How to Be a Horse Show Scribe

How to Be a Horse Show Scribe

Five tips to get you started serving as a scribe or ring steward at a horse show.

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The American Quarter Horse Journal logo

By Andrea Caudill

While the judge is, obviously, the key position at a horse show, standing by each judge’s side is a ring steward or scribe.

First, let’s talk definitions: 

  • A scribe is the person who sits or stands beside the judge and writes down what the judge scores on each exhibitor on the score sheet. 
  • A ring steward, however, is someone who scribes and works more closely with show management, guiding exhibitors to proper positions in a halter class or walking around the set-up in a showmanship class. Ring stewards have control over the arena and the safety of exhibitors inside it.

Scribes and/or ring stewards are needed at every show. If scribing or ring stewarding is in your future, we’ve got some tips from AQHA Director of Judges Patti Carter before you undertake this task for the first time:

1. Be prepared.

Your homework as a ring steward starts before the show. Read the AQHA Rulebook for full details, starting with SHW131.

You need to be wearing the proper attire – pants, long sleeve shirt with collar and cowboy boots. A western hat is optional.

Also make sure to be familiar with class procedures for each class at the show.

You will need pencils (that write darkly), pens, a clipboard, rulebook, snacks, mints, water and maybe a seat pad to sit on.

judges and ring stewards monitor a western riding class

Be prepared for all elements, especially if you are to be a scribe or ring steward in an outdoor arena. (Credit: Journal)

2. Arrive early.

On show day, arrive early. Familiarize yourself with show management and staff, the show layout, and any other questions that might come up.

Introduce yourself to the judge and find out how he or she likes to work. Consider yourself the judge’s personal assistant for the show.

Different judges have different personalities and ways they approach scoring. Find out how your judge wants to report scores to you.

3. Attitude is everything.

As a scribe or ring steward, you need to be a team player, and you need to be respectful of the people you’re working with and for. You have to be helpful and be able to assist show management or judge with anything that comes up. Have a good, positive attitude, and be flexible.

4. Be quiet.

Once the show begins, your job is to write down everything the judge says, not offer your opinions, and let the judge concentrate on his or her job. That said, don’t be afraid to clarify a score to make sure you’ve got it right.

You will learn a lot sitting with a judge, but be prepared to not watch the class, as most of the time you’ll be looking at your score card.

5. Ace your math.

You don’t have to be a mathematician, but be prepared to add and subtract numbers and half points quickly and accurately. If you’re familiar with the score sheets, the rules and the penalties for the classes you’re scribing, your job will be easier. Be prepared to add and subtract multiple ways to verify your numbers. If your numbers are constantly wrong, you probably won’t be asked back.

Make sure the judge signs his card before it goes to the show office.

Getting Started as an AQHA Show Scribe

If you have discovered that you really enjoy the rewarding position of being a ring steward, AQHA can help you get better and advance to maybe serving as a world show ring steward.

American Quarter Horse University is an online service hosted by AQHA, and one of the many classes it offers is extensive ring steward education. It includes webinars and training materials available to anyone.

This subscription service also offers a private education course for all AQHA members looking to hone their skills. American Quarter Horse University offers horsemen an opportunity to expand their skills with courses anytime, anywhere, with a computer tablet or smartphone. Courses can be taken at the student’s time and pace, and offer a proven, interactive content learning experience.

Visit to find out more.