Sunday, August 3, 2008

My Day as a Horse Show Judge

I spent today judging a county-rated hunter and equitation horse show near San Diego. I've worked for this show management team before. They run a very structured yet fun show, with a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. That translates into me being able to wear a polo shirt, nice jeans and loafers while playing the role of Judge.
I decided to bring along my camera to snap a few photos from my perch upstairs in the judge's booth. Don't worry. I didn't miss a single thing while I was taking photos, which explains why I didn't quite succeed in capturing my day the way I planned. It's kind of hard to watch a jumping round, scribble notes on my score sheet and also peer through the viewfinder of my camera. But here's what I got, paired with my captions:

Never mind that I nearly fell backwards down the stairs trying to take this panoramic view from behind my little window seat... But that's my clipboard with my score sheet on the right and the stack of the day's jumping courses on the left. The orange walkie-talkie actually worked really well today. I could hear the backgate guy 100% of the time, which is nice. As a rider entered the arena, he'd tell me her number and which round she was riding. That prevents me from leaning out the two-story window like Rapunzel, craning my neck to determine the rider's number while she zooms past me on her way to a jump. And-- product placement!-- that's my bottle of "Izzie" carbonated fruit juice. I'm trying to go cold turkey on Coca-Cola this summer. A hopeless endeavor, I'm sure, but at least I made it through the horse show without any caffeinated soda.

Ah, there's nothing quite like the melee at the backgate as kids going out of the arena try to grab their ribbons while kids coming in the arena try to jockey for a place on the rail. That's the show manager-- the guy who will pay me at the end of the day-- trying hard not to get trampled. At this moment I'm nervously hoping that if he is indeed maimed, he's still able to put pen to check.

Since this show is aimed at young and novice riders, the show management team offers an assortment of really cute, useful items that appeal to horse crazy girls of ALL AGES. I couldn't help coveting half the stuff: the pony t-shirts, the boot socks with pony motifs, the beaded coin purses with pony faces on them, funky little wristwatches with pony logos on the dial, pony-sized grooming items... Are you getting the idea that I was a little miffed that when I was showing, most of the time I won incredibly useless things like brass keyfobs? Or shot glasses?

No horse show scene would be complete without the catering truck. In my mind it's a cruise ship of culinary calamity on wheels. Regardless of how cordial the people are who operate these things, or how clean they appear to be or how tempting their food tastes or smells, I. Just. Stay. Away. Everyone else on the show staff-- from ring crew to announcer-- made use of their Free Food allowance. I, on the other hand, did not. I always view a judging assignment as the perfect opportunity to fast for the day. Why? Sometime I'll write about my Near Brushes With Death Due to Consuming Horse Show Food. In the meantime, just allow your imagination to ponder that scenario, and I'll keep sipping on my bubbly fruit juice.


Jessica said...

Oooh! I love Izze’s!!! (although I often got accused of drinking beer when I brought them to work hehe). They were VERY instrumental in helping me quit drinking soda – especially as soda became much sweeter after becoming accustomed to Izze’s. Although – I couldn’t quit cold Turkey (kudos to you on that!) I still allow myself to have one on the weekends. :-D

Anonymous said...

O, ICE sparkling juice from Costco helped me quite drinking so much soda. Hilariously, i was at a horse show when i first tried one, and am hooked. My horse enjoys them to :)

Anonymous said...

I got my mares all dolled up to go to our show Saturday, and when we got there, it had been cancelled due to a. volunteers not showing up, and b. it was sooo HOT. Glad the weather was cooler for you guys! And the prizes for your show are much better than ours! I'm way jealous!
How's Wally?

Cindy Hale said...

Okay, now I'm starting to feel guilty for guzzling down not one but TWO Cokes today! My excuse? I was so hot and sticky after riding Wally and nothing would quench my thirst like a cold Coca-Cola over crushed ice. But I did drink nothing but "real" fruit juice for the rest of the day. So does that count?

I'm hoping that it won't be too ungodly hot on the 17th. That's the next show that I judge. And I hear that my judge's booth is not very shaded. Ugh.

Cindy Hale said...

Oh, and I should add a response to Jamie:

Wally is fine. He really is my buddy, although he's not very happy about his diet. I cut waaaay back on his beet pulp-based sweet feed and he thinks that was Just Not Fair.

Anonymous said...

i have my first Big show on saturday and i am just so excited!!!!but naturally also a little nervous about remembering my dressage tests :D

Anonymous said...

I'd love to read that article you promised about eating the free food...I'm sure many of us can relate to such an experience lol :D