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Let's hear it for good judges!

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  • Let's hear it for good judges!

    Share names if you wish, or don't. I tend to be shy about posting a name even though I'm saying something nice here, but if someone else wants to say something positive about a judge and share a name go ahead!

    This weekend was my first rated show with my horse. He, well, was putrid. It was somewhat expected, just not to this degree. We can go to a schooling show, and he's extra exuberant, but ok. We've schooled staying several days at the location of this show multiple times, and each time it's been a bit upsetting for him, but he settled down fairly quickly. He needed to actually get IN the ring and perform a test at this venue he finds extra scary, so I signed up with my trainer and myself each showing him in one test a day - me because I need to learn how to ride him when he's a puke, and my trainer because he needs someone used to horses misbehaving on him, too.

    Of course I got the 9:10am test on Saturday. We schooled him for quite a while on Friday and he settled down and was rideable even if tense and nowhere that resembles his home behavior/movement/etc. Saturday, we longed him first before I got on, because he's taught us that the best thing to do when he's worked himself up is canter immediately on mounting...so he needs to be warmed up first. Anyway, he was a gentleman on the longe line like he almost always is, then I got on. First thing he does when we get in the arena is rear. Continues to add in little bucks and rears as we go, is swinging his haunches very far to the right, etc. While being a total butt, he still has full steering and stop/go ability, so we manage fine in the warmup, including steering around the typical warmup mishmash of some riders who don't have steering and others who simply know their horse is bigger and moving faster so others will get out of the way.

    My horse had a warmup accident before I got him, and we think that was part of why he was so stressed. He shied away any time he thought another horse was coming at him, and every time he'd start to settle and relax another horse would worry him and he'd get tense again.

    Anyway, that's all setting the stage to say that despite a quite long warmup, he still wasn't calm when it was time for me to ride my test. We go into the arena, and the bell rings... and he decides forward is 100% broken. This is me on a horse who usually tries SO HARD but has built things into a dreadful situation in his mind, and I just want to get him working, because the work is easy for him if he can get going in it. I know we took over 45 seconds to get into the ring, and with a big class I knew ahead of time we wouldn't place. But I just wanted to get him in and going. The judge allowed us to ride our test despite the delay getting in the ring, and of course as my horse realized how easy the work was he started to settle down mentally even if still horrible by judging standards. Leaving the arena was the first time he slightly relaxed into a normal walk instead of walk/prance hybrid that had been our best attempt at a walk earlier in the day. Each ride after that became much better as far as his mental state, and it's all because a judge was patient when my horse was difficult and gave me the chance to ride my test. Today, while I think my horse was probably slightly muscle sore from everything and he was still super tense and not working anywhere resembling what he does at home, he was actually *happy* to work again. Huge difference. That chance helped me get my horse's mind back.

    I managed to see the judge on a break and thank him today, and he said he was tempted to tell me to back into the arena. I told him I'd seen enough gymkhana horses backed in that it was a thought!
    Originally posted by Silverbridge
    If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.

  • #2
    I don't know of any judges (off the top of my head) who don't want to give riders a break, who don't sympathize (probably empathize) with situations where horses who are frightened and being difficult.

    And then there is the "business" part of a show.

    Even the kindest, most understanding judges are bound by schedules ... all it takes is one or two off-courses, a v-e-e-r-y slow amble across the diagonal, the scribe missing a movement mid-way and confusing scores and they are (imagine lightning and thunder) LATE!

    From your story, you clearly reinforced the judge's impression that the two of you were capable of getting around alive and he was no doubt as pleased with your success as you were.

    While your verbal thanks probably counted a lot, if you can take the time to complete a judge feedback form for the USEF an send it in, the entire business end of showing can also hear how valuable it is (as in, you'd pay again to ride for this judge). And it's not bad to let the show management also know how grateful you are. That's who is in charge of the *business* of shows, which includes tight scheduling to get the most rides to make enough money to keep the show going next year.

    None of this is meant to take away from the intention of your post. I've often wanted to put together something for competitors to share (anonymously) their thoughts on judges who not just gave them scores but really helped their education!


    • #3
      Friend of mine is a closet convert to Dressage(she still won't admit she's converting from Hunters, but can't get enough 'flat work'). We found a schooling show that was at a venue that she shows at all the time(this is how we convinced her to bite the bullet). Anywho, she gets part way through her first test and forgets what the caller just said, and just stopped. The judge got out of her car and asked her if this was her first time. The judge then took the time to explain where she should have been, where she was going, etc. This really made a difference to our closet convert and now she's showing ONLY Dressage next weekend! (Even though she still is in denial about liking Dressage)

      OP, so glad that you had such a wonderful experience at a rated show, judges there can be tough sometimes!
      Truly unique saddle pads, custom available too!

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      • Original Poster

        Originally posted by AllWeatherGal View Post
        While your verbal thanks probably counted a lot, if you can take the time to complete a judge feedback form for the USEF an send it in, the entire business end of showing can also hear how valuable it is (as in, you'd pay again to ride for this judge). And it's not bad to let the show management also know how grateful you are. That's who is in charge of the *business* of shows, which includes tight scheduling to get the most rides to make enough money to keep the show going next year.
        Good points!

        I did let show management know how much I appreciated him. I'll do the USEF feedback form, too - I am still learning so have to figure out how to do that. I really think it's so much easier to complain, that I want to make sure to say good things when I can!
        Originally posted by Silverbridge
        If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.