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  1. #1
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    Default In support of Hunter Breeding

    It seems like there have been a lot of posts lately about what’s wrong with Hunter Breeding and I really want to start a dialogue with a different perspective.

    Compared to many of the “old guard” I am relatively new to this sport. I’ve been breeding since 2000, and entered my first horse at Devon in 2001. That said, I’d like to share some of my experiences and perceptions in hopes that others will have some positive and/or constructive things to add.

    I have found the sport to be very open and inviting. At first I was overwhelmed and confused by almost everything. At every turn I found people open to sharing their knowledge and ideas.

    Over the last few years I have shown horses that were prepped for months (or years) by pros, and I’ve shown some of them straight off pasture board. And I’ve won and lost with both. I’ve had as many horses win when handled by “lesser names” as I have with the “big names.” And I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned just sitting in the stands with both friends and strangers willing to talk about the horses and happenings in front of me in the ring.

    Has every class pinned the way the bystanders expected? Nope. Have there been placings that caused a LOT of discussion? Yup. And I’ve learned that there is often a very simple explanation. As bystanders, we don’t see what the judge does. And that’s both good and bad. The judge can see splints and overbites we don’t see from the rail. The judge may have a bias for or against a particular conformation or movement, and rates the horses more heavily toward that. Is that “wrong?” Nope. It’s a subjective sport. Judges have their bias. That’s not politics – that’s the variety in opinion that makes the sport work. If it were a purely objective judging system, we could run the babies through some set of tests and the judges would only be there to enforce the rules. But then, much like hunters are not jumpers, it would be some other sport!!!

    Are there “politics?” I’m sure there are. Both in the nefarious sense of buddies and business dealings, and also in that judges see the horses more than 1 show per year. I think human nature plays into given more “slack” to a horse that trots poorly one day, but the judge has seen with a spectacular trot on another day. It may be easier to attribute placing I don't agree with to "politics," but where does that get me? It's a lot more useful to try to learn something, and to show again the next weekend.

    Can we improve Hunter Breeding? I’m sure we can. And I hope we do. Enjoying the sport doesn’t mean I think it’s perfect.

    I’d love to see some sort of score card. Whether it is a numeric system like the dressage in-hand scores, or just notes from the judges, I think it would be a great benefit to the owners and handlers to know some of the thinking that goes into a judge’s placings.

    I am also a big fan of the idea of eliminating the national awards for HB. There are too many differences in the number of shows and the number of competitors in those shows for it to be fair to compete “cross zone” The system should reward quality horses, placing consistently, more than it rewards dragging babies cross-country. There are a few shows that are “their own reward” (Devon, Upperville, Warrenton). I guess it might help to make a small number of these shows count for all zones. There should be EQUAL pride in the placings horses get within their own zones. Competing nationally could simply be the results of the Sallie Wheeler National Championships (although I think adding another show or 2 around the country would make that more fair to everyone!)

    I know I don’t often post, and am probably rambling…. It’s just so frustrating to see thread after thread insinuating that the judging is unfair and that competitors are dropping out because of “politics” or an “old boy” system. Worse, I think the negative dialogue discourages new people from participating.

    Breeding and raising babies is hard. The economic and emotional stress is unbelievable. Most people want to buy “made” horses, ready to show in the hunters, without any understanding of how they got there. HB is a great way to get those babies “out and about” and get people interested in them at a slightly younger age. Which helps us breeders keep making the babies that can be purchased as hunters later.

    For the “home breeder,” HB is a way to get their babies off the farm and see a little bit of the world while they are still at an impressionable age. And a way to get their horses together with others of the same age, to help boost the social and professional networks that are so necessary when we need assistance.

    I’ve been rewarded many times over by my experiences in this sport. And I know many people who feel the same way. I guess it’s easier to focus on negatives than positives.

    As we launch into the 2008 season, does anyone else want to share positive experiences or constructive ideas?
    www.symranch.com
    TB Sporthorse Sales and Breeding



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep. 19, 2002
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    recent FL transplant from IL
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    Default

    I had a really fun time showing my horse in HB. It was nice to meet new people, learn lots of new things & give my horse some show experience.
    "I'm not crazy...my mother had me tested"



  3. #3

    Thumbs up

    I posted this on the other thread but I think it got lost..... This thread is better for my opinion....

