The Art of Documentation: What Is It And What Does It Do?

I was talking with friends about showing and we eventually found ourselves talking about documentation. We spoke about some of the unspoken rules of documentation and how you’re expected to have the perfect amount of information. Too much, and you’re writing a book report. Too little, and it seems like you haven’t put in the research. But how does a new shower, particularly in performance, know these rules? It took many shows and reading others’ documentation that eventually led me to know what should or shouldn’t be a part of documentation. But one shouldn’t have to fumble for a long time or need to run into the right person to know what to have for documentation.

So this is a guide to how I make performance documentation. Since there isn’t a definitive rule book for model horses, use what I wrote as you see fit. But this is how I do documentation now and it’s a huge difference from some of the stuff I once used.

Before getting into the details, let’s talk about what performance documentation is. Performance is a snapshot of a real horse action. A real horse action could be a bucking bronc or pushing to fantasy with going on a trail ride and running into a hoard of zombies. Anything you can think of can be brought to performance. Documentation is to set the scene of what’s occurring and offer you provenance for what you’re depicting. Tack fit, suitability, and the overall picture are still important. But explaining what is going on finishes.

Zombies? Zombies.

So let’s break performance documentation into two categories: defining and explaining.

Defining is for established events that are common knowledge. When making documention for these events, you’re highlighting and hyperfocusing on a singular aspect instead of having to explain what exactly it is from scratch. I know that common knowledge isn’t common, but generally these are the events that one would expect a judge to know about. At model horse shows, these events often have their own separate classes. Examples would be: dressage, hunter/jumper, english pleasure, and western pleasure. In defining, you give a more specific example of what you’re doing. For example, instead of defining what show jumping is, you’d document the requirements for USEF’s level one jumping and the location on a course.

Explaining means you’re highlighting events that don’t get a devoted class. Examples of this would be: horse ball, cowboy polo, and scurry driving. Explaining means giving a broad overview of the event you’re depicting and then explaining which part your model falls into. If I were making a setup for Pato, or juego del pato, I’d include a broad overview before getting specific about my horse and rider making a goal.

If you’re new and still figuring performance out, make documentation for all of your entries. Except for western and english pleasure.

I think this is a good stopping point for part one of documentation making.

In conclusion, performance documentation does two things: it explains what your model is doing and gives legitimacy to what you’re creating.

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