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Judge commenting on horse's condition?

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  • Judge commenting on horse's condition?

    This was a GMO show, judged by an "r" judge. Not my horse, not my test.

    The judge left a (written) comment that the horse needed more weight - specifically using "weight", not condition/muscle/topline.

    I've never seen a comment like that before and honestly didn't know what to think, whether it was appropriate or not.

    Has anyone else seen such a comment? Is such a comment allowed? I don't expect that there are too many super-thin horses out there showing, but I did see the horse in question and while he was a bit on the leaner for my taste, he wasn't ribby.

  • #2
    I would imagine it was put at then end remarks as a comment to let the rider know that if the horse had more weight on, he would probably look better. I think it's fine to let someone know that the condition of a horse can affect the ability to do well. Especially certain horses will have an overall better appearance with more weight.


    • #3
      I know of a few times (unfortunately)...usually it was spoken, not written.
      Humans don’t mind duress, in fact they thrive on it. What they mind is not feeling necessary. –Sebastian Junger


      • #4
        A horse can have a lot of muscle but be too thin/have bad coat condition. Impression of the horse's physical "look" can have an effect on scores. It is uncommon for a judge to comment on "weight" so if I were that rider I would take a second look at what the horse is being fed and how much and talk to his/her vet.


        • #5
          Yep, I warned my husband his young horse was too 'fat' (like show hunter fat) and that he would be dinged for 'over-condition' and sure enough in the judges comments there was mention of his weight. Spring grass, rapid weight gain coincided with this event--so wasn't much that could be done about it 'right at that moment'. Our young guy subsequently got on a program and it has not been an issue since. This was at an early spring YEH test--so not dressage. Live and Learn.
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          • #6
            If another judge makes the same comments, I'd look into it. As long as the vet thinks the horse is within an acceptable range, I'd take it with a grain of salt. The horse may have had a dull coat and/or over excercised the month ahead of the show. It happens.


            • #7
              Technically you aren't "dinged" for it - horse too fat or too thin. But if the horse is not in appropriate condition for what he is doing, then the judge may just be commenting that horse may score better simply because conditioning/health do affect horse's way of going. Too thin may result in poor energy, etc. It is an unusual comment - would have been helpful to continue with "horse my have better energy with better conditioning"?

              I'm more likely to get the opposite comment - my horses tend to be easy keepers and keeping them trim enough can be a struggle.


              • #8
                I got word once that my horse was the only horse, 4th level through GP that the judge felt was in proper condition for competing at the upper levels. According to the scribe, the "S" judge commented that every other horse ranged from carrying too much extra weight to obese. She did comment on some of the tests sheets that the extra weight effected the horse's ability to perform the movements and the fitness required to adequately complete an upper level test.

                Upper level horses do get larger as their backs get stronger but their tummies shouldnt' follow the trend.


                • #9
                  Last year as I brought my horse back from a DDFT injury, I had TWO clinicians remark that he needed more weight. Not that he was underweight and ribby or anything, but that he needed more "groceries" to build muscles with as he recovered and began moving up the levels again.

                  I had a heart-to-heart with the BO, who (over time) doubled his grain as per the clinician's suggestions. Horse now looks fabulous, round, well-muscled & strong. His diet was fine while he was in light rehab, but as the work increased, his caloric needs did, too. Sometimes I think this gets overlooked by BO's & BM's and it's up to the owner to ask for a feed adjustment.

                  I believe a judge that remarks on the condition of a horse being judged is trying to be helpful. I've scribed enough for judges to know they are rooting for every competitor. They WANT to see us do well. They WANT to see happy, healthy horses and riders in front of them.


                  • #10
                    Many years ago a friend had her horse at Regionals - she had qualified at one of the lower levels. He was the sort who had hip bones that stuck out even when if good weight/condition. The judge (very well known and well respected) commented on his needing weight. My friend was very hurt, as the horse was just fine - it was conformational.

                    So yes, I have heard of it happening!


                    • #11
                      When I was a young sprout and the term Politically Correct was being fiercely debated, judges *would* comment more directly on stuff they thought we were doing wrong.

                      I think it came from their sense that most dressagers were DYIers who used judges as the "reality checks" of their progress. Some, I'm sure, took that seriously enough to believe that a good judge should be willing to step on some toes in order to look out for a horse's well-being if needed.

                      I don't remember bit checks and people looking under my leg for spur marks as is normal now I do, however, remember spur marks on plenty of horses.

