Dear dressage competition organizers - a mini rant

PolarSkye

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My lovely dressage trainer (who is also a friend) was asked to judge a RC area championship and, as I am her designated scribe, that meant I went along too.

Being responsible and wanting to come across in a professional manner, we arrived a good 45 minutes before the class began. Good job too. It was a very big class (there were two arenas and our arena alone had 40 plus entries), and, despite having published the times, the organizers hadn't bothered to fill in ANY of the identifying details at the top of the sheets. Not even venue, date, judge's name . . . never mind horse, rider, number and section. So I spent that 45 minutes heading all the sheets with the relevant information - I find there usually isn't time between horses/riders once the class begins. In addition, there was an awful lot of confusion to do with last-minute changes - I was given a list of changes, made the changes on the sheets (which I had by now pre-written - the top part), only to be told that I had been given the WRONG changes. Grrrrr.

Lastly, because there were only two arenas (and if we had half in our arena a good 80 plus competitors to get through), we ran significantly over giving us only one two-minute toilet break from the time we arrived (8.30) to the time we left (2.45). Organizers very kindly brought round cups of tea twice, and someone brought me a bacon sandwich but I didn't have a moment to either eat or drink.

I get that things change - one competitor was late because her horse wouldn't load, entirely fair - and because we were dealing with team events and things happen we had quite a few substitutions - and I don't have a problem with being flexible/working on the fly . . . but, at the beginning of the day especially, there was rather more confusion than was necessary.

My trainer and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the lovely combinations try their very best - there were some real stand-outs for various reasons - and it's always fun to support the sport . . . but both of us would have to think long and hard before we judged/scribed for that particular event again. If the organizers had sent me the sheets beforehand, I would have been more than happy to pre-write the identifying information the night before - however, I do think it's something organizers should consider taking on themselves. Judges/stewards, etc. give their time and energy for the love of the sport and to support the grassroots organizations - but organizers ought to be thinking about making things as easy as possible for them to do what they are there for.

Rant over - am I being unreasonable or am I just expecting too much?

P
 

ester

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As I writer I have always headed the sheets...... Having been an organiser too that would mean one person pre-writing hundreds of sheets as well as organising everything else so sorry yes I do think you are expecting too much on that front! - Also if there are changes (which can happen quite a lot at RC/team events) it prevents 'spoiling' any test sheets with wrong names. - as you discovered. I have never had a problem having time to do this before the entry at A/while judge is writing comments for previous competitor.
 

ihatework

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I think you are entitled to a couple of longer toilet breaks definitely.

The pre-filled test sheets - absolutely not. Not standard at all.
I write a lot and there is plenty of time to pre-fill inbetween horses.
Saves wasting sheets (which have to be purchased individually).
 

ester

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There are maximum numbers that one judge is allowed to judge for though at area champs/time permitted to judge and rules on breaks afaik.
 

PolarSkye

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As I writer I have always headed the sheets...... Having been an organiser too that would mean one person pre-writing hundreds of sheets as well as organising everything else so sorry yes I do think you are expecting too much on that front! - Also if there are changes (which can happen quite a lot at RC/team events) it prevents 'spoiling' any test sheets with wrong names. - as you discovered. I have never had a problem having time to do this before the entry at A/while judge is writing comments for previous competitor.

But the test sheets were spoiled anyway due to the changes/confusion so it wouldn't have made any difference on that front - and when I scribe for my trainer, I write everything - even the comments.

P
 

ester

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Of course it would - you write the details as the competitor enters the ring and you have checked who they are.....

The judge usually writes their own comments and signs for this reason, maybe you need to train her better ;) as that really isn't the organiser's job.
 

PolarSkye

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There are maximum numbers that one judge is allowed to judge for though at area champs/time permitted to judge and rules on breaks afaik.

I'd love to know what the max number is and what the rules are on breaks, etc. Neither of us minded/begrudged the time, it was the lack of breaks that did us in.

P
 

ihatework

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But the test sheets were spoiled anyway due to the changes/confusion so it wouldn't have made any difference on that front - and when I scribe for my trainer, I write everything - even the comments.

P

Different arguments.

The changes in rider combos are inevitable in RC team competitions (although I have to say this is VERY early for summer qualifiers which is weird)

If you do them competitor by competitor then you at least get the competitor number right and can always call out to double check the name.

I'd tell your trainer to write their own collective comments like every other qualified judge does ... it is that time gap that you need to use to prep the next sheet
 

PolarSkye

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Of course it would - you write the details as the competitor enters the ring and you have checked who they are.....

The judge usually writes their own comments and signs for this reason, maybe you need to train her better ;)

Ha ha - you might be right ;). It's true that when I've scribed for other judges, I've not had this issue - it's just the way we work.

Incidentally, she is running the dressage section of a local show at the end of the summer - and judging (which means I'm scribing) - I will be getting the sheets ahead of time and filling in at least the venue, date and judge's name. I get the point about riders/horses/numbers/sections wrt to last minute changes/cost of sheets.

P
 

ihatework

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I'd love to know what the max number is and what the rules are on breaks, etc. Neither of us minded/begrudged the time, it was the lack of breaks that did us in.

P

You were fine on the numbers.
But no breaks is not good - you would need to check the rule books but I would have expected you to get a minumum of 3 x 10 min breaks for a 40 horse class.
 

Britestar

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Definately not something I would ever do as an organiser. There are always too many changes and no-shows to waste sheets like that.
As a writer I've always had plenty of time to fill in the next sheet as the judge is writing the comments at the bottom of the previous one.
There should be a 10-15 min break every 15 horses for judges. I know sometimes as things run late that can be shorter as you try to catch up, but also as an organiser, leaving 6 or sometime 7 minutes between tests means you shouldn't get to far behind, barring those who are really late, and in that case get the next one in and slot that person in later. (actually, if they've just been faffing about and you tell them they can't go in as they are too late, they won't do it again!).

If you get hold of an BRC organisers handbook, you will find a chart that tells you the max allowed in each test per judge, plus the recommended time between each test.
 
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TarrSteps

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I think you are entitled to a couple of longer toilet breaks definitely.

The pre-filled test sheets - absolutely not. Not standard at all.
I write a lot and there is plenty of time to pre-fill inbetween horses.
Saves wasting sheets (which have to be purchased individually).

I've written and been involved in organising dressage shows from the most basic to CDI level and NEVER had sheets prewritten. Nor, as a writer, have I prewritten the whole lot before the competition. It's not the way it's done and I would be pretty surprised if a writer or judge got annoyed about it. The whole point is that things will change and so the only time you make up a sheet for a horse is when it's trotting around in front of you.

Re breaks, there is, as ester says, a set number of horses then a break provided for in the rules. Obviously the management should be on this but if not the judge has a perfect right to request it. I've had judges refuse their break if the time is getting short - it can be a serious issue if you're using international judges and they have planes to catch - but even that is a bit dicey because I wouldn't want an uncomfortable judge.
 

meardsall_millie

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Another who has never had the sheets pre-filled!

I wrote for one of the intermediate sections at Belton the other day and we had over 40 in the class. There were 2 scheduled 10 minute breaks which we didn't get for various reasons but we managed just fine and had a great time!
 

PolarSkye

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Another who has never had the sheets pre-filled!

I wrote for one of the intermediate sections at Belton the other day and we had over 40 in the class. There were 2 scheduled 10 minute breaks which we didn't get for various reasons but we managed just fine and had a great time!

We had a great time too - but five hours with one two-minute toilet break (I literally had just enough time to walk to the portaloo, go, and then walk back - next horse was already trotting around the outside) and nothing to eat or drink left us both a tad uncomfortable. It wasn't the end of the world, I just thought it wasn't necessarily that well-organized and we both felt a little rushed . . . at no point did anyone ask if we needed ten minutes to stretch our legs, get some fresh air, etc., they just kept sending riders through.

P
 

Fuzzypuff

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As the others have said, I would expect proper breaks. There is something in the BD rule book about breaks for judges so it would be good to find that and tell the venue in advance that this is what you expect.

WRT to sheet, these should be written as the next horse comes in, as a writer I would expect them to do this and to only write rider/horse details once they have confirmed the number on the horse matches that what they are expecting. As a writer you should not be writing the collective comments at the bottom, it is for the judge to fill out this and the collectives while you write the next sheet. This is what I expect from my writers now that I am judging.

Also where I have written they get upset if you waste sheets, which is why they are filled out as each competitor enters the ring. It could get expensive otherwise!
 

TarrSteps

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OP, did you mean you were also writing the collectives and comments? The standard procedure is for the judge to start doing this as soon as the final halt mark has been given, while the writer gets organised for the next horse. That way the judge is ready to ring the bell asap.
 

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I write quite often and I have never known the details to be filled in on the sheets for me. Occasionally a lunch break is factored in but sometimes if things get behind it doesn't happen. When toilet breaks are required we just nip out between competitors and hurry up.
 

Ferdinase514

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What?! That is normal!

Organisers aren't expected to head the sheets for you.

Lack of breaks isn't on though. I check the list when it is sent to me and ask for breaks if none there. Have to say it is more common at RC/PC
 

TarrSteps

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Just another note, there is actually no reason for judges to have an entry sheet - so long as the number is on the test, that's sufficient identification. In fact there is a school of thought that judges shouldn't, as much as possible, know the competitors or horses in case such knowledge subconsciously affects their perspective. I wrote for a judge one who asked me questions about the competitors, who they trained with etc. Drove me mad! At another show I judged the organiser, who was also the yard manager, kept telling me the horses' purchase prices and which ones were from the venue! :eek:
 

Tnavas

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My lovely dressage trainer (who is also a friend) was asked to judge a RC area championship and, as I am her designated scribe, that meant I went along too.

Being responsible and wanting to come across in a professional manner, we arrived a good 45 minutes before the class began. Good job too. It was a very big class (there were two arenas and our arena alone had 40 plus entries), and, despite having published the times, the organizers hadn't bothered to fill in ANY of the identifying details at the top of the sheets. Not even venue, date, judge's name . . . never mind horse, rider, number and section. So I spent that 45 minutes heading all the sheets with the relevant information - I find there usually isn't time between horses/riders once the class begins. In addition, there was an awful lot of confusion to do with last-minute changes - I was given a list of changes, made the changes on the sheets (which I had by now pre-written - the top part), only to be told that I had been given the WRONG changes. Grrrrr.

Lastly, because there were only two arenas (and if we had half in our arena a good 80 plus competitors to get through), we ran significantly over giving us only one two-minute toilet break from the time we arrived (8.30) to the time we left (2.45). Organizers very kindly brought round cups of tea twice, and someone brought me a bacon sandwich but I didn't have a moment to either eat or drink.

I get that things change - one competitor was late because her horse wouldn't load, entirely fair - and because we were dealing with team events and things happen we had quite a few substitutions - and I don't have a problem with being flexible/working on the fly . . . but, at the beginning of the day especially, there was rather more confusion than was necessary.

My trainer and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the lovely combinations try their very best - there were some real stand-outs for various reasons - and it's always fun to support the sport . . . but both of us would have to think long and hard before we judged/scribed for that particular event again. If the organizers had sent me the sheets beforehand, I would have been more than happy to pre-write the identifying information the night before - however, I do think it's something organizers should consider taking on themselves. Judges/stewards, etc. give their time and energy for the love of the sport and to support the grassroots organizations - but organizers ought to be thinking about making things as easy as possible for them to do what they are there for.

Rant over - am I being unreasonable or am I just expecting too much?

