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Judge touched horses in Halter/showmanship classes today. Is that allowed?

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  • Judge touched horses in Halter/showmanship classes today. Is that allowed?

    We have done more than our fair share of halter and showmanship classes (E/W) and watched many, many more.

    Today we were at a large area year-end show with a judge I had not seen. Anyway, in the halter and showmanship classes she touched every horse's muzzle and in the Open Showmanship class not only did she touch/rub their muzzles she grabbed and pulled every one of the horse's tails (nearly pulled one horse over).

    We were shocked. I think everyone else was too. In that open class, a few of the horses had fake tails and she switched two horses in the end, right after doing the tail thing. Both #1 and #2 horse had fake tails. Some horses clearly did not have fake tails so what gives with that?

    It is our understanding from years of showing and watching that the judge is never to touch the horse. They can ask the exhibitor to do something with their horse but they are not to touch the horse.

    Are they allowed now?

  • #2
    And the judge didn't get kicked or bit? Wow.
    a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


    • #3
      Yes, the judge is allowed to touch your horse. I would think that pulling tails would be crossing the line, however. In showmanship, if the judge touches your horse, you are expected to run your hand over the area the judge touched. For example, if the judge pushed the mane to one side, you fix it. If the judge ran his/her hand over your horse;s withers, you do the same, almost like you are "dusting" off the judge's hand print.


      • #4
        Was that an AQHA show?

        I would think that touching noses on more than one horse would transmit diseases if one had something brewing, so that would be a big no-no.

        Now, checking one tail that looks like it was altered, that they have right to do, but all in a class?

        If the show is sanctioned by any one organization, you could ask them about this?


        • #5
          As a kid, the Judges touched horses on a regular basis. Often stood to one side, pulled the tail over to check under for dirt, ran their fingers thru the long hair to check for knots. As mentioned, moved mane hair or scrubbed a finger to check skin dirt. Exhibitor is ALWAYS expected to smooth out the location touched by Judge, rearrange hair to previous position. That is WHY you have a long lead strap! Trained horse stands while you do it.

          Never was wild about muzzle touches, easy to spread germs that way, since Judge does not wash between animals. I have been asked in halter to "show the teeth" when checking for teeth matching, no parrot or monkey mouth in breeding stock. Of course this was "back in the day" and Judge picked horses HE/SHE would like to own as winners.

          Touching horse, moving hoof, tail, would be perfectly legal. Tail PULLING, sounds odd, but maybe checking for balance and resistance from the horse. Some problems are partially diagnosed with tail pulls.


          • #6
            Originally posted by lotc2005 View Post
            Yes, the judge is allowed to touch your horse. I would think that pulling tails would be crossing the line, however. In showmanship, if the judge touches your horse, you are expected to run your hand over the area the judge touched. For example, if the judge pushed the mane to one side, you fix it. If the judge ran his/her hand over your horse;s withers, you do the same, almost like you are "dusting" off the judge's hand print.
            Yep I showed mostly Western Showmanship but they always fussed with the horses manes and tails.. I don't recall them *yanking* the tails but fluffed him up and we'd have to scurry around to "fix" them.


            • Original Poster

              Thanks everyone. This was not a sanctioned show but rather a large area Club and Open show. You know 15-20 people in a class.

              She did not "fluff" the tail, she YANKED. I thought the same thing with the muzzles too. She must have touched 40-50 horses in those classes and we know of at least one yearling in a halter class who had a runny nose.

              No one did a thing.


              • #8
                Maybe something to do with "dead" tails, injections that were such a problem before. Rules passed on that in AQHA, but not sure how much enforcing was ever done. They may be coming down harder on those folks, so Judges are required to do some tail testing.

                Kind of like AQHA Judges are required to move the horses faster in WP classes, so they HAVE to show FORWARD MOTION! Rules keep changing, some Judges are more willing to do what is required than others, to get the newer rules working.


                • #9
                  I have absolutely no experience with halter classes of any sort (other than kids & ponies at local shows), but my first thought was that the judge might have been checking for nerved tails too.
                  Y'all ain't right!


                  • Original Poster

                    Possibly she was but she only did the tail pulling in the one open class and it's a local show, not a sanctioned show.

                    To address the moving out thing. It's ironic b/c in one class, a W/T adult class she wanted to see them move out at the walk and the horse she pinned first was a WP youngster and he B-A-R-E-L-Y moved, even at the walk-she even asked for an extended walk.

                    I don't think she's going to be asked back again.


                    • #11
                      Possibly she was setting the horse off balance and seeing if the exhibitors were paying attention to resetting the horse in the rear?

                      Honestly I wish more judges tested the exhibitors in showmanship rather than just judging it as a halter class.


                      • #12
                        I'll bet she hasn't judge much in recent years. Those are all things we did as judges 20 -30 years ago. But not now. I haven't touched a horse in a class for decades. And if they won't move out when I say move out they get the gate. JMHO
                        "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there"


                        • Original Poster

                          Well despite all the moaning from exhibitors, I do have to commend the judge for showing the gate to a person who brought in an obiously lame horse (lame in the back). I have seen more judges not even notice lame horses or not excuse horses/riders who are clearly out of control.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by classicsporthorses View Post
                            Well despite all the moaning from exhibitors, I do have to commend the judge for showing the gate to a person who brought in an obiously lame horse (lame in the back). I have seen more judges not even notice lame horses or not excuse horses/riders who are clearly out of control.
                            Good for her! I also wish more Judges would give the lame ones the gate. Seeing limping horses being worked, class after class, is sickening.


                            • #15
                              Judges in draft halter classes will touch the horses.


                              • #16
                                I don't know the breed, but in drafts it is what is done.

                                Soundness issues abound, and running a hand down legs is one good way to sort the sound from the unsound. Sidebone is one issue that is easily discovered by touch.

                                Yes, if long tails are desirable, and people put on fake tails, then figuring out which horses have a "real" tail, with the genes for such, may be important.

                                Muzzles: Ever hear of parrot mouth or checking for a horse's age?

                                So, you had a touchy feely judge, sound like she had some pet peeves and was doing a thorough job.
                                Luistano Stallion standing for 2013: Wolverine UVF


                                • #17
                                  With TWHs you are generally asked to show your horses teeth (checking teeth, and also probably checking to see if the horse will LET you) Judges generally touch horses as they look them over but not super duper hard core with a fine tooth comb type. Fake tails aren't an option for us, and as we get inspected by a DQP before ever entering the ring I've never seen one pull on tails, but if there was a fake looking tail in the ring i'm sure they would! Since it was showmanship I'd bet she was pulling off balance to see how horse and handler reacted, or check to see how secure that fake tail was Cause God knows I've seen some horribly put in tails swinging around before!