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Calling all Equitation JUDGES!!

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  • Calling all Equitation JUDGES!!

    Looking for opinions on some Equitation questions.

    How much does this matter to the judges when judging an eq flat class?

    Would you rather a tight leg compared to perfect hands?

    Perfect hands/elbow/posture compared to a not-so-tight leg?

    Horse in an appropriate frame, bending through turns, and engaged behind?

    Slumped shoulders but awesome hands and leg?

    Light seat compared to deep seat?

    For me I cannot stand to see a pretty rider on an horse going around inverted. I think its the "whole picture" and how well horse and rider communicate. Horse should be properly warmed up and schooled so he is going around soft and on the bit. I would like to hear some opinions on this stuff from any big eq trainers and qualified judges.

    Tinker Toy & Blue Bonnett

  • #2
    If you do any of the no-nos, you will place lower than another rider who did it well on all accounts...

    Tts about good seat, hands and legs... basics, basics. Since Eq is about the rider, the horse's frame can slide a bit, otherwise you have to have even hands, steady leg, down in the heels, shoulders back, looking ahead. If you can fake a full seat canter with a half seat, more power to you... BUT, the rider who sits the canter will place higher.


    • #3
      Although I think this topic sound similar to a lot of recent debates on the current trends in the equitation, I would be interested to hear from people who judge the equitation since I am sure it is not as simple as FAW makes it seem.

      For instance, a horse that isn't framed is a reflection on the rider's inability to achieve suppleness. I would assume that a posed, pretty rider whose horse's nose is poked out might not win over a solid rider with an engaged horse who maybe has a rounder back. But then again the first rider might stand out more where as the second rider could be overlooked.

      I'm not sure, which is why I think this could be an interesting thread if the controversy over the current equitation ring style could be kept to a minimum.


      • #4
        I am anxious to see where this thread goes as well.

        I too am partial to a rider that can not only look good but can put her horse together and have them round, soft and engaged. I am no judge or trainer but I have always been under the impression that Eq is judged on communication between horse and rider ( amongst other things), so the pair that works TOGETHER compared to a pretty rider on an inverted horse wins for me.


        • #5
          Yeah but... this focus on a "frame" is what has lead to horses living in draw reins and fake head sets. So no, I don't want to see something going around inverted, but I'm not opposed to a well-positioned rider riding the horse up into contact, which may result in a less "fashionable" frame, but still an athletically effective frame.

          Level of competition and experience should factor into this question. When I see a 3'/12 & Under eq class flatting around with a bunch of curled up necks it makes me very suspicious. A "framed" horse in no way means that kid isn't posed up there with draw reins slid off 3 steps before the in-gate...
          EHJ | FB | #140 | watch | #insta


          • #6
            My priorities:

            1. Control (influence over the horse)

            2. Judgement (do they conduct themselves safely in the group)

            3. Position (form, which should be correct and functional, and which heavily influence a rider's ability to exercise factors 1 and 2)

            4. Showmanship (how well they demonstrate what they know)

            The degree to which a rider is able to demonstrate correct position and control while using good judgement in making his way around the ring at the required pace must be determined quickly. Then, comparisons must be made and conclusions drawn about who is the most competent, the next most competent, etc. All the while, major errors (wrong leads, diagonals, loss of gait, loss of irons, etc) must be kept track of, along with less glaring ones (twisted reins, poorly adjusted tack, etc). Then the lineup--and keeping in mind that the class is still in progress, this is where many riders commit one last error in lining up improperly (behind or in front of another horse, too close, facing opposite the direction they are supposed to) or set themselves apart by showing they really are knowledgable, considerate, and capable.

            Without seeing the entirety of a class, it is not possible to say which of the position flaws you mention should rank ahead of or behind another rider who is apparently more competent, ie the 'better' rider may have dangerously cut another off earlier in the class, whereas the 'less skilled' may have successfully negotiated the entire class keeping clear of the others and maintaining perfect control.

            Try judging an entire class sometime, and you will see what I mean.