P

I write regularly and have done for 15 years or so. It's a real treat to have details pre written. Some places I get stickers, most I write up myself. Some of my judges write their own comments but most of the time I write for them.

You think you were hard done by writing from 8:30 - 2:45' last week. Wrote from 8:00am and finished at 3:48. 4 classes, 10 minute breaks every 10th horse. We ran spot on to time despite a few riders stuffing up their times. One rider eliminated for arriving 20 mins late, same rider had done the same thing at the previous weekend. Told that if she couldn't be on time then tough! She won't do that again.

We were given thermos and food for the day. We did grumble to the organiser, we were somewhat sympathetic as it was a secondary schools competition and she was desperately trying to ensure that they could get home in daylight.

It's not the organisers fault if people chop and change classes, times and horses. However organisers in general should get tougher - once entered and times allotted, no changes.
 

Honey08

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I love dressage writing, its so interesting! I've never had sheets pre filled in either. I usually write a couple as we get into the car, then do the rest while the judge fills in their comments at the end. I usually write for pc dressage, and they're ridiculously generous with their food and breaks, sometimes there are too many breaks and we'd rather just get on with it!
 

Ferdinase514

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@ TarrSteps I don't even read the names as I fill in the collectives. I recognise people occasionally if I've judged them before but it's irelevent really who they are. I am of course the perfect example of a perfect judge :p ;)

....,but then I'm mostly oblivious to who people are
 

kc100

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As someone who has just got a new job as a competition organiser/show secretary (and former writer myself) - sheets are NEVER pre-filled! BD charge competition venues for each sheet, and if you pre-filled based on your entries list chances are you'd waste a good few sheets with people withdrawing, not turning up etc. Competition venues dont make much profit as it is, so wasting valuable sheets is not an option.

Competition organisers/stewards dont get breaks or drinks either, the competitors are always number 1, followed by the judge and writer, then lastly (after you've managed to poo pick the warm up and competition arenas) you might get to go to the toilet if you are lucky.

You must see all of the grief the stewards/organisers get, they are being pestered to put results up faster, someone will be asking 'can you just read my test for me, I want a caller', someone will need you to take their horse's boots off, you need to remind the next competitor they are due in 5 mins, get them in and out of the competition arena, someone wants to enter on the day and needs to pay you, someone has got the wrong time, someone doesnt show up, all the while trying to add up sheets properly and not make a mistake because they are rushing, judge needs paying, writer needs their bottle of wine/voucher/thank you token etc......its MAYHEM as the organiser/steward.

So yes its not ideal you dont get a toilet break or many drinks, but you are there because you enjoy it and the organiser/steward isnt doing it for the money either (its not well paid I can assure you!). If the drinks bother you that much bring your own flask or a bottle of water, and try and spot a moment in the schedule you can go to the toilet (ideally a big-ish break between classes) and run for it. rest assured the organiser hasnt been to the toilet either, hasnt had a drink in hours nor have they sat down all day.

This is simply life as a writer/judge/competition steward, somehow we find it enjoyable and do it for the love of it - after my first day when I was totally knackered and my mind completely boggled, it still put a smile on my face seeing 4 riders who'd just done their first PSG all get good scores and have huge smiles on their faces. Try and have a bit of sympathy for your competition organisers/stewards, they are making the best of a very difficult situation and are doing the best they can!
 

Tnavas

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As someone who has just got a new job as a competition organiser/show secretary (and former writer myself) - sheets are NEVER pre-filled! BD charge competition venues for each sheet, and if you pre-filled based on your entries list chances are you'd waste a good few sheets with people withdrawing, not turning up etc. Competition venues dont make much profit as it is, so wasting valuable sheets is not an option.

Competition organisers/stewards dont get breaks or drinks either, the competitors are always number 1, followed by the judge and writer, then lastly (after you've managed to poo pick the warm up and competition arenas) you might get to go to the toilet if you are lucky.

