Common Volunteer Positions

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The announcer at a dressage show serves multiple functions. The announcer is the audio glue which holds the show together. The announcer is a central voice which many participants and spectators rely on to know what is coming up next at the show.


To the show audience the announcer says over the PA system:

What rider is in the ring, what horse they are riding and what test they are riding. (This is best done as the rider is warming up for their test.)

Example A:

Announcer would say: “ Riding Training Level Test Four is Linda Farmington, entry 56,

riding Dancers Tango.”

What rider is in next and who is next after the following rider (this is usually termed On deck – meaning next in line to ride, and In The Hole – meaning second in line)

Example B:

Announcer would say: “On deck is Entry 40 and In the Hole is Entry 11.”

Who sponsored the class if applicable (this can usually be found in the program)
Who the judge(s) and technical delegate(s) are (can be found in the program)
The scores and rankings in the prior classes (furnished by show management)
Who sponsored the show (this can be found in the front of the show program and in the ads in the program)

For show management the announcer says over the PA system:
Makes special requests (move car/truck)
Calls for specific requests (EMC, Farrier, TD, Show Manager)
The announcer communicates with the gate stewards over walkie/talkies:
The gate stewards tell the announcer who is going into the ring. At times the announcer will ask the gate steward who is in the ring
The gate stewards are the eyes for the announcer

In a multiple ring show the announcer must keep track of each ring, usually through the gate steward (the announcer cannot always see all show rings.) At the beginning of each shift for the gate steward, the announcer should let each gate person know how they would like to be informed of who is in the ring. The most efficient way is to request that the gate person inform the announcer when the rider goes into the ring only (not going out which causes too much cross talk on the walk-talkie at busy shows.)

Example C:

Gate person speaking “Terrace Arena gate, Rider 34 is entering.”

This message enables the announcer to understand who is warming up to start their test. At this point the announcer should introduce this rider over the PA system (as shown in the first example.

Special style rules for dressage show announcing

A Dressage show is a refined event, which takes an enormous amount of concentration on the part of both horse and rider, therefore it is suggested that the announcer try to not announce when a rider is riding a test. This is not always possible at all shows, but it is preferable when possible.

Speaking Style: Think smooth jazz radio station: quiet, calm and dignified. In keeping with the refined and dignified sport we call dressage the announcer should speak clearly, calmly and in a tone suitable for the most professional occasions.

How many times an announcer announces who the sponsors/advertisers and the show dignitaries is a judgment call. As a rule of thumb they should be announced once per hour. If the show is large and has many sponsors/advertisers the announcer should rotate the announcements throughout the day. It is a mistake not to acknowledge the sponsors/advertisers, as this is a large part of the reason they sponsored the event: for the advertising!

Announcers and Freestyle Classes

Sometimes the announcer must work with the rider to make sure their music starts on cue and the sound level is correct for their ride. It is the responsibility of show management to communicate this to the rider. It is the responsibility of the rider to make sure the announcer has their music (tape or DVD) and has tested the sound level before the ride. Depending on the facility the announcer needs to find out how much they have to do to help start and stop the music for the rider.

Half Time Shows and Demonstrations

At some shows there are special demonstrations. These are handled much the same as the Freestyle classes. The demonstration coordinators should get their music and copy to be read to the announcer with clear instructions as well as meet with the announcer to make sure all is understood.

Care of Facility Equipment

The announcer is given audio equipment at the beginning of the shift. This equipment should be returned to the person taking the next shift or the show/facility manager after use.




The gatekeeper is the person who makes sure the correct rider enters the competition arena at the correct time. They also may watch over the warm-up area and make sure the riders know the order of competition.


You will be given an updated show schedule (showing all ride times) and receive changes from the Show Office during the show. As the riders approach your ring, check them off your schedule (so you know they are there).

At any given time, there should be only one rider in the dressage ring, one waiting to go in (“on deck”), and one (“in the hole”).

At some shows you will have a walkie/talkie and will need to tell the announcer who’s going into the show ring next. Communication over the walkie/talkie should be kept to a minimum. Usually the Announcer simply wants to know who is entering the competition ring. (Ex. “Sand Arena, entry 34 has entered.”)

