Hey, at least I've been wearing shorts a lot lately to get a tan on my legs so that when I do get all dolled up in that skirt I won't be sporting the typical horsewoman's tan. As most of you are aware, that means tan arms, really tan face (except for the raccoon eyes from wearing sunglasses all day) and pasty-colored legs.
Other than that, I'm excited about this judging job. I've come a long way from the very first show I judged. That was probably 15 or so years ago, and yet I remember portions of it quite well. It was a little, itty bitty show held in a dry plot of land adjacent to a dairy farm and a stockyard. In the back acreage that day, Civil War re-enactors were holding one of their annual soldier-fests and I had to deal with wayward Yankees and Rebels and the occasional "BOOMS!" of cannon fire. Most of the horse show participants were kids on scruffy horses tacked up in colorful nylon headstalls and "saddled" with everything from knock-off show saddles to bareback pads. I think I got paid a whopping $50 for the day, but you know what? It was a learning experience for me. It was my first opportunity to wrangle with the paperwork and decision-making that goes into judging a horse show. Regardless of how unkempt and disheveled the competitors were, someone still had to be declared the first place winner.
You might wonder how I happened into that judging assignment. Well, I asked for it. Literally. I accepted I had to gain experience starting at the bottom of the horse show ranks, so I made unsolicited phone calls to every horse show organizer I could find by consulting fliers and posters and volunteering my services for a very cheap daily rate.
Once I decided I was interested in judging part-time, I also consulted my friends who had obtained their AHSA (now USEF) licenses and they gave me some great impromptu tutoring sessions. I learned how to mark a score sheet. They gave me tips on how to penalize and reward various rounds over fences. I sat with them while they judged ("learning judging"). And, most importantly, I became very familiar with the rule book. After all, someone, somewhere, has to establish rules for competition. Otherwise it's a melee waiting to happen. However, I stopped short of getting my AHSA/USEF license. I just wasn't that interested in pursuing a full judge's card. That requires a certain amount of time, travel and personal expense. All of that is understandable, and I admire those who do complete the requirements. It just wasn't for me.
Yet I'm quite content to judge county-rated and regionally sanctioned shows. Thankfully, I've moved beyond judging the little dustbowl shows. However, there's a trade-off in such a promotion. Occasionally I have to update my wardrobe.
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