The Art of Documentation: Sources

In part one, I wrote about what documentation is and how it helps your entry. Part two will be about sources.

Once you have your set up figured out, it’s time to write down what exactly is happening. In the previous post I talked about how there’s a difference between explaining and detailing. I’ll show how those change.

Anyways, the important piece to documentation is the source. It needs to be reliable and vetted.

A reliable source is one that provides a thorough, well-reasoned theory, argument, discussion, etc. based on strong evidence.

University of Georgia

With any source, you generally want more than a brief statement. This changes if you want to explain or detail. For detailing, you’re going beyond the basic idea behind a class. You want to know how it’s judged, tack used, and levels (where applicable). It can’t be a paragraph that says, “Show jumping is where a horse navigates a series of obstacles.” While true, it isn’t enough to make documentation from. Plus, since show jumping is a type of detailing class, you’ll need more than general information about what show jumping is. For show jumping, you’d go the next step and describe the horse’s level.

In explaining, you lay the groundwork of what is the general idea behind the class and then going further and highlighting a section of it.

Where do you find sources for horse events?

  • Books
  • National organizations
  • Horse magazines & blogs
  • Real life
  • Horse show pattern websites

Side note: Pinterest isn’t a reliable source. Google images isn’t a reliable source. They’re great starting points, but you have to click through to whatever they’re attached to.

The problem with Pinterest and Google Images is that captions can be incorrectly attributed. The links can send you literally anywhere. Random things pop up. You look up horse racing and you’re bound to see flying pigs. Don’t quote me on that, but weird things or sponsored links will show up.

I have a board on Pinterest about Native American regalia, but if I were to take the next step to create an entry, I would need to do so much more research. I’d need to research the group I was depicting, then go deeper into ceremonies.

I like to add the source of the image when I’m able to too. I try not to make documentation anymore if I can’t define where it’s from. There are two reasons for this. First, I like to give credit where it’s due. Second, if I misplace or lose the document on my computer, I can find the image again because of having the source printed on the piece of paper.



Horse books are an amazing source to find out about horse events. General horse books are a great place to use as a starting point, but they usually don’t go deep enough to make documentation from. Unless you’re depicting a time specific entry (eventing from the 1980s), you want to make sure your information is relevant. Internet sources by horse associations are updated as needed, but books are different. Here’s one of my favorite books. This is for games you can play on horseback. Depending on what I use from the book determines if I just cut out a page of the book versus making documentation from scratch.

National Organizations

National organizations are the most updated of these sources. National organizations would be USEF or The United Station Equestrian Federation. Another example would be the Extreme Cowboy Race Association. Anything with a governing body falls under this. Even your local horse showing association. Everything has its own rules so this is a great way to find exactly what you’re looking for. You can generally find all of their rules online.

Below is USEF’s list of various breed and discipline subgroups.

Horse Magazines and blogs

I don’t have a particular example of this, but online and in print horse magazines can give you ideas in terms of the articles they publish. Sometimes they’ll highlight a unique program or write about a specific event. Plaid horse and Black Reins post about various horse sports. Old hobby magazines can also be a good source.

If you’re going to use a blog, make sure the writer is an expert or knows what they’re talking about. Jennifer Buxton’s blog is the definition of a reliable source.

Model Horse magazine

Real Life

Real life is when you actively go to a show. Or trail ride. Or anything hands on. It counts as real life, even if you aren’t the one riding.

Appaloosa horse looking out of horse stall

Going to a rodeo and watching a relay team compete is an example of real life sources.

Bill Pickett rodeo

Horse show patterns

Horse patterns fall under detailing. Usually. Patterns get pulled out to detail a particular part of a discipline. For example, if I wanted to show in a showmanship class, I wouldn’t need to explain what showmanship is. Of course, if it’s something unique that technically falls under showmanship but comes from a different discipline or something along those lines, then of course it’d need to be explained. I’d look for a pattern that fits my model. For dressage, I’d find a pattern too.

You can find horse show patterns on numerous websites. USEF will have patterns. Patterns are good to have, but make sure you understand what is required at the various levels. Research is like an iceberg. The finished product will have a small sampling of everything you learned from reading.

Websites to find other patterns:

That’s what I have on sources. Use those critical thinking skills to discern if a source is reliable and trustworthy. Putting down documentation that isn’t truthful won’t get your models commandeered, but it will make sure you don’t place.

Next up will be how to put this together!

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