Friday, September 25, 2009

I'm Dizzy, Where's My Box of Wine?

 I had to let this one out!! I went to judge a small open hunter show which was a fundraising event for a 4-H club. The kids of the club were left to run the entire show. I was told it was to give them experience and it was their club's money to use towards going to their district show next year. Well, that's all well and good but really kids cannot learn things unless they are taught. No adults stepped in during the many flusters and clusters of the day but I was all too busy on the walkie talkie. I even passed out ribbons at one point. I don't mind helping out but you cannot expect your judge to take on extra duties at your show.

So anyway, the beginner classes were all morning and then I noticed this course was posted for the crossrails and up to 2'6" hunter division. You were supposed to ride this same course for both rounds over fences and then ride the course again for the equitation rounds. HUH???? They said that was so people could improve each round because they already knew the course. HUH???? This wasn't a course. The jumps were nothing but post and rail so a 2'6" fence looked like 4' and even the crossrails looked lonely and unattractive. Please, some branches off a tree, some fake flowers stuck in them and poof, you have fill! Buy a few pickets and 2x4 and make some wings for your jumps.Trim your shrubbery at home and bring the clippings to the show if you have no other fill. I mean really? Really!!

There is no change of direction in this course to start with and I would think a horse would get dizzy!! Then there's the "jump it twice in each round" fence. What happens when someone knocks a rail on fence 3 and then has to come back to it (from a horrifically sharp angle) to jump fence 6 and there is no rail? There were plenty of those rounds and they told me that if it wasn't reset before the rider came back around again, just score it as if it were a ground pole. Well, that isn't quite fair to those that had come off that sharp angle and it was reset so they had to jump it again.

The classes were only $7 and I had given them a 50% discount because they were 4H. Those associated with the club thought it was great.....why? No flying changes? HUH????? I tried to refuse the course and was going to reset a few angles on the inside and then give it at least a decent chance but the one time the adults stepped in was when the club kids got grouchy about my idea. Okay, I let it go but if anyone was having unsafe rounds due to the course, I was changing it!  Unsafe, due to ponies and horse not ready to even trot poles on the ground, which they left alot of, was not of my concern.

 I'm booked for one more of their shows in a few months.....I may either send them my courses with some fill in ideas or find an excuse to cancel and refer them to someone trying to build some hours for their judging resume. Here's the course in question.......I wouldn't have ridden it and I can tell you watching every entry ride it three times, really tried my patience. I think I was just so damn dizzy, after the 32nd round, I couldn't see straight anyhow!

I think if you click on the course, it'll come up in all it's hideous glory. And yes, the ring was narrow and oval. I bet it wasn't 125 feet across and maybe 200 feet long......HUH????? The outside lines had no rhyme or reason as for distance so some got lucky with it and most didn't. Now, you be the judge........where's my box of wine!!!


  1. Thank you for stopping by my blog! I feel your pain on that course.... wow! My sister and I run the jumper shows at our local riding club and have learnt a lot about setting courses over the summer. We have lucked out and had our trainers help, and each show has been a success. Unfortunately, we aren't able to change the course up a whole lot throughout the day. ANy suggestions on some courses that can be jumped a multitude of ways? Hopefully the 4h club you judged for will take your advice and assistance at the next show!

  2. Hmmm. I can see why you are frustrated!!! How was the box o' wine by the way? Maybe next time, if I may suggest, just drink it PRIOR to judging for this insanity. LOL! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  3. I'd have gotten dizzy riding that one myself. Whew! I don't blame you for being frustrated. I hope they take your suggestions for next time. These kids aren't 'learning' anything this way, I think it's time an adult stepped in before someone gets hurt. Good luck.

  4. yikes! an end jump in a x-rail class? twice? i've ridden advanced jumper courses that weren't as technical (or ridiculous) as that 3,4,5,6 death spiral in the middle of the arena. and no change of direction? that's not a course, it's a circle with speed bumps :-\

  5. Wow- I have not jumped anything since I was a teen (and crazy) but a BOX of wine? Girl, you needed a fridgefull after that day.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. You also inspired another Jack memory.. of a county fair, my sturdy Appy, and a tie for Reserve Champion that day. I'll have to write about our ride off... Makes me smile to this day. The best part? That judge (who was always one of my favorites,) was a member of a riding club I joined in my late 20's, early 30's. He remembered my Appy all those years later! I had a picture of that particular fair, and brought it in to a club meeting at one point-- and everyone got a kick out of it. Thank you for helping bring that memory back as well!


I am just one judge with one judge's opinion. Almost all of the classes I judge are based on the rules of USEF & AQHA. Judging a horse show is very subjective to the interpretation of the rules. Please keep this in mind when commenting.