It’s NOT your responsibility to search for the next rider. .

After the rider in the show ring has finished their final salute, the next rider may warm-up around the perimeter of the ring.

If there is a break, do not allow the next horse to warm-up around the perimeter of the ring. To do so would constitute an unfair advantage to that rider.

Some shows allow riders in the show ring during the lunch break. If allowed, it will be announced and will have been in the rider’s letters before the show.

Some shows will have a gatekeeper at the warm-up arena and another one at the ring. A gatekeeper for a warm-up arena makes sure there are not more riders than can safely warm-up in the ring.

At some shows the rings gatekeeper will open and close the ring at A.

Gatekeepers should dress for weather conditions and provide their own insect repellent, sunscreen, sunglasses, etc.

Supplies needed (provided by show management)

Copy of the ride/time schedule

Time commitment required

Minimum of 2 hours

Skills needed

Ability to read bridle tags from a distance
Use tack when speaking to riders
Be supportive and courteous

Makes NO remarks about any horse or rider in the competition, including but not limited to, any background information about any horse or rider, their trainer, etc.

Ring Steward/ Paddock Steward/Saddlery Checker


The duties are to verify legal saddles, nosebands and bits are being used. As of 2008 USEF rules state that 1/3 of class needs to be checked.

The technical delegate will instruct you if they want more riders checked and provide some training if needed.


Approach a rider after they have finished their test and politely ask if it is alright to check their tack. Move rider and horse to a safe place to do this. Use common sense to make sure of safety of horse and rider and other competitors. Always wear disposable gloves to inspect the bit. While wearing the glove check the horses bit and bridle, then run your hand over the spur/ship area and verify that they’re no blood or welts. Use a new glove for each horse.

If horses bridle needs to be removed to check bit then call show management and/or TD so that someone can walk with them to their stall.

Supplies needed (provided by show management)

Disposable gloves
Chart and Description of legal equipment.

Time commitment required

Minimum of 2 hours

Attributes & Skills needed

Confident in touching strange horses mouths

Working knowledge of USEF legal dressage equipment

Attributes and Skills Needed

The dressage show announcer needs a strong clear speaking voice with good grammar. This position requires someone who is not timid about speaking in front of a crowd. The announcer must think on their feet, be flexible and resourceful. There is also a great deal of tact and diplomacy needed in this position as sensitive issues sometimes must be communicated over the PA speaker. The announcer helps to set a dignified and serene tone for the show therefore an understanding of voice inflection to create this ambiance is desired.

Time Commitment Required

  • The time commitment varies from show to show. The usual time commitment is a four hour shift at most smaller dressage shows. Because the announcer is part of the glue that holds the show together, continuity is important, therefore the shifts can be longer. If possible, it is optimal if the same announcer is at the show all day.




A runner’s main duty is to collect tests from the scribe and carry them to the scorers (usually in the show office) in a fast and unobtrusive manner. The runner should not look at these tests.


A runner may be instructed to stay at his/her assigned work area until relieved, and should have a chair available, set up the required 20 meters from the competition arena. He/she should wear clothing suitable for the weather and comfortable shoes.

When collecting tests from the scribe, the runner should walk quietly to the judge’s stand as the horse in the arena finishes the final salute and leaves the arena. The runner should not talk to either judge or scribe if they are still commenting on the preceding ride.

The scribe may ask for coffee, snacks, pencils, etc., to be brought back to the judge and scribe. Do this while waiting for rides to finish. Never interrupt judge or scribe while there is a test in progress.

Time commitment required
Minimum of 2 hours

Attributes & Skills needed

Able to walk quickly if needed and stand for periods of time.

Makes NO remarks about any horse or rider in the competition, including but not limited to, any background information about the horse or rider, their trainer, etc.

Golf Car Runners

Pick up tests from runner at designated locations. They need to be taken directly to scorers. Golf Cars should be driven very slowly and quietly past competition arenas. Great care should be taken to make sure that the Golf Cars do not cross the show grounds but stay on the sides of the show grounds if at all possible.