            It isn't always as simple as the judge makes it look.
            Inner Bay Equestrian


            • #7
              Many judges hate that behind the bit look you see in dressage


              • #8
                Originally posted by FAW View Post
                Many judges hate that behind the bit look you see in dressage
                Geeze what a silly, hyperbolic statement that is. A correct dressage frame is in no way behind the bit. It is surely a more compact frame than a hunter frame but dressage horses are taught to move from their back end into the bridle, often times more correctly than most hunter horses IMO (and this is coming from a self proclaimed hunter princess )


                • #9
                  I don't get it. How can a rider have "perfect hands" or a "perfect hands/elbow/posture" with a loose leg?????

                  One supports the other. Good judges can see that and not be fooled by "posturing" or "posing" with no real base of support. Just like most judges are not fooled by the horse who thinks the drawreins are still on that makes it look like the rider is effective.
                  When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                  The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                  • #10
                    It's not always cut clearly in black and white...we have to judge what is in front of us.

                    And remember we are comparing a group of riders and putting them in order. From what the OP asks, it sounds like a moderate level flat class they are inquiring about...

                    Safety, control, rider form and presentation are all in consideration as I mark my card. I always consider too, does the horse look happy? Or is the rider getting in the way...

                    M. O'Connor puts the points together well in his post above.

                    Sometimes mistakes happen and the order you have going one direction changes dramatically due to rider errors.

                    And also on the flip side, if I didn't see it (an error) it didn't happen...we all have to look down at times to mark the card...


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by FAW View Post
                      Many judges hate that behind the bit look you see in dressage
                      I think the Dressage judges would hate it too. Behind the bit is not, or should not, be rewarded at any level or discipline.


                      • #12
                        But, in a show ring flat class, the judge has to rank the riders against each other. Not against a standard.

                        Best of the worst can be the winner, does not mean the judge liked it. Means they hated it less then the others.
                        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                        • #13
                          If you really want to know what judges think about equitation, go to askthehorseshowjudge.com, pay the fee and find out. Lots of judges.


                          • #14
                            I'm not a judge but as a kid my trainer used to have us "judge" one another in our lessons. We learned A LOT do so.

                            Sometimes it's the lesser of evils and how much or little they impact the horse. A rider with imperfect hands may be OK if mounted on a horse with a mouth of steel, where the same hands might annoy a more touchy type. A super broke horse can make a rider that's pretty but ineffective look better than they are with self carriage, auto transitions etc but a good judge can often catch them in an error that outs them. (These are usually the one's whose trainers are ranting at the gate during pinning!)

                            A good seat and leg are the foundation for all else. The control and safety and poise all come from the strong seat and leg. Without that base, it's less likely that you'll have the rest of it.
                            F O.B
                            Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
                            Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique


                            • #15
                              Is that 'advertising' FAW, or are you suggesting that our answers here aren't as valid because they are free?

                              (USEF 'r' H/J/HEQ, CJSS) <----- "real" judge here, btw.
                              Inner Bay Equestrian


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by MintHillFarm View Post
                                I think the Dressage judges would hate it too. Behind the bit is not, or should not, be rewarded at any level or discipline.
                                Behind the bit and behind the vertical are two different things, both penalized in dressage. Or should be.
                                2012 goal: learn to ride like a Barn Rat

                                A helmet saved my life.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by M. O'Connor View Post
                                  Is that 'advertising' FAW, or are you suggesting that our answers here aren't as valid because they are free?

                                  (USEF 'r' H/J/HEQ, CJSS) <----- "real" judge here, btw.
                                  FAW, she got ya!LOL!!


                                  • #18
                                    Nobody has me. Ya just telling me your not too serious or cheap. Whatever. The answers lay in that website. These are judges you would see in any A show in the country. Their opinions count if your seriously interested in Eq and want to improve. Your choice. BTW, my answer in the begining came from these judges opinions on Eq on the flat.


                                    • #19
                                      Also, you can go to judgemyride.net and ask "R" equitation judges-- for free!


                                      • #20
                                        This month's Practical Horseman has a special edition of GM's jumping clinic where he comments on photos of Beezie Madden and each of the riders in January's Horsemastership Training Session. He especially emphasizes contact between horse and rider, as well as rider position. Here's a link to an abbreviated version of the article: