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Lois Yukin's "From the Judges Box" in the USDF Connection

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  • #21
    Originally posted by Perfect Pony View Post
    PP, fwiw it's not necessarily just about "easy" judges. My friend with her Friesian mare has learned that some judges just don't score her horses well, clearly with a bias. So it goes both ways.
    Yeah, when I was showing a Friesian, I found that out too, a handful of judges who just don't like a specific breed. And some are quite vocal about it. Heck, there was a judge posting about it on "TOB" a few years back! And one judge scores one of my horses consistently lower because he's a pinto. Years ago, I rode an Arab in a Training Level test, and the judge (r) actually stood up and TOLD me at the end of the ride that Arabs can't do dressage. Holy moly, please don't tell the horse that! I do keep a short list of judges I avoid - either because of breed bias issues or just plain crappy comments and bad attitudes.

    OTOH, I find most judges to be very professional and doing their best to be fair and unbiased. Besides showing, I scribe for a heck of a lot of judges - and I really think, overall, it is a very honorable profession. But... There are bad eggs, and those are the ones we really remember. Most of the bad eggs I've run into are older, and hopefully "aging out" of the profession.

    I also believe USEF and the other judges should do a bit of "policing" and drum those bad eggs out. Many judges know who the bad ones are - but it is kind of like the medical profession - you never turn on your own! And to add to it, some of them are very nice people, just not good judges - which makes it even harder to "do something" about them.

    And if someone wins a class of only 1 - yeah, they still won the class? So why is that an issue for Ms. Yukins? If there is only 1 in the class, it isn't the competitors fault - and that is one reason USDF uses scores instead of wins (although you can always award "win" points based on size of class). I don't care what you do, people will always figure out how to "game" the system.

    In our CDS Championships, once you are champion/reserve champion, you have to move up or move on. I think it is a good rule - you can continue to sandbag it at shows, but not at the championships. Of course, it is based on horse/rider team, so you can put a different rider on the horse and go back to the same level. And I'm OK with that, since it is often a less experienced rider on a seasoned horse.

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    • #22
      There is a lot of it going on, some for legit reasons, some not. Someone has shows at their barn and does not show at them if the judge doesn't score high enough, finds another show where they can ge the higher score to change the year end standing. I will give no clue as to who it is, but you would be surprised. A lot of people do that.

      SOme judges do score too low, too. They are good judges and I agree with what they say, but it's too low. I scribed for a judge who I think is good and did a very fair job (And I respect her as an accomplished rider and trainer), but I made the mistake of mentioning I knew the interesting looking horse coming in the arena and that it was part Freisian. She mentioned gaits issues, and her scores were much lower for than horse. The other judge at the show gave it the high score of the show.

      And I used to show an Appy. I had to choose certain judges, or no matter what I did I got screwed. At one annual championship there was a 20% difference in scores between the judge who was head of the FEI and the German judge who clearly did not like Appies.

      I don't know that there is going to be any way to get rid of all of the manipulation and make everything exactly fair. You have to do what you can and live with your own ethics. I am very proud I just picked the five closest shows with no judge picking last year for my four year old 60 days under saddle and ended up 20th in the nation and champion (with a nice jacket) at one show, with judges all over the board. It shows me something. If I had a different looking horse, though, it might have been a waste of time.

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      • #23
        The Friesian "horror" stories are making me worried about showing a Friesian this summer....
        RIP my beautiful Lola, ????–August 29, 2014

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        • Original Poster

          #24
          I've also seen Friesians clean up--at all levels, including FEI. I don't think it's a breed issue as much as it's the natural movement of the breed, unless you manage to get a flatter knee mover.
          "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"

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          • #25
            Originally posted by Velvet View Post
            I've also seen Friesians clean up--at all levels, including FEI. I don't think it's a breed issue as much as it's the natural movement of the breed, unless you manage to get a flatter knee mover.
            There's loads of knee action in dressage warmbloods now, though. You don't want a daisy cutter in the dressage ring (nor do you want the motion of a Park horse). But, I'm not gunning for anything big, so I will just go out there, try to get over my show nerves, and have fun!
            RIP my beautiful Lola, ????–August 29, 2014

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            • Original Poster

              #26
              Agreed, the knee action is huge these days. To an extent I do not appreciate. JMO I like a flatter knee in the extended gaits.
              "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"

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              • #27
                Originally posted by Velvet View Post
                I've also seen Friesians clean up--at all levels, including FEI. I don't think it's a breed issue as much as it's the natural movement of the breed, unless you manage to get a flatter knee mover.
                Yes, the one I am talking about has won CDS championships at 1st, 2nd and 3rd level. And some judges simply place her lower. Others pin her at the top.

