September 6, 2016

AECs- Volunteering and Spectating

Tryon Internatinal Equestrian Center is about an hour from my house and I had to report at 7 am on Friday morning. Getting up when it is still dark out should only happen if I get to ride over 20 miles. Just saying.

When I pulled in, the sky was just getting light and the security guy told me to pull around and park in the gigantic, and unused, covered arena. I go ta small thrill as I drove right past the "Do Not Park in Arena" sign and parked.

Massive covered arena used as a storage space 

I meandered over to the volunteer check in and gave them my name and job for the  day: dressage score runner. I was given a boxed breakfast, a t-shirt which was amazing, and directions on where to report for duty. As I was leaving the building, I noticed several large boxes filled with random junk: pens, a plastic water bottle, various chips and granola bars. We were told to help ourselves which in my mind means grab a bag or two of chips, maybe a couple of pens and a water bottle and be on your merry way.

A little blurry, but there are road signs everywhere to help find your way around the facility

The lady in front of me took this to mean dumping the entire box of 1,000 pens into her bag and smiling to herself. When she looked my way I asked her if she had enough to which she glared and shoved past. People drive me crazy!

I had about 30 minutes before reporting in, so I stopped beside the arenas and grabbed a chair to eat my breakfast. Then it was off to the scoring tower and encounter #2 that made me want to punch someone in the face.

As I was standing inside the tower, a slender grey haired woman came in with a look that dripped with disdain for anyone else. She walked over to ta dressage judge and introduced herself as her scribe. The judge, quite naturally I thought, asked if she had scribed before to which the lady responded, and add as much high horse snobbery in as possible and then double it, "Ummmm...yeaaah...I've been doing eventing for 50 years."

If I had been the judge, I would have kicked her out. The judge one upped me though and asked her why she was just a scribe then and not a competitor or a judge herself!!! Ha!!!

Inside the scoring tower. The guy on the left was working dressage with a view of all 4 rings. To the right were the stadium judges and timers with a view of the stadium arena. 
After that it was pretty much smooth sailing as I was in charge of my own ring and my own time. I work better alone apparently.

View of ring 2 from the scoring tower
There were 4 of us runners and 4 arenas. Two people started fighting over arena 4 which was the intermediare ring. I was happy to stay out of that and instead wandered over to ring 2 which held the junior riders beginner novice test. That was more my style.

Dressage score running is pretty boring. I stood guard next to the arena entrance (down a small flight of stairs) until two people completed their tests and then I ran/walked over to the judges booth trying my best to be invisible and not ruin anyone's warm up, collected the two sheets and then headed to the scoring tower to deliver them.

It took me about 4 riders to memorize the test. At which point I then began to try to guess what the judge's comments would be: fussy in the contact, above vertical, bad geometry etc.. I never tried to guess the score because she never went below 6.0 and never went higher than a smattering of 8s with the vast majority being 6.5 and 7.0. I never really understood why she gave a 6.5 versus 7 in general because the comments on two tests would be the same but one would be higher.

It was really fun to try to guess and then read the score sheet and see if I was right.

I also got to hang out inside the judge booth for a while and listen in/learn to scribe. The judge was amazingly nice, had a great sense of humor and really liked to teach.

Stadium jumping arena

Some take away points:

- Every rider rode past the judge's booth at least once in warm up. Those who looked at the judge, smiled and said hello/thanks for being here routinely scored higher than those who just went past ignoring the judge.

- The just basically mirrored itself going each direction. If there was any amount of improvement at all on the second go round (so say you already did a 20 m canter circle to the left and were now going right), she automatically gave the rider 0.5 points higher than the first time.

- In this arena, on this day, the size, breed or color of horse made no difference. I saw big, fancy shiny horses and tiny little quarter ponies (adorable!!) and all received the same scores.

- Not a single jump saddle or AP saddle was to be seen. Every single rider was in a dressage saddle.

I left when the ring finished for the morning and was disappointed I wouldn't get to see any of the riders jump. I felt a little attached to those young riders on their small horses and ponies compared to the ring running behind me which was going Training and was filled with massive steeds.

Saturday afternoon, I convinced the hubby to head up to cross some cross country and stadium rounds. It is free parking/free entry and the weather was glorious. We arrived around 4 pm and caught a few cross country rounds and then staked out a spot on the turf in the shade to watch the Advanced stadium.

Cross country course. Dusty asked me if this was just stadium in a large field. I chuckled.
We sat in the shade, enjoying the cool breeze and low humidity while Wyatt made new friends and played. I wasn't paying too much attention to who was riding until I heard Boyd martin get called and then I started paying attention. There was some pretty famous company in that arena and it was really fun to watch.

Einstein hanging out

After Marilyn Little cinched the win, we wandered over to get Wyatt's face painted, have a go on the carousel and in the jump house. It felt more like being at a carnival rather than  a Championship horse event, but it was also really nice to have something for the kiddo to do.

Einstein was all wiped out after the afternoon spent watching the event
I'm still torn on whether or not I like the concept behind the facility, but it is a great venue for spectating and I learned a lot while running scores, so it was a win for me.


  1. ha that's quite the face design on Wyatt! sounds like a great experience all around. i really enjoy volunteering and have always gotten a lot of education out of the experience!

    1. She had mad painting skills. He was so proud of it too. Volunteering was really fun in the end and I hope to do more of it. Specially since I doubt I'll ever be brave enough to do any of it myself.

  2. Thank you for volunteering!!! And don't worry- there were a couple of bad volunteers that drove the organizers crazy!!! But overall I think it ran fairly smoothly and it was a fun event to spectate :)

    If you watched stadium Saturday that was the intermediate division- but those jumps are so huge that I can't tell anyways and just want to pee my pants thinking about jumping that height 😱

    The juniors were so frickin cute with their adorable ponies!! And don't worry about dressage saddles vs jump saddles for dressage- you'll probably see more variety at non championships and in the BN and definitely the starter level. I've only just started using my dressage saddle again at shows only because it helps me control Chimi's canter a bit better- otherwise jump saddle for the win!!!!

    1. I'll try to volunteer again next time they hold it there. Maybe a cross country jump judge or something. I loved watching the juniors. I was rooting for them all but the ones on the tiny ponies really captured my heart.