    I am planning to make my first appearance in an amateur handler class this weekend and I am very excited. I have found most of the professional handlers to be very nice and supportive.

    Last year was my first experience with hunter breeding (we sent our young horse to a professional) and I enjoyed it very much. We are continuing this season and are happy to be doing it again!!!

    Every discipline can use some help and guidance to get better. We all need to work hard to promote our sport and be involved at every level to provide input from different perspectives. I think that "politics" will always exist but sometimes I think that when some Handlers seem to be favored we forget that they have been doing it for many, many years and experience does sometimes make a difference, granted there are times that I feel that a handler is unjustly favored but I believe that it all evens out in the end.

    The chronicle is a great way to bring ideas to the table and have good discussions about where the sport should be going from people from all different backgrounds lets look more at the positives.....



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar. 28, 2001
    Location
    Aiken, SC
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    2,689

    Default

    Symranch

    Thanks for bringing up one of the problems with HB.
    ". I think human nature plays into given more “slack” to a horse that trots poorly one day, but the judge has seen with a spectacular trot on another day."

    The judge is supposed to be evaluating what's in front of him/her. Not what they saw a month ago. Allowing 'slack' certainly prompts a lot of questions about the results and aids the perception that something isn't quite right.

    I agree, there is too much dragging bablies around.
    But don't you think your suggestion will either encourage more of it or put the west coasters, far south,NE at a severe disadvantage?

    "There are a few shows that are “their own reward” (Devon, Upperville, Warrenton). I guess it might help to make a small number of these shows count for all zones. "



  5. #5

    Default

    Peggy, I agree with just about everything you have said. It would sure be nice to see you more than once a year at Devon and have your support ringside throughout the entire HB show season. As a breeder and exhibitor you would be slightly more qualified to share your knowledge of HB shows if you did not attend them vicariously through your trainer. I realize you live in Texas, but so much gets missed not actually being there in person... you need to schedule more trips.

    Politics aside, Hunter Breeding is amazing and rewarding. I have been blessed with some amazing horses to own and exhibit. Initially, I made some hasty and compulsive purchases and paid the price. You win some you loose some.

    The North American Breeders are an amazing group. I can't wait to start showing my horses later this month. I would also like to see some changes occur to make HB more attractive to more of the Horse Show crowd. I try to spread the word and meet new people any chance I get. It can only get better.

    Numerical scoring would be fantastic... but I think year end awards are a pinnacle for some and serve their purpose. I know I get goose bumps watching my kids!



    HB is all that... and try it... you'll like it.
    Last edited by SilverBalls; Apr. 7, 2008 at 03:06 PM. Reason: spelling
    ~ Bill Rube ~
    http://www.bydesignfarm.com
    Check us out on Facebook



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb. 21, 2008
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    403

    Default

    I TOTALLY agree that the "big ones", i.e., Devon, etc., should be counted for Zone points, with a bonus.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul. 10, 2002
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    TX/NY/PA
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverBalls View Post
    As a breeder and exhibitor you would be slightly more qualified to share your knowledge of HB shows if you did not attend them vicariously through your trainer. I realize you live in Texas, but so much gets missed not actually being there in person... you need to schedule more trips.
    Seriously? LOL.

    I think I've attended more than a few HB shows over the years, along with breeding many Zone and Devon winners, and my knowledge is far more than vicarious. It's offensive for you to attempt to dictate who is "qualified" to discuss these topics based on who you personally run into at horse shows.
    www.symranch.com
    TB Sporthorse Sales and Breeding



  8. #8
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    TX/NY/PA
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by PineTreeFarm View Post

    I agree, there is too much dragging bablies around.
    But don't you think your suggestion will either encourage more of it or put the west coasters, far south,NE at a severe disadvantage?