                When you have a different breed (TB, Arab, Friesian, Andalusion, etc) you sometimes simply do not show under some judges.
                On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog

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                • #28
                  Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
                  Awards are based on scores at a particular level. So a First ribbon with a too low score will not count toward an award, nor will placings and scores outside of the level for which the award is give. Picking high scoring judges, or lenient judges, most certainly will help though.
                  All of your scores count?

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                  • #29
                    Originally posted by Velvet View Post
                    I've also seen Friesians clean up--at all levels, including FEI. I don't think it's a breed issue as much as it's the natural movement of the breed, unless you manage to get a flatter knee mover.
                    Oh, I have heard judges make very specific comments about not liking Friesians. I rode one with a fabulous canter, and lovely walk and every once in a while, would get totally inappropriate comments about the walk or canter, because, after all, don't they all have bad walks and canters Yes, there are a few judges out there with specific breed bias.

                    I showed up to a competition two years ago on my Friesian and had several different show volunteers come and tell me I was going to run into problems with the specific judge because she hated Friesians and was very vocal about it. I thought, well, this is my chance to show her a fantastic Friesian - she hated him too

                    And many other breeds have knee action including some of the Dutch WBs and many PREs - knee action should not cause scores to be lowered (or raised). It can make it a bit harder to teach lengthenings (and medium and extended gaits), but often makes for a pretty piaffe and passage. Reality - it is much more about what is happening behind then how much knee is in front

                    I'm not saying ALL judges hate Friesians (or Arabs, or horses with spots, or other specific types), but there are some out there that just can't get past a personal bias.

                    Perfect Pony - I think I know what mare you are talking about - I judged her early on in a schooling show. She's lovely! One of my friends also rode a Friesian to top 3 wins through 3rd level at Championships. Yes, we just learn to avoid some judges when we ride something other then a Warmblood. And even on a WB, if it has spots or is an "untraditional" color - there are one or two judges to watch out for.

                    So - I haven't gotten my USDF Connection yet - it is taking its time getting to the West Coast!

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                    • #30
                      Originally posted by MysticOakRanch View Post
                      I also believe USEF and the other judges should do a bit of "policing" and drum those bad eggs out. Many judges know who the bad ones are - but it is kind of like the medical profession - you never turn on your own! And to add to it, some of them are very nice people, just not good judges - which makes it even harder to "do something" about them.
                      USEF competition evaluation form

                      Use it. Not just for the judges and show management, but for TDs, too, who have a lot more influence than most people realize.
                      *=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        Judge evaluation

                        Originally posted by AllWeatherGal View Post
                        USEF competition evaluation form

                        Use it. Not just for the judges and show management, but for TDs, too, who have a lot more influence than most people realize.
                        I agree, this was a topic at the USDF convention, use the evaluation forms! Don't just complain to friends or on forums. Use the forms for both good and bad.
                        Theresa

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                        • #32
                          In the interest of full disclosure, I also had a dislike of Friesians--then I rode this one! Many of my DQ friends will not touch a Friesian with a 50' pole, and shake their heads at me. I've gotten one or two sneers as well, from WB friends. But you know what? At this point, with 2 retired horses, I will ride pretty much anything, regardless of breed. I understand the err of my ways being somewhat breed bias, and it probably cost me some good rides on nontraditional horses; now I'm just making up for lost time!

                          I'm having too much fun riding Mr. Friesian, and the people looking down at me aren't riding anything. Who's winning?
                          RIP my beautiful Lola, ????–August 29, 2014

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                          • #33
                            Interesting discussion . . .

                            "SOme judges do score too low, too. They are good judges and I agree with what they say, but it's too low. I scribed for a judge who I think is good and did a very fair job (And I respect her as an accomplished rider and trainer), but I made the mistake of mentioning I knew the interesting looking horse coming in the arena and that it was part Freisian. She mentioned gaits issues, and her scores were much lower for than horse. The other judge at the show gave it the high score of the show."

