. These women (and men) are there hours before the start of a show day and stay hours after to calculate all-around scores, enter judge’s cards and do it all with a smile on their face even if they don’t get more than 2-3 hours of sleep or a decent meal without being interrupted by exhibitors needing answers.
Having worked many shows in various positions, I understand the importance of each. Below is a list of tips that will help you as an exhibitor get on the good side of not only the judges but the show staff.
Watch your schooling. Yes we all get frustrated when we haul our horses away from home, spend money on entry fees and then have things go south in the pen. Sure our seasoned horses can get “show smart” and need to be schooled in the class. As an exhibitor keep in mind from the moment you step on the show grounds all eyes are on you. Many AQHA/APHA judges are also trainers, sure they might not be judging that day watching you get after your horse for being a pickle or generally losing your temper but that memory sticks with them at the next show they are judging where you are competing. First impressions are hard to do over.
Don’t take it personal. Not everyone can win every show, every class. At the end of the day you are paying for someone’s opinion of one run at one moment in time. Taking a placing personal or saying things like “well I must have made that judge mad” or “they just don’t like my horse” just makes you look bad. Focus your energy on what you can do to improve. Take a look at the score cards from your classes see what maneuvers are hurting your performance and work to improve them for the next time.
Don’t make them wait at the cone or at the gate. No one likes to be waited on or rushed. To avoid the feeling of being rushed to the marker or the gate get there early. Learn the timing of the shows and figure out how long it takes to get yourself and your horse ready. Five minutes may not seem like much but when 6 exhibitors make the judges wait that adds 30 minutes to the show block. Show respect and show up on time or early for your classes.
When they say clear the arena. CLEAR THE ARENA. Nothing slows down a show faster than one exhibitor who thinks they are above the announcement or that two more laps around won’t hurt. Show staffs plan their time and try to keep shows from going all hours of the night. No one wants to be on grounds at 1am. Be courteous and exit when asked.
Say thank you. I would call this the golden rule, engrained in us from childhood but often goes unspoken in the show world. At the end of the show take 5 minutes after paying your bill and thank the show staff for putting on the show/taking entries, thank the gateman for his/her help and if time permits thank the judges for their time.