                      In this case, if your friend thinks the euphemism has any basis in reality-- the horse is too thin, or in poor health, or just "upside down" to the point that muscle has atrophied on top, quietly correct the problem.
                      The armchair saddler
                      Politically Pro-Cat


                      • #12
                        On the one hand - it should not be dinged. And I do appreciate a judge being concerned for the horse. On the other hand, you never know what the horse is going through. For instance, one of the girls in my barn - we have 14 horses.... all but 2 are fat or over a 5 score - like a few of them are on diets - but two of them - one is 22 and this mare - she is 13 years old - they drop weight when the weather changes and we switch their diets. They go through a 3-4 week period when they are like a 4-4.5 type body score - they look shiney and healthy but tend to be waify in the transition. Also, I took on a warmblood that was SKINNY - like a 2-3 score and he was a 5-6 by the time he had been here 2 months. But if someone had walked in a week after he got here - someone might say I did not feed him. So - devils advocate - you dont know what the situation might be.

                        I would say that if the horse is a 4 or better - a judge should not say anything. I have scribed for many top judges who have told me many times how they need to be careful about saying things like this.

                        But if the horse is trully thin or maybe lack luster - or something - I actually think its a good thing for the judge to feel compelled to say something. It cant be attacking - you dont know the situation.


                        • #13
                          I don't see anything wrong with the comment. It's an opinion. Judges give those. Sometimes they're the ones we pay for, sometimes they're extra-- like observations on a horses' condition. I'm one of those with easy keepers who sometimes get too much grass time. I recall one judge telling me at the end of a test that I should cut back on my mare's grain. When I told her I didn't feed any grain, the response was "well, she's getting too much of SOMETHING, and you need to cut back." And she was right: muzzle time for my mare.

                          What's the big deal?? A judge gives a head's up. Sometimes such things save lives, bouts with laminitis.... whatever


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by fish View Post
                            I don't see anything wrong with the comment. It's an opinion. Judges give those. Sometimes they're the ones we pay for, sometimes they're extra-- like observations on a horses' condition. I'm one of those with easy keepers who sometimes get too much grass time. I recall one judge telling me at the end of a test that I should cut back on my mare's grain. When I told her I didn't feed any grain, the response was "well, she's getting too much of SOMETHING, and you need to cut back." And she was right: muzzle time for my mare.

                            What's the big deal?? A judge gives a head's up. Sometimes such things save lives, bouts with laminitis.... whatever

                            I agree with this - I would prefer the judge comment as it may be helpful. If the comment is N/A due to circumstances (as noted above) then ignore the comment - but the judge is commenting on what they see now.
                            Now in Kentucky


                            • #15
                              I was scribing once when after a test the judge remarked to the rider (who was on a really cute but pretty fat little bay), "Well, your horse certainly isn't underfed, is he?" The rider grinned and said, "No, ma'am!" We all had a good chuckle.
                              Donald Trump - proven liar, cheat, traitor and sexual predator! Hillary Clinton won in 2016, but we have all lost.


                              • Original Poster

                                Originally posted by fish View Post
                                What's the big deal?? A judge gives a head's up. Sometimes such things save lives, bouts with laminitis.... whatever
                                There is no big deal. As I said in the OP, *I* had never seen such a comment before, and was wondering if it were the norm/acceptable. The horse wasn't ribby, but is slightly built and a few more pounds would round out the edges. I can only assume that's what she intended, though I think the owner was a bit offended.

                                It was written by a judge that I have scribed for many times, enjoy working with and find to be extremely helpful, if a little gruff (no sugar-coating here). My scores were good (71% WOOHOO!), comments were helpful, so I can't really complain.


                                • #17
                                  If a horse doesn't have enough weight, it can't build the topline it needs to progress. I had to take weight off my youngster while he was recovering from an injury and in light/minimal because he was too full of vim an vigor and I was worried he would hurt himself or me spooking and jumping around like a rocket ship during what were supposed to be quite stretch walk/trot sessions. Once he was "better" I had to put the weight back on before we could really start progressing again so maybe the judge meant something like that.


                                  • #18
                                    I got the comment once from a schooling show judge. Horse always was lean but muscular (event horse, and fit). But he had broken his hip in his youth so his one hip bone always is much more prominent (i.e pokes out like a starving horse). She pointed to that hip bone and commented that he had to be too thin because horses' bones shouldn't stick out like that.

                                    Uhm. Yeah....

                                    Interestingly, 'real' judges never made a comment...


                                    • #19
                                      Glad to hear it

                                      I saw a young rider on a non-traditional horse at a recent show. Very, very thin, and they rode the snot out of him before the class, even though he appeared pretty obedient. This horse was "a different kind of thin" than say, an event horse that is super lean but muscular.

                                      I HOPE that the judge made a comment. I think that any show horse, regardless of discipline, should be maintained and managed to a higher standard. At least with overweight horses you can argue that showing is exercise. Thin horses are just sad. Keep them home until you have them at a basic level of condition.
                                      Last edited by staceyk; Oct. 1, 2012, 11:59 PM.
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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Heinz 57 View Post
                                        I can only assume that's what she intended, though I think the owner was a bit offended.
                                        Seems like such a silly thing to get offended about.