                            The judges I've scribed for have never voiced any breed preference, and were more than happy to reward a well trained "off breed". I have the greatest respect for what judges do and how hard it is. Of course there have been times when I've felt like "rescheduling" the show staff so I don't have to scribe agian for a judge that I don't click with, but then I try to think about why it didn't work and try to fix "me" the next day. And most importantly, even if it's my daughter coming down the center line on my "off breed" horse, the judge will never know it! : )

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                            • #34
                              The Friesian "horror" stories are making me worried about showing a Friesian this summer....

                              Don't be. Those of us with unconventional breeds (and some of us have and show more than 1) have definitely run into breed bias, some blatant (hey at least they let me know so I can take all else in the proper context) and some a bit more subtle. I think we all, though, can also point to many shows and judges where the pair in front of them was scored fairly with appropriate comments despite how much hair might have been left below the knee There are also plenty of us with such beasts that have managed to reach a few milestones even with the "handicap".

                              Most of the biased judges will reveal themselves; and yes, for those of us who count our hard earned dollars and try to spread them wisely, you have to figure out if it's worth it to ride in front of them again. Others (judges) those known and unknown, you just do the best you can, read the comments and plan your homework.

                              I have ridden in front of one judge a number of times who is very low scoring. It's pretty common knowledge that certain riders will not ride in front of her because of concern of what a low score will do regardless of the color of the ribbon. Once she was overheard at a show, where she was judging, in a discussion with two scribes discussing the breed I ride and not in a glowing light. To be fair, one of the scribes started the discussion. After learning about it, my initial reaction was not to ride in front of her again.............but you know what.....as things do in life, changes happened and I needed to roll with'em. I have shown in front of her since with the same breed. One of those times she gave me a 70 at a recognized show. After the show she commented that she liked my horse and asked about her breeding. I told her. She asked, "What score did I give you?" I told her. She chuckled and her comment was to the effect that she really must have liked my horse since that was a score that she doesn't hand out easily. I am now taking occasional (I'm 3 hours away from her) lessons from that judge. She has coached me at some shows too (got my last score for my silver medal with her and others' help). I finally figured that the best coarse of action was to find out what she felt I could do to improve my riding. Now I would not have done this if I didn't respect her knowledge or felt that she couldn't ride/train/teach. I still don't agree with her bias or preferences ; but that doesn't prevent me from learning.

                              To each their own; but, I would have to say that I would gladly ride in front of anyone if a lottery system which determines the judges at each show were in place. In fact I think it would be pretty interesting to see how the awards stacked up if this were to happen. I'm hoping that such a change will happen during my life in the saddle.
                              Ranch of Last Resort

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                              • #35
                                Originally posted by exvet View Post
                                The Friesian "horror" stories are making me worried about showing a Friesian this summer....

                                Don't be. Those of us with unconventional breeds (and some of us have and show more than 1) have definitely run into breed bias, some blatant (hey at least they let me know so I can take all else in the proper context) and some a bit more subtle. I think we all, though, can also point to many shows and judges where the pair in front of them was scored fairly with appropriate comments despite how much hair might have been left below the knee There are also plenty of us with such beasts that have managed to reach a few milestones even with the "handicap".
                                Thank you for writing this (as well as the rest of your post!). I need to take each and every test as a learning experience, and not even think about the judge and what their bias may or may not be.

                                While I said I'm not gunning for anything big, I *do* have lofty goals for the future. I think this Friesian could potentially get me my Bronze medal (if I can sit his trot in the future!), which I never thought I'd *ever* be able to do. But my more immediate goals are to get Rider Performance Awards in Training and First Levels, and eventually Second (again, the sitting trot). I didn't think I would ever be able to make those my goals, and it's still unreal to me that I'm typing them out! Aim for the moon, right?
                                RIP my beautiful Lola, ????–August 29, 2014

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  ExVet, I'm not sure a lottery system will ever happen. First are travel logistics - most smaller shows try to only hire within a smaller radius so they aren't paying too much in travel. Some judges won't travel outside of a certain radius unless the show is at least 3 days long.

