by Jennifer L Carcaci Trumble
Scribing is when you act as a horse judge’s personal secretary. You sit for hours in a small booth or vehicle. Your job is to write down everything the judge says accurately and legibly, with no paraphrasing. The competitors pay good money to take the test. They want to know what the judge thinks and how to better their riding performance.
There is a set of abbreviations that you may use when scribing. These make it much easier to keep up with what the judge says and saves your hands from tiring quickly. You can find these abbreviations at
Why would someone volunteer to be a scribe? I do it for the love and the passion for the sport. If you want to improve your writing and understanding of what judges look for and look down on, I suggest you volunteer.
At first you will not be able to watch the test being performed. At this point don’t even try. Make sure you are sitting there quietly and keeping up with what the judge wants you to write down. If there’s something in the ride the judge wants to bring to your attention, they will ask you to look up. It may be an awesome movement or maybe that the horse may seem off and they want to know what you notice. Usually the ring steward will catch any illegal apparel or whips before they enter the ring, but as you learn you will be able to help notice illegal items before the test begins.
Here are your steps for the day.

  1. Get there a half hour early and go to the show office to pick up the tote made for you.

In your tote you will have:

  • the riding test
  • a bell
  • multiple pens
  • clipboards
  1. Go to your judging station box.
  • Clean up the station if it is needed.
  • Set up the station.
  • Put the bell on the desk
  • Set up both clipboards – one with the schedule and one with the first set of tests.
  1. Check the test against the riding schedule.

Tests must match the competitor’s number, horse’s name and test type.

  1. Turn your phone off. No distractions! Sit and speak with the judge. They will tell you the order and they will provide information on how they will be giving you with comments. Usually a judge will give you a comment then the score. If you’re not finish writing the comment before they gave you the score, write the score. The score is the most important part of the line. All scores must be written 5.0 or 5.5 never just a 5. This way no one can change the score. The judge will help you with the comment if you missed a portion due to writing down the score. If there was an error, use a red pen and label and circle the errors. Then describe what was to happen. If you have to write an arena letter they must be in capital letters. For example, at X is left of center.

Instructions on how to proceed for each rider

  • Get the rider’s name and number
  • Get the color and markings of the horse
  • Make sure they are on the right test.
  • Ring the bell when the judge is ready to watch the test.
  • Don’t make small talk with the riders.
  • Do not allow the riders to ask the judge any questions.
  • Once the test is over, check to make sure every line has a score and a comment in it. Hand the test to the judge. When the judge is finished check to make sure that he/she has signed the back of the test. Fold the test in half and hand it to the runner.

While learning to scribe I would suggest acting as an apprentice. Bring a notebook and write down what the judge is saying.
I have been scribing for 4 years now. I have found bringing certain items with me makes it easier.
Items are:

  • Water
  • Mints
  • Sunblock
  • Bug spray
  • Tissues
  • Pain reliever

Contact your local show club if you would like to learn how to scribe or if you would like to volunteer at any show doing any of the various jobs. They can get you in touch with the person in charge of volunteers.