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 21, 2012. The featured horse show judges were Thom Brede and Alan Lohman. Participants were encouraged to bring questions to ask about hunter and hunt-seat equitation horse show judging.
I do a lot of judging. I have a farm in Kentucky. We do racehorses and broodmares. I enjoy the young horses the best of everything, but in my heart I still love to judge and I try to judge as much as I can.
I have a show stable in Poolesville, Maryland, and I have students and amateurs. I do the show thing at home when I’m not out judging or course designing. I like to judge, course design and be involved in all aspects of horses.
1. What are you looking for? What grabs your attention? What things are you putting down immediately on your cards?
2. Would you give a lower score to a pony or horse who gets deep to a fence or takes off long or one who doesn’t have a consistent pace throughout?
3. How does you as a judge remember your first rider from the 36th in a class?
4. When you come up with your final score, is it an overall impression, or do you break it down, such as 10 mover, 8 jumper, then add them up?
5. What is the ideal rein length you looking for in hunter under saddle classes? What kind of contact should the rider have?
6. What qualities do you most look for in equitation, both over fences and on the flat? What’s the winning ride?
7. If a pony goes out and has a rough first couple classes then comes around and improves, how hard is it to put those early rounds out of your mind as a judge? Is it hard to forget them?
8. How do you deal with the “halo effect” in judging?
9. Do you prefer a horse or pony with a great rhythm over one who is a great mover?
10. Even if it’s not an equitation class, how much do you consider the whole picture (horse and rider together) when you’re judging? Or is it just about how well the rider rides the horse regardless of the picture?
11. When you’re scoring, what’s the difference between a 70 horse, an 80 horse, a 90 horse?
12. Are certain horses going to be in the 80s and 90s every time just because of their quality even if they don’t have the best round, or could a 70s mover win if he has the better round?
13. How important is rider turnout in the hunter ring? What do you look at?
14. How is judging the hunter derbies different from judging what’s going on in the hunter ring? It is different, isn’t it?
15. What qualities should someone have if he or she has an interest in becoming a judge?
16. What’s the biggest challenge for you as a judge?
17. How does the current problem with medicating hunters or longeing them to exhaustion affect your judging?
18. What kinds of changes in horsemanship have you seen in the last few years as opposed to 10 year ago?
19. What’s your favorite division to judge?
20. What is the one thing you see over and over as a judge that you want riders to go home and work on?
21. In pony conformation classes, some judges don’t move the ponies at all during the jog while others move them around a lot. How do you judge?
22. My pony has windpuffs. Would you move him back for that in a conformation class?
23. How do scars affect judging in pony conformation classes?
24. With all the changes in the last few years?going back to handy classes, introducing Hunter Derbies?where do you see the hunter divisions going in the future?
Listen to the 2011 “Ask the Hunter Judges” Seminar with Betty Oare, Scott Fitton and Barry Lobel.