Know which ring is the priority ring. Communicate with them.
Keep tabs on your schooling ring, if you can. If you get into a dead spot and have three or four trainers who were going to go 5-10 sets from now ask “Can I go warm up early?” but you have four people in the schooling ring who will be done in 10 minutes, then in 10 minutes, you’re going to have everybody at your door wanting to go now.
Tangentially, know your people. If you work the same area for awhile, you know that some trainers take longer than others. Some people will say “I will be ready in five minutes” and they’ll be at the gate ready to walk in in five minutes. Others will say “I will be ready in five minutes” and you will see them wander up 30 minutes later. (See also: adult amateurs. I say this with love, because I am one, but I’m a starter and an ammy and I have a clock in my head. Not everybody does, and not everybody is going to be emotionally ready to go in five minutes.) There are a couple of people whom I know I won’t see until two rotations after they checked in- I plan for that, write the name in the margin of my sheet, and just try not to put those folks in the last set.
Communicate with the schooling ring and the barn. I tend to give barn calls every 15 minutes, including a countdown to the next division/the hack/the jog. I call to the schooling ring every two or three trips, and at least once a rotation give a status report- “third set is three away, that’s Katie, Susie, and Bob; 15 trips to my fourth set, 27 trips to my fifth set, an hour and 15 minutes until we jog.”
If you have a set of four clocking along, just because Mr. Big Shot walks up to you and says “I want to go now” does not mean he gets to go in the ring now. You can make an exception for George Morris, but most people are not George Morris. When Mr. Big Shot who has nowhere else to be and who showed up light years away from the slot where he actually checked in pitches a fit, he is one person. When you piss off the four people actively rotating already, that is four people, and their riders, who are pissed off. You can graciously say that you can accommodate Mr./Ms. Big Shot in 10 minutes. Mind you, if Mr. Big Shot has an excellent reason to need to go now, such as that he needs to be in the priority ring in 5 minutes, that’s another story and you should work with him if you possibly can.
If you have to bump people down to accommodate another ring, and you will, communicate that to the schooling area and to the barn. Be extremely apologetic. Most people will understand. Just try not to bump down the same folks twice.
Communicate with the schooling break and the barn.
If you have a scheduled class going at another time in another ring- a final, a classic, a derby, some kind of event- and your ring is going to be running at the same time, make sure you know which trainers are involved in that class, and come hell or high water those trainers are your priority. Get them done first if the time will work out, plan to see them last, work them in if someone runs up and says “I can go in 10 minutes if you can fit me in before the second round down there!” Again, most people will understand if you have been making announcements all day saying “Here in Ring 3 we are trying to accommodate trainers who need to get over to the Derby for the 5:00 start time. Those involved in that class, I would like to see you first in my order here to ensure you have plenty of time to prepare. Please check in or send a representative.”
There are two groups of people that you cannot rush and should not try: the pre-children’s and the pre-adults. If they go in the ring a hair before they are ready, someone will fall off and cry. Accept this and be gracious about it. The pre-adults are my favorites to be around. No other group will come out of the ring, look me dead in the eye, and say “My horoscope told me I can’t come back for my second round, because I used up all my good karma at the oxer.”
Communicate with the schooling ring and the barn.
Drink coffee and smile a lot.