                                  Then there is the judge scheduling issues - they have to work the shows into their schedules, so they need to know where/when they are working. Once they know, someone else will find out, and eventually the word will be out, who is judging which shows.

                                  Then some judges don't want to travel too far afield - some are not willing to do the more remote locations. Some show managers aren't willing to work with certain judges after bad experiences. Or you get a judge who is "higher maintenance" - for example, I know a judge who doesn't have a driver's license, which means someone has to commit to ALL transportation, and he is nowhere near an airport.

                                  Then there is the whole judging levels - a one ring show needs an "S" (or higher) judge - of course, that is pretty easy, sort the lottery into judge levels, but still, one more thing to deal with.

                                  Finally, we have to trust the lottery system.

                                  I doubt we'll see a lottery system in our show-lives. One where the competitors have no idea of who the judges are until the are at the show. And - some people will still game the system - they will scratch if they don't like the judge.

                                  Personally, I want to know who I'm showing under - not because I'm chasing big scores (I can't afford that), but because I don't want to waste my money and time on certain judges.

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    Originally posted by AZ TD View Post
                                    I agree, this was a topic at the USDF convention, use the evaluation forms! Don't just complain to friends or on forums. Use the forms for both good and bad.
                                    Theresa
                                    Oh, I completely concur. The judge I'm thinking of in my example above? The rider submitted the form, plus a copy of the score sheet so they could see the comments, too.

                                    We absolutely must report judges, good, bad, and indifferent.

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      Originally posted by MysticOakRanch View Post
                                      most smaller shows try to only hire within a smaller radius so they aren't paying too much in travel....<snipped>
                                      True, and for me this is a huge problem. We have several places that hold licensed one-day shows, and it's always the same 3-4 judges. Even if I look at shows in the neighboring states, it's those same local judges. Another thing I've noticed is that the (what I consider to be best) local judges rarely judge locally, but choose to accept judges assignments in the distance states, using it more like a vacation. I would guess that probably most people don't notice things like this, but I do.

                                      Comment


                                      • #39
                                        I doubt we'll see a lottery system in our show-lives. One where the competitors have no idea of who the judges are until the are at the show. And - some people will still game the system - they will scratch if they don't like the judge.

                                        Oh trust me, I do understand the logistics and in no way am holding my breath Still it would seem that someone smarter than I could devise a judging pyramid that could work. Nothing will ever level the playing field completing and I'm not asking for that. I do think the award system, though, could use an overhaul and as for the judging/judges system, well, for now it is what it is.

                                        I too have judges that I will not show under; but, it's far less about breed bias than the "uh?" factor. If I cut out all the judges who do not "like" my breed or openly feel that it's more suited to another discipline, I would actually have few shows to go too . I think most judges can give good feedback without letting their personal preferences unduly influence their scoring. There is one, however, I've shown under at least 5 times, 3 different horses over the period of 2 years. EVERY SINGLE TIME I GOT THE SAME COMMENT at the bottom of the test sheet, "Needs more bow in the neck" You mean more contact? Needs to be more on the vertical? Get the horse on my aids? Drive them into my aids hands better? Be more effective with my aids?

                                        Either way it doesn't really matter. I will be reducing the number of recognized shows I attend significantly. Our show fees have just increased again and there is no way I can continue to afford it as I have in the past. I'm getting too old to care; so, will likely be spending more dollars on breeding my herd, clinics, lessons and schooling shows.
                                        Ranch of Last Resort

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                                        • #40
                                          Originally posted by MysticOakRanch View Post
                                          Yeah, and I've seen pro riders purposefully get disqualified when the ride wasn't going well - whoops, we jumped out of the arena. It happens. I see a lot of scratches in shows where a judge's scores are posting low.

                                          I figure I paid my darn hard-earned $, I'm not stratching unless my horse is lame! But yes, people are quite capable of manipulating the system.
                                          Gee, that never occurred to me, and I've had some rides where doing that would definitely have aided my median. Darn! Still, the horse I had then was a hunter-type mover that some judges just didn't care for, but even then, he was marked pretty fairly if he gave me his usual ride: strong on transitions/obedience, weak on gaits. Hmmmm....certainly, no judge would question my present horse's jumping out of an arena! I had one test when he spooked violently three times (when he was younger). My median would certainly have been better without THAT score! LOL

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