    "There are a few shows that are “their own reward” (Devon, Upperville, Warrenton). I guess it might help to make a small number of these shows count for all zones. "
    You are absolutely right. Similar "big shows" should be added on other coasts to make it fair. If that can't be done, then maybe they just need to be their own reward.

    I just know that the national point system is hard both on owners and on horses. And, having been Rsv Ch nationally a couple times, I really don't know that it means that much. I'm far prouder of Zone Champions I've owned and bred.
    www.symranch.com
    TB Sporthorse Sales and Breeding



  9. #9
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Giddy-up View Post
    I had a really fun time showing my horse in HB. It was nice to meet new people, learn lots of new things & give my horse some show experience.
    If you were talking to someone who was thinking about showing in HB, what are a couple things you learned that you think would help them out as "first-timers?"
    www.symranch.com
    TB Sporthorse Sales and Breeding



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul. 14, 2004
    Location
    Virginia. We Do Ponies!
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    11,962

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by PineTreeFarm
    "There are a few shows that are “their own reward” (Devon, Upperville, Warrenton). I guess it might help to make a small number of these shows count for all zones. "
    You may or may not remember that I submitted a rule change proposal to allow Devon and Upperville points to count in every zone.

    It was shot down............
    Randee Beckman ~Otteridge Farm, LLC (http://on.fb.me/1iJEqvR)~ Marketing Manager - The Clothes Horse & Jennifer Oliver, Equine Insurance Specialist



  11. #11

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SymRanch View Post
    Seriously? LOL.

    I think I've attended more than a few HB shows over the years, along with breeding many Zone and Devon winners, and my knowledge is far more than vicarious. It's offensive for you to attempt to dictate who is "qualified" to discuss these topics based on who you personally run into at horse shows.
    Sorry if I came across as "dictating"...it was not my intent. It's just that I got the impression your comments came from first hand experiences. It's much better to relate to things if you are actually there. Sorry for your confusion as well as mine...

    Whatever your knowledge is and how you obtained it is not my concern. I was quite taken back however at your suggestion to do away with year end awards when except for last year 2007... your horses rarely missed a weekend in the prior years and captured many year end titles.

    My point being... get in this to get what you want out of it, and you can have so much fun doing it. There are tailgate parties and lots of laughs too! Of course it's better if you win.
    Last edited by SilverBalls; Apr. 7, 2008 at 04:15 PM. Reason: spelling
    ~ Bill Rube ~
    http://www.bydesignfarm.com
    Check us out on Facebook



  12. #12
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    Jul. 10, 2002
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    TX/NY/PA
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverBalls View Post
    I was quite taken back however at your suggestion to do away with year end awards
    I am not advocating eliminating year end awards. I'm talking about getting rid of the system that ranks horses based on NATIONAL points, and focusing on the system that places horses within their own zone. With every zone champion being recognized, and percieved to have earned an equal accomplishment.

    I really don't know how one might or might not factor the "name" shows, or how one would handle Candian competitors. I just know that I've been advocating this change for quite some time and I think the confusion in the placings at the end of last year helped solidify my feelings about it.
    www.symranch.com
    TB Sporthorse Sales and Breeding



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep. 19, 2002
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    recent FL transplant from IL
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SymRanch View Post
    If you were talking to someone who was thinking about showing in HB, what are a couple things you learned that you think would help them out as "first-timers?"
    It helps to go spectate at least once before actually bringing in a baby & trying it yourself. Watch, look around, observe how things are done, really look at how the horses are presented, watch the handlers "show". I find people want to just show up not really educated on how things work, but then get all mad they don't get good ribbons cause they aren't really doing it "right". And if you see somebody who's doing it right--politely approach them & talk with them. Most people are more than happy to chat about their horses & showing & answer questions.

    You do have to remember anytime there is judging there is going to be politics. Some judges are just like that. So you either don't show that weekend or grin & bear it. Other judges are completly fair & don't care who's holding the horse if it's a good horse that is being presented at it's best (which those pro handlers can do). You have to be able to honestly assess your horse's strengths & weaknesses and figure out how to show them best.

