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How do hunter shows pick the judge?

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  • How do hunter shows pick the judge?

    I had been considering working towards my hunter judges card in the next few years. I have been out of the sport for a while, but know enough of the people that it should be possible to get the required references and judges hours.

    I was recently talking to someone who had been a Hunter Judge, but gave it up, as she said getting hired was all politics. It is not cheap/easy to get carded, so don't want to do the work and then not get hired.

    Her thoughts were that if you aren't "a barn", and buying and selling horses, you aren't likely to get hired. I have no doubt that the person I was talking to would have been a very good judge as she still judges other disciplines.

    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

  • #2
    USEF has a database that has all the licensed officials organized by location for show managers to choose from. Obviously they would want to pick a "popular" professional or experienced judge but sometimes it comes down to availability and location (cheaper transportation).

    I am currently going through the process- I have been accepted and am going to start "learner" judging this year. It is fairly pricey and definitely time consuming but I really have enjoyed judging schooling shows so I think it will be worth it for the rateds. Make sure to always introduce yourself to show managers and show secretaries- word of mouth helps.


    • #3
      First check the USEF requirements for obtaining a judges card. they've made the process more streamlined but I still believe you have to get so many written references from USEF members (it used to be about 15 but am not sure now); then you about the process of getting your judges card. During that time, hopefully you would be making contacts at the various shows you were learner judging at as well as the required seminar(s) you need to attend. Getting back involved in the sport will also help. Once you get your card, you could advertise in local equestrian publications if you have any where you are. As mentioned previously USEF maintains a database of judges and when I hired judges for an association I used that much of the time to hire judges. If you have a state association they might also have a directory which where I am many local unrated shows use for judges.


      • Original Poster

        I am in Canada so the rules are different. I need at least 3 references, take a judging course, get over 80% on the exam, have a judge mentor me at at least 4 shows...and I think that is it to get the "Recorded Status".

        I am wanting to also get my recorded status for Dressage, so will likely focus on that first, but if the course comes up at a good time...just trying to figure out if worth it.

        I really like hunters, and looking for careers in horses that don't require full use of legs. Other than U/S and Eq, hunter judging is mosting sitting
        Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


        • #5
          Originally posted by CHT View Post

          I really like hunters, and looking for careers in horses that don't require full use of legs. Other than U/S and Eq, hunter judging is mosting sitting
          I'm just going to be brutally honest. Unless you are a big name trainer/coach/rider, don't expect to make a career out of judging horse shows. And even then, the well used judges out there will tell you it would not be considered a career. It would be a part-time job...at best!

          Low end judges (meaning those with little credentials or those just starting out) don't get paid a whole lot and usually don't get used a whole lot, for obvious reasons. It's sort of like applying for a job - no one will hire you unless you have experience, but you can't get experience unless someone hire's you! Regardless of whether you are a big name trainer or not, you have to take a few things into consideration when judging. When I'm away judging, I get paid a daily fee, my flight is paid for, my hotel is paid for, my food is paid for, my rental car is paid for, but....no one pays for my dry cleaning, so that has to come out of the daily rate I charge. No one pays for my fancy judging clothes, so my judging jobs have to cover those costs. No one pays for my long distance phone calls to call home. If my husband comes with me, then we have to pay someone to look after the farm while we are gone, or if he is stuck working out of town or overtime, we still have to pay someone to looks after the farm

          If a show needs to fly you in to judge, be prepared to spend the day before in the airport and the day after the show in the airport. If you're lucky, you'll be able to flight out Sunday night. Regardless, that's another two days away from home. Some shows, I can be away from home anywhere from 5-7 days. It's especially difficult if you've got horses in training, mares that need to be bred, stallions that need to be collected, mares foaling, etc. If you're judging a 3-5 day show, it's often impossible to pack everything you need into a carry-on, so are then stuck paying $25-35 per checked bag. Again, the show doesn't cover that expense. If you are not able to get a direct flight to the show, be prepared to do a fair bit of walking to get to a connecting gate or to a new terminal with your bags (some airports, it feels like it would be shorter to walk the entire Mohave desert!)- something to consider if walking causes difficulties. And while the majority of hunter and dressage judging is a matter of just sitting, it is something to reconsider if you have a bad back, hips, etc. Normally, we aren't provided with the most comfortable of chairs. Regardless, sitting for 7-8 hours a day can make even the healthiest of backs sore. And then a few nights in a strange bed just puts more salt in the wound. Ask me how I know? Insurance - most judges carry extra insurance which usually runs around $800+/year. I've heard it as high as $1,200 per year.

          If you are only judging within Canada and want to obtain an Equine Canada (EC) Judges card and judge EC shows, you must maintain a yearly gold sport license which currently runs $100/year. Expect to be charged $25/year per card for recorded judges cards and $30/year per card for Senior cards with EC. As well, it is mandatory you attend an updating judges clinic once every three years. So then you have to factor in $250-350 per clinic, travel costs, hotel, food, etc. for that as well.

          One of the hardest things for me is getting called in December to judge a horse show the next July. I also do a lot of showing myself, so trying to predict/schedule which shows we will be attending during the next upcoming year can be tough, especially if a new show suddenly pops up. As a result, I turn down approximately 20 judging jobs a year and try and at least keep my July and August's open for myself. Unfortunately, that's when most shows want you to judge I also try and remain home during the month of May, as that is our foaling season and tends to be our busiest month for shipping semen.

          In my opinion, the hardest part of having an EC judges card is that you are NOT allowed to judge non-EC shows. So, that small hunter/jumper schooling show down the road that has offered to give you a great day fee if you'll come judge for the day or that cute little dressage schooling show that has asked if you will judge - you will have to turn them down

          Unless you are judging quite a bit during the year, your expenses will end up cancelling out your income (due to all of the various expenses lists above). At the end of the day, you have to do it because you love it, not because you think you're going to make a ton of money doing it. If you do make money at it, it's just icing on the cake.

          Having spoken to a lot of various judges out there in Canada, there are quite a few who opt not to maintain an EC judges card. That way, they are able to judge freely, don't have all of the added expenses of maintaining an EC judges card, none of the restrictions, but still have all of the benefits of judging!
          Home of Welsh Cob stallion Goldhills Brandysnap
          Also home to Daventry Equine Appraisals & Equine Expert Witness


          • #6
            Honestly, a good judge without a card can make as much judging unrated shows as they do at B/C shows.

            IMO, it's not worth jumping through the USEF hoops to get a small r.

            I had actually considered trying for my steward's card, but again, they just make it too painful to bother.

            Originally Posted by JSwan
            I love feral children. They taste like chicken.


            • #7
              Originally posted by MyGiantPony View Post
              Honestly, a good judge without a card can make as much judging unrated shows as they do at B/C shows.
              Couldn't agree more.
              Home of Welsh Cob stallion Goldhills Brandysnap
              Also home to Daventry Equine Appraisals & Equine Expert Witness