Monday, March 1, 2021

modern problems? modern solutions

Maryland has had so much precipitation this winter... It's honestly kinda unreal. It's not unusual to have one or two big snowstorms and a couple bitterly cold snaps. But... So far we've had something like 4-5 distinct snowstorms, plus a couple absolute rain deluges. 

jump ring still under snow....
Everything is sodden and waterlogged, with patches of snow still covering a lot of ground. Tho I guess I'm grateful that it's muddy bc it's relatively warm? Rather than frozen solid? Lol... Idk. 

bridle paths are a combination of snow and mud
There's not a lot of good riding ground, tho. Mostly just the indoor --- and the dressage court is pretty ok too since it gets good sun and has dark footing. 

or just... ugh, mud. everything is SO SOGGY
So things have been fairly quiet around here. Altho the coming week looks prettty niiiice weather-wise.... Maybe things will dry out?

i kinda love how the snow almost looks like an intentional ground line! still much much too wet to even think of jumping these guys at home any time soon tho
In the meantime, tho, we're getting excited about opportunities elsewhere. Like, at Loch Moy's epic wintertime cross derbies!! And in fact, I actually signed up to volunteer at the first of the season!!!

It was unfortunately postponed a couple times for weather reasons, and ended up finally happening in absolute downpour conditions. Jump judges could luckily stay inside our cars... but I honestly felt badly for the riders. Oh well, that's how it goes sometimes!

oooooh but i know the perfect place with acres upon acres of all weather footing!!
This wasn't my first time volunteering in the new #CovidEra, but interestingly things are still developing there. This year, Loch Moy (and presumably other venues?) is rolling out new technologies to accommodate "touchless" scoring and therefore reduce contact and interactions between individuals.

just jump judging things!
The organizers told us to download two apps in advance: CompeteEasy and Nominate Jumping. Apparently Australia events have been using these apps for years, and Loch Moy is looking to adopt the system for all unrecognized events moving forward. (I'm assuming for recognized the USEA will need to make that decision on how scoring works?)

all my various equine-related apps. the bottom two are new, with the "Jumping" app is the new contact-free scoring tool
Jump judges received orders of go, maps, and scrap paper for any notes.... But otherwise all scoring was done on our smartphones using the app. 

The organizers had us log on to the venue wifi and gave us the login credentials for the app. Then we selected the event and phase from a menu of choices. We were obviously using the "jumping" scoring mechanism for the derby, but I believe there's other options too -- and a timing function.  

the judging screen. note the circled "settings" icon, the magnifying lens "search" icon, and the "more" button. on the left side, i was judging fences 13 and 14; on the right side I was judging 15 thru 18B
All the riders and divisions were preloaded in the app. You could either type the rider number into the search bar and hit the magnifying button to load that rider and division --- or you could search for the rider number using the magnifying lens to open up all the divisions. 

various setting and search options
It was easy to select my assigned fences (I had a few for each division, since everything is so close together in derbies -- I had a whole little corner of the course). You can see in the above screen shot that each individual fence can be highlighted (red) and scored. Just tapping the "clear" button was enough to register that score. 

judging my jumps from the dry safety of my car
Common outcomes like "refusals" were also right there on the main screen, but using the "more" button had all the other potential outcomes too -- points for rails, missed flags, falls, etc, all the various penalties. None of my fences had a penalty all day, tho, so I never had to use anything other than, "Clear!"

out my driver's side window were my other jumps -- the little alleyway connecting arenas. intro thru modified jumped the ditch, tho intro and BN could option the log instead, while training and modified had the vertical set up a (very short) two strides out.
The app also had a section for notes per rider, and the camera / video icons that make it look like you could record and assign footage to each individual rider as needed (like maybe if you're judging a skinny and need the footage to determine if the horse passed within the flags?). I didn't use any of those functions tho.

this horse was sooooo fancy -- Esprit de Jaguar, remember him from the 2019 4yo champs??
Obviously we also all had radios and were calling in the riders' progressions around the course anyway, and scorers in the office confirmed all the penalties etc. There were a couple times throughout the day where they had to double check on something, or maybe a couple instances of the app not updating. But by and large, it seemed like everybody had a reasonable enough time using it. 

this mare is so cool too -- i've done clinics with them before
From a volunteer perspective, tho, these derbies are pretty low key and low stress anyway. You might remember from my having ridden in a couple that the days are organized so that there are roughly ~45min schooling breaks between each level. So all riders have an opportunity to get into the rings and jump around everything first before their times. 

