Listen To Practical Horseman’s Ask The Hunter Judges’ Seminar

"R" judges Betty Oare, Scott Fitton and Barry Lobel answer 30 great questions from attendees.

Practical Horseman magazine presented an “Ask the Hunter Judges” seminar during the Atlanta Summer Classic II horse show at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, Thursday, June 23, 2011. The featured horse show judges were Scott Fitton, Betty Oare and Barry Lobel. Participants were encouraged to bring questions to ask about hunter and hunt-seat equitation horse show judging.

Ask the Hunter Judges Seminar panel: Barry Lobel, Betty Oare & Scott Fitton | Copyright Stacey Nedrow-Wigmore

Scott Fitton is a US Equestrian Federation “R” hunter and hunt seat equitation judge, successful trainer and horseman out of Wellington, Florida. Betty Oare received her “R” rating in the early 1970s and has judged many famous shows including Devon, Indoors and numerous circuits. She also competes in the Amateur-Owner Hunter division. Barry Lobel, from Bedminster, New Jersey, is a Hunter/Hunt Seat Equitation judge.

The horse show judges, Scott Fitton, Betty Oare and Barry Lobel, answered questions on horse show judging from the 60 participants who attended Practical Horseman magazine’s “Ask the Hunter Judges” seminar at the Georgia International Horse Park. Questions on horse show judging were also sent in via Facebook and email.

1.How do you narrow down large hunter flat classes to pin them?
Listen: Narrowing down large hunter flat classes

2.How do you judge/penalize a rider who picks up the wrong lead on the opening circle or trots a few steps on the wrong diagonal in the hunter ring?
Listen: Judging wrong leads/diagonals

3.How does the weather affect your judging when you have one rider go out and the sun is out and 30 minutes later it is pouring?
Listen: How weather affects judging

4.Are you very critical of how a rider’s size fits their mount?
Listen: Suitability of horse to rider

5.We see photos of well-known riders jumping with nontraditional equitation in the hunter classes. Does this distract you as a judge? How does the rider’s style affect your judging in the hunters?
Listen: Rider form in the hunters

6.Which horse would score better: the average moving horse that puts in a fantastic round, or a fantastic mover who has an average round?
Listen: Scoring the underdogs

7.Would you prefer to the illusion of a correct frame or a steady, relaxed, low frame?
Listen: Preferred frame


8.What would you prefer to see if a trot jump doesn’t go as planned: the rider pulling back hard to make the trot, or the rider allowing the horse to go over at the canter, and how much do you take off for canter strides?
Listen: Trot jumps

9.How do you judge the hand gallop? How much pace change is needed?
Listen: Hand gallop

10.Handy classes: What are the specifications?
Listen: Handy classes

11.Which equitation tests do you like to use and why?
Listen: Favorite equitation tests


12.How does the “halo effect” affect your judging? Does your opinion change when you see a well-known winner?
Listen: Halo effect

13.Are there any riding habits that you see in the ring that drive you crazy?
Listen: Bad habits

14.Does order of go in the class affect the results?
Listen: Order of go

15. When does your judging start?
Listen: When does judging start?

16.How should a rider execute the walk after the last fence of a Handy Hunter course? Should you squeak in the walk or do a circle?
Listen: Finishing a Handy Hunter course

17.How much do you look at a horse before the class begins?
Listen: Looking at horse before class starts

18.Is it OK to let your horse walk freely until the hunter class is called to be judged? Should you try to make a good first impression?
Listen: Warm-up before flat class

19.Should riders perform a turn on the haunches when they are asked to change direction in a flat class?
Listen: “Right way” to reverseQuestion 20

20.Do you care if tails are braided on the second day of the show?
Listen: Tail-braiding etiquette

21.How important is it to get out from behind a group of competitors in a flat class?
Listen: Getting seen


22.Does doing circles to get the canter lead in a flat class affect your score?
Listen: Circling in flat classes

23.How much is a knockdown penalized in the hunter ring? In the equitation?
Listen: Penalty for knocking a rail

24.How much does a loud rub against the rail, without a rail down, count in the hunters?
Listen: Penalty for loud rub

25.Does a light rub garner fewer penalties than a loud rub in the hunter ring?
Listen: Light versus hard rubs

26.Does the rider get penalized if their horse rubs a rail in the equitation?
Listen: Rubs in equitation

27.What are some older hunter riding styles that you wish would come back to the ring?
Listen: Bringing back old hunter styles

28.Do you count the strides between long bending lines? How many strides different than the set striding will you allow?
Listen: Counting strides

29. Is adding a stride to keep a great rhythm OK, or should a rider disrupt a perfect trip to get the line?
Listen: Adding strides

30.Do the same striding rules apply for a 2-foot-6 Baby Green class?
Listen: Striding for smaller fence height classes

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