Show Secretaries Are Human, Too!

Learn about the other side of the horse showing world.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Editor's Note: This story originally ran in the June 1988 issue of The American Quarter Horse Journal. Of course, during the past 24 years, the onslaught of new, computerized technology has radically changed how show secretaries perform their jobs. In this story, Faye Faullin describes using a complex card-filing system for keeping track of exhibitors and typing up show reports on a typewriter. The show secretaries of today keep their filing systems online or on multiple hard drives, and print show reports directly from their laptops with a click of the mouse. But while methods differ from decade to decade, the ultimate goal of the show secretary remains the same: to maintain order in the show office, to ensure that everyone follows the rules and to keep meticulous records so that every point, placing and award goes to the right people and horses at the right time. So, exhibitors, next time you’re in the show office, remember to smile at one of the hardest-working people at the show: the show secretary.

“Whadaya mean I can’t show without my amateur card?”

“Are you the one that hired this judge?”

“I know I don’t have my horse’s papers with me, but you can call AQHA tomorrow and let me show today?”

Would you want to listen to that day in and day out? Probably not. But there are people all across America who spend hours of their own time working as show secretaries. Professional show secretary Faye Faullin of Hope Hull, Alabama, is one of them. For too many years to count, Faye has taken care of the registration, the records and the complaints. And believe it or not, she enjoys it.

“I like to go and meet different people,” said the silver-haired Faye. “Horse show people, as a whole, are good people. I’d rather do this than work in town from 8 to 5.”

Show secretaries, especially if they are new to the job, are often overwhelmed by the task. Not only do they have to handle a great many people, but they have to do it diplomatically with the rules of an Association to remember.

“My job is to go to the shows, take entries, see that everything is in order as far as the paperwork is concerned, see that they get in the right classes and fill out the result forms for AQHA. Tons of paperwork. I do shows two different ways. I have people that call me up and want me to take care of everything. I hire the judges, do all the paperwork and all the secretarial work. Then I have shows where I just go and take care of the job right there and don’t have to worry about managerial things.”

But what kind of person does it take to be a show secretary – especially if that show runs all week long? Nerves tend to get frazzled, and tempers get on edge. But anyone is capable of being a show secretary if he or she has the personality and temperament to handle it.

“You have to be able to contend with people and stand up for what you think is right, and to follow the rules and regulations of whatever organization you’re working for.”

Faye will usually start to work on a particular show from 90 to 120 days before the show starts, if she has to hire the judges and fill out the necessary approval forms that must be sent back to AQHA. After the show ends, she is still on the job, finishing paperwork.

Obviously, this job requires a great deal of organization and work. But the ideas and work practices that Faye puts to use in her operation smooth out what could be some very rough ridin’.

When Faye arrives the first day of the show, usually around 7 a.m., she opens shop and starts taking entries. In order to keep everything organized, she has designed a color-coded card system that helps to expedite entries and placing orders. There are four categories: halter and performance, for those horses being shown in open classes, and then amateur and youth.

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Each category has its own color, and Faye files them accordingly. These cards also help when it comes time to collect the entry fees. With each category comes a different entry fee – for youth, open and amateur.

Once the show is under way, Faye and the announcer work with each other in retrieving placings from the ring steward. Halter has proven to be the class with its own special problems that call for its own special treatment. Because the horses that win and place second in the class have to come back to be judged as grand and reserve for their sex, Faye always has the ring steward put the date the horse was foaled, plus the exhibitor number, on the placings list so there are not any mistakes or mixups.

After the show is over and everyone has pulled out, Faye loads her car up with the paperwork that has to be finished and goes home, only to continue working on that show, while at the same time, preparing for another.

She has 10 days to get the results of the show back to AQHA, and part of that work started at the show. As each class was completed and results were checked and rechecked, Faye completed a form for that particular class and the top eight placings. If there are 60 classes, she puts a form in the typewriter 60 times.

“In every class, I have to report the horse’s name, registration number, the year foaled, the exhibitor and the owner and his address. I can do show results in an average day if I have nothing else to do.”

Now that she’s at home, she rechecks the results and the information on the forms to make sure there are no mistakes. And if there are any questions as to the placing of a horse, she has to call the appropriate person (usually the show manager or the ring steward) and finds out what is correct. After she is sure of her information, she packs the whole thing off to AQHA.

One would think that with all the years of experience Faye has as a show secretary, that she would know the rules like the back of her hand. But she also makes sure to read new rule changes after each year’s AQHA convention so that as the new show season starts, she can act accordingly.

“A person can take the rulebook and read it if it applies to them, but if you don’t sit down and read it, you really don’t know it. And there are some rules in there that I don’t think are very clear, or that don’t answer some of the questions I have or someone may have asked me. Of course, I want to find out the right way to do it. If you want to know the answer to the question, you’re going to have to call AQHA to find out. I think you’ve got to do this if you’re going to do a good job.”