    Some people are quick to dimiss HB as merely a pretty pony class. Which it sort of is--you don't see an fuglies winning. Are the classes a 100% prediction of who is going to be winning 5 years from now? Nope & I don't expect them to be. But I felt the experience helped my horse & it was something I personally enjoyed doing while waiting for my baby to grow up.
    "I'm not crazy...my mother had me tested"



  14. #14
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    Jul. 14, 2004
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    Virginia. We Do Ponies!
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    Default

    Absolutely be there in person. Over and over. This helps in numerous ways, from breeding to handling to turn out to understanding the system, and on and on.

    If you haven't been there in person and watched over and over, you really will have a hard time digesting the whole thing.

    It's a type of "on the job training" so to speak.
    Randee Beckman ~Otteridge Farm, LLC (http://on.fb.me/1iJEqvR)~ Marketing Manager - The Clothes Horse & Jennifer Oliver, Equine Insurance Specialist



  15. #15
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    Default

    So we have a number of posters who have highlighted the importance of going to shows, and learning by watching.

    I think those are good things to promote, but what if that isn't possible? What about the zones where they don't have many shows, and the ones that people attend are far away?

    While nothing substitutes for being there in person, what else could newcomers to learn from? I've never seen any good books or videos on the subect... are there any that people would recommend? I know there are clinics on occasion, how/where are those usually promoted? Does anyone know of any coming up?

    We need new people to bring their horses out, but we need them to know what to expect so that they don't buy into the idea that all classes are pre-judged or that judging is always political.

    Even showing a horse that places at the back of the line can be a good experience, if you know to expect it! Sometime with the youngsters the "wins" are more personal. "stood still for judge" and "trotted without losing his mind" can be every bit as important as a blue ribbon.
    www.symranch.com
    TB Sporthorse Sales and Breeding



  16. #16

    Default

    HB is a program of attraction so to speak... there isn't a book, video, hearsay, or assumption to replace being there in person. You can't help but get caught up in all the pomp & ceremony... not to mention the emotion when you are right there front & center.

    It's not all peaches and cream, and some things have to change. New faces in both competitors and officials are key! We also can't ignore the issues that can deter people from HB. Politics and "pre-judging" as you put it Symranch, will continue if we as competitors allow it to. To get involved means to get involved with both the good and the bad.

    I agree with Giddy Up & Virginia Bred... and how can you describe the pride you see on so many faces... in the end quality will endure...
    ~ Bill Rube ~
    http://www.bydesignfarm.com
    Check us out on Facebook



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec. 14, 2007
    Location
    Wilsonville, Ontario, CANADA
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    Default

    Hi Peggy - I am SO glad that you started this thread!

    Wow - where to start ...

    I am really new to HB. First USEF shows in 2006 with Ray Francis handling my mare for a few shows and then Sam Manno doing the honors at Warrenton and I opted to take her to Merrill Lynch myself where she won BYH under Betty Oare which I was thrilled to bits with!

    Due to distance and time constraints on my part, she was with Jill Johnston (Manno) throughout 2007 and I was thrilled at her results both on the line and in her debut under saddle in November and Jill will be riding and showing her in 2008 as well. Would I have loved to have been there to watch some of her classes? Of course ... but I am no less proud of what she accomplished sitting up here in Canada than I would have been if I had been sitting in the stands at every show ...

    I passionately believe in the HB concept and you guys south of me (I'm Canadian) have NO idea how fabulous a system you have in place despite all of the moans and b!tches to the contrary ... compared to what we have up here in Canada

    Your HB classes are an integral part of an actual show. Our line classes are held totally separately with no spectators except for die hard family members. The ONLY line classes that are held in conjunction with an actual show are the ones at the Royal Winter Fair and then your youngster either has to be a TB or a CSHA (Canadian Sport Horse) otherwise you cannot show.

    There is no point tallying (except within the CSHA umbrella for CSHA registered horses), no year end awards, no recognition. We do get money for most of our wins, so THATS a plus!

    Your trainers and riders will sit in the stands and watch the HB classes - ours are usually at another venue MILES away riding their hunters and never make it to the line classes to watch. EVER ...