Meant for a LOT of time just sitting around idling in my car, tho, haha! And actually, virtually all these pictures and gifs are from the schooling sessions -- not the actual timed rounds. 

omg the ponies were so so so SO cute tho!! even if everyone was a little sad about the rain
While at times it felt a little boring to just be sitting there waiting for the next division to start.... It was totally worth it. Not least bc Loch Moy is now offering a menu of choices for volunteer swag!! In past years I've always just received schooling passes (most of which expire unused). But apparently now you can choose to receive a gift certificate instead!

lol i thought somebody stole my horse at first
I guess there's a limit of 3 certificates per volunteer per year, presumably since they're so freakin valuable. Idk if the value of the certificate is tied to the amount of time spent at the event, but I was there for 6hrs and got a $60 certificate --- redeemable for all sorts of MDHT activities including starter trial entries omg. 

so so so much water, the retaining pond washed over the driveway out
So, uh, yea. Obviously that's a no-brainer haha! I love volunteering in general anyway -- but especially love volunteering at Loch Moy. These low key schooling events and derbies are so fun and such great opportunities for riders of all levels and backgrounds. I'm always happy to be out there supporting that -- and esp happy to also get what basically amounts to a 50% discount at our next starter trial lol. Yes plz!

C'mon, spring, we're ready for ya! I'm hoping it'll be Charlie's turn to get out and about sooon! Maybe he wants to go to a derby too?? Anybody going to the March derby???


  1. My fav venue here in TX does GC like that that can be used for schooling shows and I love it. They also have a point system where you can earn towards swag like hats/belts/shirts which is fun.

    1. that's awesome! i love that some of these venues dedicate so many resources to their volunteer program, and just wish there was more national level support for it haha

  2. I'm volunteering at an event in 2 weeks. I'm show jumping scribe one day and jump judge the second day. I THINK I may have worked it out to see the bigger divisions run each day. Last time I volunteered it was labor day weekend ad 114 degrees. I'm just hoping for no rain this time.

    1. ooooh that's so exciting! show jump scribe is actually something i haven't done before -- i'll be curious to hear how you like it! super exciting to hopefully be able to see some of the big guys go too. fingers crossed you get good weather and high-viz jump judge assignments!! (take pictures!!)

  3. I seriously love all of your Loch Moy posts. I wish we had something like this up here.

    1. they are such an amazing venue -- they're constantly updating and upgrading the facilities, and they offer soooo many low cost fun schooling opportunities for the grassroots riders all around area II.

  4. Ohh. That's some neat technology.

    1. agreed -- i was pretty impressed with its functionality!

  5. That is really cool that they've expanded your volunteer swag options. I think you'll get way more mileage out of gift certificates!

    1. seriously tho --- it almost feels like i'm stealing haha. tho, they would know better than i do what the value proposition is for offering that kind of reward for volunteers, i guess. either way, i'm pretty stoked!

  6. Those apps are such a great idea! Such a simple concept, makes you wonder why they've taken so long to catch on.

    1. i know, right??? like i guess they're kinda complicated to design for such a super niche set of users, in the grand scheme of things.... but honestly i'm pretty impressed! now the question is will this type of solution be adopted by our national governing agency which has an all-too-predictable addiction to paperwork LOL

  7. I love the app idea!! sorry it was such a rainy day for all the competitors though. So cool. I am a techno geek so of course i like the app stuff ;)

  8. It has been pretty wet here too - I'm looking forward to the drier days!


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