Supplies needed (provided by show management)

Driving chart
Golf car

Attributes & Skills needed

Must be 16 or older with a valid driver’s license



The Scribe is the person who writes the judges comments onto the test sheet. The Scribe must be able to sit quietly and concentrate for hours upon end listening and recording the judge’s comments accurately and consistently. They also help prepare the area for each test and give the completed test sheets to the arena runner.


The Scribe helps the judge prepare for each test
Ensure that proper equipment is at the judge’s stand.
Make sure that the following supplies needed are at hand

(See show management to get these supplies)
Copy of the ride/time schedule
Test sheets
Whistle or Bell for judge

Before the first ride, discuss with the judge how business will be conducted. Establish clearly whether comments for a movement will be given before or after the score so that comments will be entered in the proper place.

At the start of each class, be sure the judge knows what test is being performed. A spare copy of the test must be provided for the judge.

Check each rider’s number as soon as possible, confirming it with the test sheet cover. If the numbers do not match, find out who the rider is and locate the proper test sheet. Write the rider’s number in the number box on the inside of the test sheet.

Scribes Duties During the Riding of the Test:

Write the judge’s comments exactly as given. Do not rearrange or edit.

Establish whether the judge wants comments abbreviated or will not accept abbreviations. If judge allows such, use abbreviations as much as possible.

Do not talk to the judge during a ride. If you get lost, quietly ask what movement the next score will be for.

Scribes Duties After a Ride

After the ride, review what you have written.
Before giving a test to a runner, check these points:
Does the test include all required scores?
Are the errors clearly marked?
Has the judge signed the test sheet?

Time commitment required

Minimum of 4 hours, judges prefer to have the same scribe all day.

Attributes & Skills needed

Has clear, legible handwriting, even at top-speed
Limits conversation with the judge to a friendly greeting and small talk during breaks.

Makes NO remarks about any horse or rider in the competition, including but not limited to, any background information about the horse or rider, their trainer/coach, breeding, etc.

Maintains confidentiality. Never repeats the judge’s remark



The Scorer is the person who sits (usually in the show office) and adds up the scores directly from the tests using an adding machine.


Runners will bring the tests to you. (At some shows you are also the runner.)
Before scoring the test, you should:
Check test sheet to see that all movements and collective marks have a score.
Multiply scores with coefficients.
Look for errors which might be written as -2 in among comments.
Check that the judge has signed the test.
If there is a problem with the test, bring it to the show manager or secretary for clarification.

Using an adding machine with tape, determine the total points. Add scores for each movement and the collective marks. Subtract points marked as errors from the total.

To determine the percentage, divide the total number of scored points by the total points possible for the test being scored. The total number of points and percentage is printed on the front page of each test sheet. The total number of points varies, so check before dividing. Check with show management to see how many decimal points to carry out. 2008 carry to 3rd after decimal.

Most shows have two scorers so that you can double check each other. Once test has been double checked record the score on the master sheets. Now days most shows use computers to post scores, so not all shows will have a paper master sheet.

Arrange the scored tests for each class in sequence, highest percentage scores on top. When the class is complete, determine the placing and record them on the front of each test sheet. Once class is placed tests can be handed back to competitors. Each show is different so check with show management before giving tests back to anyone.

Record placing on a master sheet in the office, then post the placing.

Most shows use computers to post scores, so not all shows will have a paper master sheet. These shows will print off a completed class to be posted.

Guidelines for Scorers

Because accuracy is critical in this job, peaceful and quiet surroundings are necessary to eliminate distractions. The scoring area should be kept quiet with minimum discussion. The Scorer should not show or discuss a test with a parent, friend or trainer/coach nor show or return a test to a rider until after the class is placed and posted. Similarly, the Scorer should not repeat anything that is written on a test to anyone. The comments on the tests are confidential.

Supplies needed (provided by show management)

Copy of the ride/time schedule
Test sheets
Calculator or Ten-key and/or Computer

Time commitment required

Minimum of 2 hours

Attributes & Skills needed

Ability to use a calculator