    I am thrilled that Jill owns and will be showing one of my homebreds in 2008 (as a yearling) and feel this is SO important, from a breeder's perspective, to have the offspring of my stallion and my breeding program front and centre in the HB classes so that Mare Owners, other exhibitors, possible buyers can see how they stack up against their peers in the classes. If the breeders put a quality product on the ground, it can only help them as the years go by if their youngsters always fare well in these classes and then go on to an equally successful performance career as well.

    I have sat back for years watching renowned breeders like Warioto Farms, Tish Quirk, Camille Greer, etc put simply phenomenal youngsters on the ground and theirs are the programs and the results that I want to emulate and aspire to.

    We handle our line horses TOTALLY differently up here and I remember sitting in the stands and watching class upon class at Devon saying "What the heck. WHY are they doing that? How is the horse responding? Do I like what I see more or less than what I see up here in Canada? Do I agree with it?" and I remember sitting down with Jill and asking her a lot of questions about the difference and learning so much from her as well

    You guys truly do have a system in place, with its inherent warts and all ... ... that is far better than what we have up here. Honestly and truly - appreciate it and figure out ways to tweak it in places and make it better for the breeders, exhibitors, newcomers, etc and dont b!tch about it so much that finally USEF management and show managers throw in the towel and scrap the division altogether because they get fed up to the gills of hearing people crying "Politics!!!" so much ...

    yeah - I am sure that politics play a role equally as much as they do in skating, diving, ice dancing, hunters, selecting the riders for yours and our National Teams, etc. Anything that is subjective will be held up to scrutiny and thats just the way it is ...

    Count your blessings that you HAVE so many HB shows to go to ...



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul. 10, 2002
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    TX/NY/PA
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    Default

    A Hunter Breeding judge named Tucker Ericson recently responded to an email that addressed the question of politics in Hunter Breeding, and included the question “Why are some horses overlooked when they are clearly superior in quality?”

    I feel that his response does a great job of articulating the judge’s point of view. I’m including an excerpt from his email as I think it helps show the sport at its best, and gives us all some things to think about when we hear assertions that everything is fixed, or that judges are “playing politics” when we see placings that we don’t understand.

    (NOTE: Yes, I do have Mr Ericson’s permission to reprint this portion of his email)

    “ I recommend that you get your learner permit and go through the process of learner judging with several different judges. Even if judging is ultimately not your desire or strength you will gain great insight through the judges eyes. We have to make important decisions in a short amount of time. Every judge has their priorities, their hot buttons and every horse/pony has good and bad days. Topics like splints, type, bone substance, breed characteristics, movement, etc. vary drastically amongst judges.

    A handler can make a huge difference too…. I remember a few years ago switching the order I placed two ponies in just a few weeks apart. At the first show the young girl let her pony’s head drag on the ground and it trotted poorly and a couple weeks later when Ray Francis was leading the pony it stood and trotted like a winner. I was told that I took a beating on those gossip sights because I had played “dirty politics.” My reputation and desire to promote the very best quality in our sport is far too important to me to play dirty!

    I am an amateur and worked very hard to get my R in hunter breeding / hunters / equitation. I had no special connections to USEF or anyone on the licensed officials committee when I received my cards. I proved myself and now I am judging the Sallie B Wheeler ….. I think that it’s encouraging that our Hunter Breeding Committee and USEF were willing to give some new blood that responsibility with less than 5 years with a R! I can promise you it will be pinned with integrity! The great thing about judging is that it challenges us to strive to breed and own the very best – you learn something new every class you judge and become a much better exhibitor. I often wish I had a microphone when pinning a class to explain my position – this way a spectator/exhibitor could disagree with my opinion but they would understand my priorities and way of thinking – perhaps they will let me do that this weekend at Our Farm? So I encourage you and everyone to get off those gossip sights and get involved in the learner judging process even if its only for education! This experience will not only take your breeding program to new heights but will challenge every judge to raise the bar. See you at the shows! Respectfully, Tucker Ericson”
    www.symranch.com
    TB Sporthorse Sales and Breeding



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul. 10, 2002
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    TX/NY/PA
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    Default

    [quote=PineTreeFarm;3129504]Symranch

    Thanks for bringing up one of the problems with HB.
    ". I think human nature plays into given more “slack” to a horse that trots poorly one day, but the judge has seen with a spectacular trot on another day."