You must see all of the grief the stewards/organisers get, they are being pestered to put results up faster, someone will be asking 'can you just read my test for me, I want a caller', someone will need you to take their horse's boots off, you need to remind the next competitor they are due in 5 mins, get them in and out of the competition arena, someone wants to enter on the day and needs to pay you, someone has got the wrong time, someone doesnt show up, all the while trying to add up sheets properly and not make a mistake because they are rushing, judge needs paying, writer needs their bottle of wine/voucher/thank you token etc......its MAYHEM as the organiser/steward.

So yes its not ideal you dont get a toilet break or many drinks, but you are there because you enjoy it and the organiser/steward isnt doing it for the money either (its not well paid I can assure you!). If the drinks bother you that much bring your own flask or a bottle of water, and try and spot a moment in the schedule you can go to the toilet (ideally a big-ish break between classes) and run for it. rest assured the organiser hasnt been to the toilet either, hasnt had a drink in hours nor have they sat down all day.

This is simply life as a writer/judge/competition steward, somehow we find it enjoyable and do it for the love of it - after my first day when I was totally knackered and my mind completely boggled, it still put a smile on my face seeing 4 riders who'd just done their first PSG all get good scores and have huge smiles on their faces. Try and have a bit of sympathy for your competition organisers/stewards, they are making the best of a very difficult situation and are doing the best they can!

So know the feeling, last time I ran our Pony Clubs ODE , I started at 6:30 and finished twelve hours later and realised I'd had just one cup of tea and a sandwich all day

It's stressfully being the organiser and you generally don't get paid in any form at all.
 

Vodkagirly

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Surely if the judge wants a toilet break they just take one? I've been at a couple of competitions where just before I am due to go in the steward has let me know that the judge will be going to the loo/having a cigarette so will be another few minutes.

I would much rather be late than do a test in front of a pissed of judge.
 

monkeybum13

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I do a lot of writing and I have never had the sheets filled out before hand.

It takes less than 30 seconds to fill in each sheet and I do thatonce the competitor is in the arena having their initial trot round, you would waste an awful lot of sheets if they were filled out and then people WD.
 

Chirmapops

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Absolutely baffled by you expecting the names to be filled in beforehand - as an organiser I would never do that because of the cost of sheets, chances of withdrawals etc and because there's enough to do without creating extra work for yourself. As the scribe it's your responsibility to do this as the judge is filling in her collectives, making sure that the horse in front of you is actually the horse you're expecting to see. The judge should do the collectives herself - BD are quite clear on that. Is your trainer a BD registered judge?

As for breaks, you should have a break every 10 horses according to BD rules. If that doesn't happen and you're desperate for the loo then you need to speak to the organiser, I'm sure they won't be upset. However, do bear in mind that they will have been up far earlier than you, will have loads of people pestering them with questions, for scores (that they're trying to add up while some child's mum chews their ear off), to read tests etc and will be trying to get people in on time so the judge doesn't end up going home late - so be nice. I always made sure my judges had pastries and bottles of water in the car, so they were pretty self-sufficient, but it's easy to ask beforehand - particularly at RC shows I wouldn't automatically expect to be fed, and would stick a sandwich in my bag just in case.

Judges and writers are really important to dressage - but without organisers to actually put the time, effort and cash (because you have to stump up a lot of cash and usually only just break even) there would be no need for them, as there'd be nothing to judge!
 

Tnavas

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Surely if the judge wants a toilet break they just take one? I've been at a couple of competitions where just before I am due to go in the steward has let me know that the judge will be going to the loo/having a cigarette so will be another few minutes.

I would much rather be late than do a test in front of a pissed of judge.

No they shouldn't just take a break when they feel like it - YOU have been given a time to start and have worked your warm up accordingly, therefore the judge should wait until she has a break, usually 10 mins every 10 riders.

The reason for giving you times is to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to warm up their horse to its best, and for riders with more than one horse to have time between horses. You can't even be made to start before your time, the organiser may ask if you are prepared to start earlier but they can't force you.
 
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