Thursday, October 29, 2009

Taking the top call .......

So you enter the ring for your flat class. Let's say it's a pleasure class for judging sake.
You're now being judged at the walk. You take note that there are some really nice looking horses in this 'pleasure' class. Although your horse is obedient, he may not be the best mover. Most of the time, you place but maybe not so high as you'd like. 
Trot please, all trot (or jog if your in western pleasure). Don't rush into it. Good. Nice departure. Here and there you take note of some of the other horses in the ring.
Canter, All Canter (or Lope if you're in western) Okay, gather yourself and make sure you're ready. Apply leg and yes! I got the lead!! You got all the transitions and even your diagonols and leads. Wow, you have a real shot at winning this class! What a great feeling! You take note that out of the corner of your eye, you saw a few wrong lead departures so your chances are really getting better.
Fast forward to line up and pinning. You're waiting in line for the announcer to call you for the blue. But wait!......Are you kidding me? What is this judge looking at! The horse I was right behind busted his lead in one direction. His pace set mine very well and he was a helluva mover but come on......he busted a lead for at least 2 or 3 strides before changing. This judge is blind and I may as well go home now!!
Have you been in this class? Unfortunately, from the back of your horse in a class, you cannot see everything that happens with the other horses.
The horse that picked up the wrong lead for 2 or 3 strides and then swapped, either flying or simple change, was a very nice mover. He definitely had the whole package. Quality gaits with transitions that showed excellent control. His expression showed calmness and his overall conformation was suitable for his job..
Your horse was good. Just because he falls out of gait for transitions, doesn't mean he's the worst. Of course not. Maybe your horse is not the best built horse around but he held a great pace and you did everything right!
Something to consider is that the horse you thought 'wow, he blew his lead so that's one less I have to beat' may just possess more ability that shows through.
In this scenario, the better horse has to get the blue. If a lead is blown and corrected within 2 or 3 strides, I make note of it for tie breaking purposes but that is not to say I have weighted that fault heavily for a better overall horse. I know that's hard for some people. Wrong lead through the whole direction, I would definitely have to discount much greater and they would forfeit the win. But you always have to reward the better horse. The most you can do is your best. Some judges would weight that blown lead more heavily, not taking in account the quick correction.
You may not always always agree with a judges' opinion. Our job as a judge is to reward the best horse in that class on that day.


  1. Nope. (And if you've been to my blog, you know I say it straight up lol) ;)

    I enjoy the posts. It is really interesting to me to get an "inside perspective", since I have not shown since 2001.

    One thing that always stood out in my mind, and you say it in your closing lines: You are paying for someone's OPINION of your horse, on THAT day. Nothing says their opinion is not allowed to differ from yours.

    I was lucky as a child, and most of the judges we showed under would take a bit of time at the end of the day and help the teens who asked, improve their performance. Being able to read your thoughts here is kind of like that- and something I enjoy understanding more about.

  2. Your posts are great. Since I want to start showing for the first time next year reading your blog is a great resource for preparing myself. So the more info the better.

  3. Your posts definitely aren't too long.

    And, for the record, I've been on the "winning" side of that situation. Took my horse to a local schooling show, green horse w/t/c class. He'd never been to a show and I haven't really done a lot of work cantering him in the ring (just got him in august. The class was really just a, "he's handling this show thing really well, let's see how he does. If he doesn't canter, no big deal, it's not a big class" sort of thing). Anyway, we did canter both directions but I know it couldn't have been a pretty transition and we missed the correct lead going one way. I was pretty sure that meant we'd gotten last (class of 4) and was totally expecting it.

    Imagine my surprise when they call us for second place! I seriously thought somebody must've made a mistake.

    Honestly don't know what the judge saw (or didn't see) in the other horses, I was too focused on my boy to see.

    Anyway, my point is, it's interesting to me to see a judge's perspective, especially in cases like this where I'm left going, "how did I manage to get that?". :)

  4. Nice blog! Glad I found it!

  5. Not too long at all! I love your blog! It gives great advice!


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.