    The judge is supposed to be evaluating what's in front of him/her. Not what they saw a month ago. Allowing 'slack' certainly prompts a lot of questions about the results and aids the perception that something isn't quite right.

    [quote]
    Is this really a problem with HB, or is it the nature of subjective judging? Is it any different in HB judging than it is in the Hunter ring? Can a judge actually view a 2nd trip with a completely "clean slate" once the first trip was memorable good or bad? Haven't we all had dressage tests with comments like "much improved from last test?"

    I think all we need to ask of our judges is that they be educated in the subject matter, that they avoid ethical conflicts, and that they make a concious effort to judge impartially. And I think that is what any competitor can expect when they take their horse to a HB show. While bad judging can and does occur (as it can and does in every sport!), and it's not acceptable when it does, it's NOT "the norm."
    www.symranch.com
    TB Sporthorse Sales and Breeding



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug. 10, 2006
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SymRanch View Post
    A Hunter Breeding judge named Tucker Ericson recently responded to an email that addressed the question of politics in Hunter Breeding, and included the question “Why are some horses overlooked when they are clearly superior in quality?”

    I feel that his response does a great job of articulating the judge’s point of view. I’m including an excerpt from his email as I think it helps show the sport at its best, and gives us all some things to think about when we hear assertions that everything is fixed, or that judges are “playing politics” when we see placings that we don’t understand.

    (NOTE: Yes, I do have Mr Ericson’s permission to reprint this portion of his email)

    “ I recommend that you get your learner permit and go through the process of learner judging with several different judges. Even if judging is ultimately not your desire or strength you will gain great insight through the judges eyes. We have to make important decisions in a short amount of time. Every judge has their priorities, their hot buttons and every horse/pony has good and bad days. Topics like splints, type, bone substance, breed characteristics, movement, etc. vary drastically amongst judges.

    A handler can make a huge difference too…. I remember a few years ago switching the order I placed two ponies in just a few weeks apart. At the first show the young girl let her pony’s head drag on the ground and it trotted poorly and a couple weeks later when Ray Francis was leading the pony it stood and trotted like a winner. I was told that I took a beating on those gossip sights because I had played “dirty politics.” My reputation and desire to promote the very best quality in our sport is far too important to me to play dirty!

    I am an amateur and worked very hard to get my R in hunter breeding / hunters / equitation. I had no special connections to USEF or anyone on the licensed officials committee when I received my cards. I proved myself and now I am judging the Sallie B Wheeler ….. I think that it’s encouraging that our Hunter Breeding Committee and USEF were willing to give some new blood that responsibility with less than 5 years with a R! I can promise you it will be pinned with integrity! The great thing about judging is that it challenges us to strive to breed and own the very best – you learn something new every class you judge and become a much better exhibitor. I often wish I had a microphone when pinning a class to explain my position – this way a spectator/exhibitor could disagree with my opinion but they would understand my priorities and way of thinking – perhaps they will let me do that this weekend at Our Farm? So I encourage you and everyone to get off those gossip sights and get involved in the learner judging process even if its only for education! This experience will not only take your breeding program to new heights but will challenge every judge to raise the bar. See you at the shows! Respectfully, Tucker Ericson”
    I think that expecting breeders to have the time and money to be learner judges is a bit of a stretch. I said in another post that it is really hard to tell if judges and handlers are playing politics because there is no accountability for the judges placing. We can all speculate on both sides until we are blue in the face but we will never really know why a judge pins their class. It could be politics, it could be what the judge likes, it could be that they just don't know what they are looking at, and it could be that it is just the way the class should have been pinned, but those of us outside of the judges head just don't know. The reality is that this argument of are there or aren't there politics will continue until we have a concrete way of showing why classes are being placed.

    I still say the most educational thing for all of the breeders and handlers would be to be told at the show why a class was placed a certain way. This guy wants a microphone to say why? I say give him one!



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