Thursday, July 26, 2012

What makes a good judge?

I've been showing this summer and I have to say, on the whole the judges are a together group.  The L program is fairly rigorous, and there is an admirable consistency in the way that the L judges evaluate and score a ride. Some are more generous than others but the "scale" is there.  I'm cognizant of the balance they have to achieve as schooling show judges -- be encouraging but be true to the goals and purpose of competition.  The tact they must demonstrate as they talk to the riders is -- well,  I'm impressed. What do I most love in a judge?
  •  judges that come to a schooling show dressed as if they are at Devon. Linen dresses, big hats, tucked in shirts. Shows respect for the facility, the riders, and the show.
  •  judges that have a sense of humor. Comments like "Not Today!" when your horse blows through a movement make me smile.
  • judges that aren't afraid to speak the truth. The most recent R judge I showed under made a theatrical sweep of the hand and said: "Stacey, talk about throwing away points!!!" She wore a big smile as she described the lopsided, five-meters-short-on-one-side trot circle that reduced a nice stretchy trot to a "6."
  • judges that are kind. I saw one rider, new to showing, go off course three times in one test. The judge chided her just a little, but was very kind and encouraging. I saw that rider later in another show, and she did very well.
So, let's raise a glass to one of the things in the dressage system that work well. Kudos!


  1. I hope to be blessed with judges with a sense of humor next week when I take CP to his first show. When I did it with Ozzy, he spent half the test trying to figure out if he should jump the dressage fence and the other half trying to run away from it. The judge wrote, "Good job keeping him in the ring."

  2. What I've always liked are judges who take that, "Been there, done that" approach when things go wrong...those who are well aware that riding a good test takes two willing partners and sometimes the horse just isn't willing. A sense of humor and sense of perspective--sympathy for the rider--make it all so much nicer to compete.

  3. I was just discussing one of my favorite judges with a friend today, who happens to be friends with the judge. I found this particular judge to be very encouraging and kind. She made me feel great without seeming insincere. Our common friend exclaimed that the judge makes it her goal to "make riders want to come back". That's it exactly. I love that quality in a judge.

  4. It must not be ridiculously hot where you are. I'm not a big fan of fancy-dressed judges at schooling shows. Be down-to-earth like the rest of us should be.
    Uppity-dressed judges, show managers, and competitors? Those belong in the rated shows.

  5. Oh my goodness! Modern fabrics are so comfortable you can certainly dress cooly, be comfortable, and look professional. It's not like the devon judges are in 3 piece suits. I'm not in favor of wrinkled capris and a tank top which I have seen once. A lot of people commented on it.

  6. I show hunters and my trainer is a judge, I can honestly say she holds these standards. Although I can't show when she judges she is always positive, and will always dress professionally.

  7. Not only are kind hearted judges more fun to ride for, they are MUCH more fun to scribe for. I've done my fair share of scribing at schooling shows, recognized shows, and dressage portions of horse trials, and it makes the day SO much better when the judge is friendly.

    I've scribed for a few who had a stick up their you-know-what and it made the day go by terribly slow.

  8. My mare when I asked for her canter decided to add a series of bucks. The judge wrote: over exuberant in her departure. Made made laugh. I like judges who are kind in their wording.


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